22 user 29 critic

Bitter Rice (1949)

Riso amaro (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 18 September 1950 (USA)
Two criminals on the run end up working in a rice field and decide to recruit other workers for their next robbery.


Giuseppe De Santis


Giuseppe De Santis (story), Carlo Lizzani (story) | 7 more credits »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Vittorio Gassman ... Walter (as Vittorio Gassmann)
Doris Dowling ... Francesca
Silvana Mangano ... Silvana
Raf Vallone ... Marco
Checco Rissone Checco Rissone ... Aristide
Nico Pepe Nico Pepe ... Beppe
Adriana Sivieri Adriana Sivieri ... Celeste
Lia Corelli Lia Corelli ... Amelia
Maria Grazia Francia Maria Grazia Francia ... Gabriella
Dedi Ristori Dedi Ristori ... Anna
Anna Maestri Anna Maestri ... Irene
Mariemma Bardi Mariemma Bardi ... Gianna
Maria Capuzzo Maria Capuzzo ... Giulia
Isabella Marincola Isabella Marincola ... Rosa (as Isabella Zennaro)
Carlo Mazzarella ... Gianetto


Francesca and Walter are two-bit criminals in Northern Italy, and, in an effort to avoid the police, Francesca joins a group of women rice workers. She meets the voluptuous peasant rice worker, Silvana, and the soon-to-be-discharged soldier, Marco. Walter follows her to the rice fields, and the four characters become involved in a complex plot involving robbery, love, and murder. Written by Laura Ernestina Ruberto <lruberto@ucsd.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


An earthy drama of human passions among women rice workers in the Po Valley. See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #792. See more »


Referenced in Schlock! The Secret History of American Movies (2001) See more »

User Reviews

Passion in the rice fields and plenty of steamy melodrama...
16 October 2011 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

In BITTER RICE, Silvana Mangano is reminiscent of a minor-league Anna Magnani, only younger and prettier with the accent on her bosom in BITTER RICE. She's earthy and sensual--as is the film--once described by the NY Times "as earthy and elemental as any picture you are likely to see."

And it is elemental, the story of misguided passions among four people in the rice fields of Northern Italy and there's no subtlety in the telling. It gets off to a rather slow start while developing the characters played by Silvana Mangano, Raf Vallone, Doris Dowling and Vittorio Gassmann. Only Vallone, as an army sergeant, is a "good guy" among a band of thieves destined to face tragic consequences of their unbridled lust and fatal attraction. He resembles an Italian version of the young Burt Lancaster.

Along the way, there are some interesting scenes of workers in the rice fields and their work habits, enhanced by moments whereby they chant and sing what they are supposed to be thinking as a sort of counterpoint to the action unfolding in the story.

Done in the popular neo-realistic manner prevalent during post-World War II in Italy, it tells a convoluted tale that, in the end, only tells us that crime does not pay. The story heads toward a stormy conclusion in a slaughter house, engrossing right up until the fabricated final moments for Mangano, a fitting conclusion to a steamy melodrama.

Interesting to see American actress Doris Dowling in this Italian film and giving one of the best performances as a woman who stands up to the cunning and perverse heroine with some threats of her own. Too bad her film career in the U.S. never fully developed.

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Release Date:

18 September 1950 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bitter Rice See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Lux Film See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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