Two shoeshine boys in postwar Rome, Italy, save up to buy a horse, but their involvement as dupes in a burglary lands them in juvenile prison where the experience take a devastating toll on their friendship.
Vittorio De Sica
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A married American woman has gotten involved with another man while visiting relatives in Rome. She decides that the time has come to break off the relationship, and she makes plans to return home to her husband. But she soon realizes that she is not at all sure about what she wants to do, and she continues to agonize over her decision. Written by
This film will not appeal to everyone, but even with the ravages executed by Selznick on the American cut, Stazione Termini (Selznick's U.S. version: Indiscretion of an American Housewife) remains a powerful film for those who can appreciate it.
To be sure, there are faults, especially unfortunate in light of De Sica's credentials. Most striking are that Montgomery Clift as American-Italian is a spectacular error, not so much in casting, as in characterization (American expat would have worked); far too much English comes from the mouths of early-1950s Romans and other Italians; and the American housewife is perhaps overly oblivious to the italianità around her. Otherwise, mostly spot on, at least in the full version.
Jennifer Jones, beyond radiant in her prime-of-life womanhood, exudes a sensuality that both contrasts strikingly with her 1950s-prim exterior and celebrates the troubled woman within: proper well-brought-up ladies can have passions, too, a marriage ceremony is no guarantor that all will be well 'til death do them part, and she, like so many before her and after, struggles when smoldering embers flare and she senses that the 'groove' of her comfortable, uneventful marriage may actually be 'rut'.
As would be expected of De Sica, his rendition of the setting -- the newly rebuilt Stazione Termini itself, trains, travelers -- is so accurate as to pass for a recording, and protagonists as well as the concentrically-involved supporting cast embed within it void of staging, with total plausibility.
The arrest scene and its aftermath also verges on documentary in its genuinity. The strict proprieties of post-WWII Rome -- for some Romans very genuine, for others hypocritical sham even then -- may seem contrived to a young American or British viewer today, but the inevitable tension was very real at the time, and De Sica presents its effects honestly, and with éclat.
Give Stazione Termini a chance. Enter the time and place. De Sica managed to do a fine job of it, in spite of Selznick's ill-advised meddling, and he deserves far more more credit than he's normally given for this effort. So does Jennifer Jones, who is magnificent here.
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