The Rose Tattoo (1955)

Unrated  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  1956 (Brazil)
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Reviews: 32 user | 18 critic

An Italian-American neighborhood in Louisiana is disturbed when truck driver Rosario Delle Rose is killed by police while smuggling. His buxom widow Serafina miscarries, then over a period ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (adaptation), 1 more credit »
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Won 3 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Ben Cooper ...
Seaman Jack Hunter
Virginia Grey ...
Estelle Hohengarten
Sandro Giglio ...
Father De Leo
Florence Sundstrom ...


An Italian-American neighborhood in Louisiana is disturbed when truck driver Rosario Delle Rose is killed by police while smuggling. His buxom widow Serafina miscarries, then over a period of years draws more and more into herself, trying to force her lovely teenaged daughter Rosa to do likewise. On one eventful day, Rose finally breaks away; Serafina learns of Rosario's affair with another woman; and a new carefree, handsome Italian truck driver enters her life... Written by Rod Crawford <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Seething with realism and frankness! See more »


Comedy | Drama | Romance


Unrated | See all certifications »





Release Date:

1956 (Brazil)  »

Also Known As:

A Rosa Tatuada  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


This was Magnani's first English-speaking role in a Hollywood film. She was very nervous about her English, and her heavy accent during filming, and in fact had turned down the role in the stage version earlier for the same reason. Magnani's performance was widely applauded and she walked home with the Oscar for Best Actress as a result. See more »


When the truck crashes in flames and rolls down the hillside, it is obvious from the beginning of the sequence that there is nobody in the cab. See more »


Referenced in Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore (2010) See more »


Come le rose
Written by Adolfo Genise
Lyrics by Gaetano Lama
Sung in part by Marisa Pavan (uncredited) and behind credits
See more »

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User Reviews

An uneven film, with one great performance
17 March 2002 | by (Richmond, California) – See all my reviews

Time has not been kind to The Rose Tattoo, a 1955 release that garnered three Oscars, plus additional nominations. Originally written by Tennessee Williams as a play, the film's shortcomings now cancel out much that audiences might have found entertaining about it 47 years ago. The deficits include bad acting all around (with the exception of the star, Anna Magnani) and an uneven script by Williams (who among other things was apparently clueless about how an adolescent boy and girl, attracted to each other, might talk or behave).

Playing the role of the dim-witted but sexy truck driver who courts a grieving widow (Magnani), Burt Lancaster gives a highly exaggerated "comedy performance" that is occasionally embarrassing to watch. A great natural actor in his other films and noted for his controlled physicallity, Lancaster here gawks, bends, waves his arms, makes faces, cries (clownishly), and is generally ape-like, all the while failing to get inside the character he's portraying. (Leading American actors have always had a problem convincingly playing people less intelligent than themselves; see Lon Chaney, Jr. in Of Mice and Men or, more recently, Jack Nicholson in Prizzi's Honor for more examples of this.)

Under the direction of Daniel Mann (who also directed the play), and intended as a comedy-drama, almost everything in Rose Tattoo is either loud or overblown (though it may have been Williams' wish that it be played this way in a misguided attempt to heighten the humorous dimension of the story). The host of supporting characters are all portrayed as one-dimensional grotesques or harpies who telegraph their every thought or emotion by arm-waving, facial contortions, or semiphoring the kind of villainousness that went out in the early '30s. Nor does Mann seem to have fine control over the physical goings-on by cast members. In some scenes small groups of people rush back and forth like obedient cattle, too obviously responding to off-camera direction; and at the high school prom a male extra noticeably freezes for a second or two as he waits for Marisa Pavan and her sailor dance partner to leave the floor ahead of him.

Magnani, for whom the play was written (though she just appeared in the film, after she had mastered the rudiments of the English language), comes across as the only real human being among a slew of posturing marionettes. Her portrayal of a terribly put-upon Sicilian widow fighting off the knowledge of her dead husband's infidelity and desperately trying to maintain her dignity in the face of snide remarks and out-and-out insults is awe-inspiring. I doubt that her performance has ever been matched by any American actress before or after. (Only Vivien Leigh, a Brit, comes to mind as a mentally disintegrating Blanche du Bois in the film version of Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire.) Williams, who was famously homosexual, understood and probably identified with vulnerable women. (Years before, his own sister, when a young woman, had been seriously mentally ill, "put away," and had undergone a lobotomy. It was no coincidence that her name was Rose.)

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