An American scientist is sent by the CIA to East Germany to retrieve a secret microfilm from a Soviet scientist interested in defecting to the West but the Stasi secret police's surveillance complicates matters.
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
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
Ever the micro-manager, David O. Selznick was constantly unhappy during the film's production, especially with the way his director Vittorio De Sica was handling the material. Every day, Selznick would fire off lengthy letters to de Sica, even though the latter couldn't read English. See more »
[Angrily to the police]
What is this - a zoo? Are we a couple of monkeys or something?
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Opening credits prologue: ROME Eternal City of Culture, of Legend . . . and of Love See more »
This is such a contained, focused film, and demands so much of its two actors, every little nuance matters in a kind of exciting dramatic way. The closest thing this compares to, as two lovers or would be lovers talk in a train station, is Brief Encounter (1945), and that's a masterpiece of acting and cinema both.
Here, with Montgomery Clift and Jennifer Jones, it comes close. I found the slowness of it magical, and the filming, in the ultra modern station, very beautiful. If director Vittoria De Sica clearly has a different style than David Lean (though both pile on the romanticism), the effect is still one of longing and loneliness. The weakness here, most of all, is simply the writing, which is so important when two people are sitting around in conversation most of the time.
Oddly, and sadly, it was the producer (Selznick) who got in the way. He was married to Jones at the time, and she was unhappy both during the filming and in her marriage. She also seems to be overacting sometimes--she can be marvelous, and nuance magnified might be exactly what was needed, but it often seems distracting. Clift, for his part, liked De Sica and he did what he could with what he had to work with under the director. It was Selznick who interfered with De Sica, and who altered the script using a series of screenwriters, and even though Truman Capote was one of them, the whole thing was hampered.
The fact it is still a marvelous film is something to wonder at. Flawed, yes, but short and intense and it has a special feeling that Hollywood (and British counterparts) were unable to pull off. The whole atmosphere and mood are enough alone to make it worthwhile.
I saw the short version, and I think it's probably plenty, but if you find the original, with 20 minutes extra, and you like this one, give it a try.
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