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I have read that Raffaelo Matarazzo was known for directing melodramas. So, if that is what you are seeking, this film will probably satisfy.
Here we learn of a couple who met in the most unlikely of ways -- he was fleeing the customs police after a first-time attempt at smuggling. She is the understanding bottega owner who harbors him rather than aid the authorities.
He decides that a better way to make money is to go to Canada's Pacific coast, but, when he isn't able to bring her over to join him, Stefano (Amazeo Nazarri) and Maria (Yvonne Sanson) marry "by proxy," the equivalent today of joining in matrimony by Skype!
Some wildly unlikely plot twists ensue -- after Maria's wayward kid sister gets pregnant and gives birth, she inexplicably dies. When the illegitimate baby is abandoned at a church, and Maria tries to retrieve the boy, she is arrested and jailed for child abandonment. Pride and shame prevent her from explaining what really happened, so she never sets off for America.
The bored and unhappy wife of Stefano's boss tries unsuccessfully to seduce Stefano, and, even after he gets wind of Maria's predicament, Stefano -- who has become a rich man in the New World -- decides to track Maria down in the motherland.
Meanwhile, Maria has gained custody of the child, who has grown up to call her Mama. But she must work so hard to support them that it nearly kills her. And, all the while, the boy is wondering who his father is.
Then, on the day that Stefano returns to town, who should he bump into but the boy -- attempting to sell Maria's wedding dress so that he can buy her medicine. Stefano, of course, will have none of that, and off he goes to visit the invalid.
Well, you can guess the rest of the story as this twisty-turny saga comes to a conclusion. It's full of sturm und drang with many somber stares. And though it kept me occupied, I wouldn't want to sit through it again.
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