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A Free Woman (1954)

Una donna libera (original title)
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Cast

Credited cast:
Françoise Christophe ...
Liana Franci
Pierre Cressoy ...
Gerardo Villabruna
...
Il commandatore Massimo Marchi
Mario Mazza ...
Il banchiere Christian Ségret
Lianella Carell ...
Solange
Christine Carère ...
Leonora Franci
Barbara Florian ...
Anna Maria
Galeazzo Benti ...
Sergio Rollini
Augusto Mastrantoni ...
Augusto Franci
Luigi Tosi ...
Michele
Elisa Cegani ...
La signora Giovanna Franci
Nada Cortese ...
Ingrid (as Nada Cortesi)
Mario Maldesi
Luigi Zuccolo ...
Fernando
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29 December 1954 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Femmes libres  »

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1.37 : 1
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A FREE WOMAN (Vittorio Cottafavi, 1954) ***
1 February 2014 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

I came to watch this film (which I had earlier acquired off late-night Italian TV, from where the current "You Tube" copy is also culled!) on the birthday of its cult director – of whose work I own several unwatched titles (though these are mostly TV-to-VHS recordings, on unlabelled cassettes to boot{!}, of his small-screen efforts) – and the reason I went for this one in particular is the fact that it has been included in a list of the 100 Italian movies worthy of preservation for future generations!

Anyway, though Cottafavi's reputation rests largely on his peplum efforts – reaching his zenith with THE HUNDRED HORSEMEN (1964) – he actually began his career with a number of women's pictures/ melodramas; this is only the second one I checked out but do have at least three more in my collection. Stylistically, the film lies somewhere between "Neo-Realism" and the genre examples of Douglas Sirk; in particular, it evokes the contemporaneous work of Roberto Rossellini and Michelangelo Antonioni. For the record, Cottafavi was once held in such high esteem by the French "Cahiers Du Cinema" crowd of movie critics as to be named among the four greatest directors – along with Fritz Lang, Joseph Losey and Otto Preminger!

The plot revolves around a 'modern' woman: free to pursue her interests (taking up an architect's job) and not be tied down by convention (escaping a home run by a strict father), this however has repercussions on her romantic life. She drops her working-class boyfriend for a philandering musical conductor (adulated like a rock star and who links his conquests with a particular composer – the leading lady gets Tchaikovsky!) and, when he decides to terminate their affair, settles down with a prominent older man (played by the popular Gino Cervi). The musician turns up again later, though, and she feels compelled to leave her husband for the younger man…but draws the line when he then sets his eyes on her collegiate sister. A confrontation ensues in which the woman shoots him dead (extraordinarily rendered via a succession of zooms), giving herself up to the Police soon after in the very last scene which, given the film's title, proves ironic indeed.


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