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Journey to Italy (1954)

Viaggio in Italia (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 20 December 1954 (France)
An unhappily married couple attempts to find direction and insight while vacationing in Naples.


Roberto Rossellini


Vitaliano Brancati (story and screenplay), Roberto Rossellini (story and screenplay)

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2 wins. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Ingrid Bergman ... Katherine Joyce
George Sanders ... Alexander 'Alex' Joyce (as Georges Sanders)
Maria Mauban Maria Mauban ... Marie (as Marie Mauban)
Anna Proclemer Anna Proclemer ... La prostituta
Paul Muller ... Paul Dupont
Anthony La Penna Anthony La Penna ... Tony Burton (as Leslie Daniels)
Natalia Ray ... Natalie Burton (as Natalia Rai)
Jackie Frost Jackie Frost ... Betty


Catherine and Alexander, wealthy and sophisticated, drive to Naples to dispose of a deceased uncle's villa. There's a coolness in their relationship and aspects of Naples add to the strain. She remembers a poet who loved her and died in the war; although she didn't love him, the memory underscores romance's absence from her life now. She tours the museums of Naples and Pompeii, immersing herself in the Neapolitan fascination with the dead and noticing how many women are pregnant; he idles on Capri, flirting with women but drawing back from adultery. With her, he's sarcastic; with him, she's critical. They talk of divorce. Will this foreign couple find insight and direction in Italy? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A Dramatic and Unusual Love Story!


Drama | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »



Italy | France


English | Italian

Release Date:

20 December 1954 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Strangers See more »

Filming Locations:

Naples, Campania, Italy See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »


During the religious procession, when the crane lifts the camera and camera pans up to view the crowd, you can see the shadow of the camera on the ground. See more »


[first lines]
Alexander 'Alex' Joyce: Where are we?
Katherine Joyce: Oh, I don't know exactly.
See more »


Referenced in Contempt (1963) See more »

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User Reviews

Roberto Rossellini's Night of the Living Dead Marriage
11 November 2014 | by MisterWhiplashSee all my reviews

Roberto Rossellini wasn't about to rest too much on his laurels - or let a little thing like a controversy slow him down (an affair with Ingrid Bergman that wrecked marriages, albeit produced daughter Isabella which is nothing short of miraculous) - so a film like Journey to Italy seemed like just the thing to get him motivated and challenged. It's a challenging picture. There's not the same sort of melodramatic drive through a lot of it that you see in Rome Open City or even Stromboli - at least until perhaps the last third. I remember seeing the clips in Scorsese's Italian movies documentary, though it was hard to come by except on over-priced VHS online, until the Criterion collection put out a Rossellini/Bergman box-set, which gave me my chance last year.

I have to wonder if Kubrick might've watched this film before making Eyes Wide Shut, if only for the early scenes. But there's little chance for real romance here; Bergman and George Sanders are the married couple, on holiday in Rome. Well, partly holiday anyway, more like an estate deal that's being closed on (an inhereted villa in Naples actually), and she's bored out of her mind... at first. Very slowly as she goes on trips to museums, encouraged by an acquaintance, there is a certain mood about Rome, a history, the objects which loom over her and speak to something MORE than what she is experiencing in her life and marriage, that do something to her.

Of course, stuffy George Sanders can't see that - nor that their marriage isn't very happy at the moment, or about there being a lost lover in the equation as well (flirting for Sanders, too). And there may be more trouble on the horizon as well, but what's so fascinating is that Rossellini keeps a lot of things under the surface, the unspoken between the two, the tension, is what has to be put forward. For drama, this can be tricky, and Rossellini with his documentary background is able to get his actors to such a place as to be totally comfortable in their characters - people who are paradoxically uncomfortable with where they're at, romantically, spiritually (spirit's a big one), and geographically.

And in a sense the ultimate message here reminds me of the line from Night of the Living Dead, where an unhappy married woman says to her husband: "We might not like living together... but dying together won't solve anything." Is this couple sort of, you know, trapped? Most likely, and the zombies are actual conflicts they're avoiding in life.

A lot of what they end up seeing together is death. This comes by the way right when they tentatively agree after a really bad argument (there's a lot of arguing here by the way, but all believable because it's these two stars who are tremendous talents. They're taken along on an archaeological expedition, and they're privy to the remains of people from long ago. It's a startling, breathtaking sight for them, maybe more for Sanders in a way because he hasn't already been exposed to these bewildering, eye-opening sights like Bergman has. And this realization of one's mortality dawns ever closer.

Journey to Italy was a prized darling among the French New Wave, and perhaps it's because of the questions it raises about life and death, love and loss, and having any sort of REASON for anything, that gives it an existential edge. Have things been too petty for them? Can they reconcile? The ending is where Rossellini finally lets things boil over dramatically speaking: in a way this is a more sophisticated film, if a little harder to exactly "enjoy" outside of a sort of intellectual level (unlike, say, Open City), but when Bergman and Sanders are torn apart, if only briefly, by a parade, it becomes a BIG struggle, and that's what counts. What will you do with the time you have here? Love, squabble, fight, bicker, take things in and experience things? Maybe all of those.

I'm glad the movie was re-discovered and championed by those crazy bunch of Cashier du Cinema folks; the movie works its way ever so slowly on you, and has the layers of great art revealing itself. Did I mention how good these two actors are, especially Bergman again with her husband/musee? Good, it's worth repeating.

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