Two Women (1960)
"La ciociara" (original title)

 |  Drama, War  |  9 May 1961 (USA)
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Reviews: 33 user | 24 critic

In the Italy of WWII, a widow and her lonely daughter seek for distance between them and the horrors of war.



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Won 1 Oscar. Another 10 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Michele Di Libero (as Jean Paul Belmondo)
Eleonora Brown ...
Carlo Ninchi ...
Filippo, il padre di Michele
Andrea Checchi ...
Un fascista
Pupella Maggio ...
Una contadina
Emma Baron ...
Bruna Cealti ...
Una sfollata
Antonella Della Porta ...
La madre impazzita
Mario Frera
Franco Balducci ...
Il tedesco nel pagliaio
Luciana Cortellesi
Curt Lowens
Tony Calio ...
(as Tony Caliò)
Remo Galavotti


Cesira is a beautiful widow and a successful grocery store owner in Rome. WWII is raging, and she fears for her beloved daughter, 13-year-old Rosetta, amid the daily bombings. They travel to the village where Cesira was born, where Cesira believes they will be safer. There, they are happy even as food dwindles. A young intellectual, Michele, falls in love with Cesira, who is too consumed with the well-being of her daughter and their survival to return his timid advances. As the allies advance, Cesira decides to return to Rome - and encounter the horrors of war at last. Written by

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Suddenly...Love Becomes Lust...Innocence becomes shame...As two women are trapped by violent passion and unforgettable terror!


Drama | War


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Release Date:

9 May 1961 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Two Women  »

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Technical Specs


| (subtitled release)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Film restored in July 2002. See more »


Near the beginning of the film Cesira and Rosetta choose to walk rather than wait aboard their stranded train. However they set off in the opposite direction to the train's destination. See more »


Cesira: You're getting a real behind on you like a woman.
See more »


Referenced in Breach (2007) See more »


Torna piccina mia
Written by Cesare A. Bixio
Published by Bixio Censa
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User Reviews

certainly not for those who aren't ready to shed some tears; the last half hour is vintage De Sica
22 January 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Two Women is powerful not just simply for its final half hour, even if that is, arguably (and I'd argue on the side of "yes"), some of the best drama Vittorio De Sica and his screenwriter Cesar Zavatinni created. It's a view into lives that, at least at the time, didn't get much time on cinema screens. We understand that this young mother, Cesira (VERY well deserved Academy Award winner Sophia Loren), has a kind of hard protective shell of the fiery, strong woman that today might seem to verge on being something to expect in an Italian or Spanish drama, but here is meant to be just that- a shell to guard off from the wretched horrors of a war which repeatedly she asks "will it end soon?" She also has to be strong for her thirteen year old daughter Rosetta (Eleonora Brown, excellent even if not considering it's a first performance), who still has a little innocence and admiration for those who are more good-hearted, if not as resourceful.

This type as mentioned is in Michel (Jean Paul Belmondo, a curiously low-key performance considering his big hype as a suave star in France), who is a resistance fighter that Cesira and Rosetta come across while traveling away from Rome during bombing raids. We see them (Michel and Cesira) getting close, maybe too close, though she recognizes in him one of the only vestiges of common sense and decency, even if in a slightly shrewd (or just practical) manner that she can't totally grasp. She's been through the war, right along with her daughter, and there's layers that Loren grasps that pierce through the character; De Sica knows that she's capable of reaching these very real dimensions even before she has to go full tilt into the tragedy of the rape scene in the church. Loren's absolutely stunning in her gorgeous beauty, but in a way that works to make a comment on how her character has to keep guarded as well. Sometimes a look is just enough to suggest something. Other times, men might get a little more forceful. There's suggestion beneath some of the bigger scenes, and Loren is fantastic at grabbing them for all their worth.

From the start, De Sica and Zavattini set the tone: people walking on a street, suddenly the alarms sound, running, bombs drop. Should be business as usual, but it's still staggering for the mind to grasp. In a way, Cesira and Rosetta are in the midst of a kind of apocalyptic atmosphere, and we as the audience, even as we know where history will lead the characters, get wrapped up in the maelstrom of violence (one moment that's important is when the mother and daughter walk along a quiet road, a man on a bicycle passes, and a plane swoops down, shooting, the women duck, but the man is killed - the women look startled for just a moment, but hide it and go on their way) and with some political discourse thrown in from time to time as well (these might be the only weak spots of the film, but still very good scenes with a quick pace and sharp attention to mixing real actors and "non" actors, a slightly elevated neo-realism). And there are memorable scenes before that last half hour- just seeing the Germans appear up in front of the Italians, menacing in an almost surreal two-dimensional fashion, verbally abusive, taking bread. Scenes precede this, like a couple of brutes who threaten Cesira with a gun. But this one strikes it hard: a state of mind in war cripples the mind.

Finally, they come to the abandoned church, and the infamous scene occurs (filmed with a very effective zoom lens on Rosetta's eyes at a crucial moment, a kind of approximate exclamation point). It's a very careful study in the disintegration of the human spirit at this point, and more than once, De Sica and his writer, as in times before, pull sincerely and harshly at the heart strings. This time, however, is like seeing a Lifetime TV movie as done by the most sincere dramatist, ready to gage the emotions just by presenting the devastation straight on, and enhancing a theme: the futility of escape in this environment. Rosetta can't stand that her mother didn't protect her more, she's almost shell-shocked, and after a tense scene riding back with an opera singing trucker (a small, great scene), she awakes at night to see she's run off with the trucker from before. She comes back, Cesira is furious, but not simply for that. A much greater tragedy has occurred, and it all comes crashing down. Even the most hardened and cynical moviegoer will be hard-pressed to hold back from crying as Loren brushes back her daughter's hair in the church, or tries to look away in the truck. And that final shot, however in sentiment as the final shots of Umberto D and Bicycle Thief, drive it on home like a dagger.

One of the best films of 1960; a touching masterpiece in Italian cinema from one of the masters (if that's over-praising it much forgive me).

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Any GOOD DVD versions out there? jspearman7
Rape scene not as violent as remembered hud9150
Rape Scene in the Church grapesofbutcher
supporting actress's age jiqinghui
deleted scene? confused whatsupdoc_55
Perfect title for the Criterion Collection! ricardozaldivar
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