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Serafina Magnifina
bkoganbing1 March 2007
It ain't easy to steal the spotlight from Burt Lancaster, but Anna Magnani in her Oscar winning performance managed to do just that. Of course it helps to have the female role be the protagonist here.

In the 1951 season on Broadway, Tennessee Williams's The Rose Tattoo came to Broadway and ran for 306 performances and starred Maureen Stapleton and Eli Wallach in the Magnani and Lancaster parts. Like all of Tennessee Williams's work it is set in the south, but a different kind of south than we usually see. Surely Serafina Derosse is a lot different than decadent southerners like Blanche Dubois, or Alexandra Del Lago, or Violet Venable. She's from a different world than they, being an immigrant. She brings her culture and its values to the gulf area.

Serafina's husband is killed in a brief prologue in a car crash, he's a truck driver who does a little smuggling on the side. He also does a bit of womanizing on the side as well which comes out at his death. As a result Magnani just withdraws from the world and even tries to turn her daughter, Marisa Pavan, into as a bitter a creature as she is.

Enter Burt Lancaster into her life, who's also a truck driver. His is a pretty expansive role also, but he's just not in the same league as Magnani, few are. Burt was cast in the role because Paramount wanted some box office name as Magnani was not known in this country, though she was Italy's biggest female star.

In a recent biography of Burt Lancaster it said that Lancaster was lucky in this part because he grew up in East Harlem, one of the few WASP types there and had many Italian immigrant friends and their families to draw upon for his character. It's a good performance, Lancaster stops well short of making it a cartoon creation and getting the Italian American Civil Rights group down on him.

Still it's Magnani's picture and she dominates it thoroughly. She did only a few English language films after this, Wild is the Wind and The Secret of Santa Vittoria with Anthony Quinn and The Fugitive Kind with Marlon Brando among them. Brando in fact turned down this film because he was afraid she'd upstage him. Guess he got his courage later on.

The Rose Tattoo is probably the closest Tennessee Williams came to doing a comedy. It's well short of a comedy, there's too many serious parts to this film to consider it that. Still I think it's something different from Tennessee Williams, something unique, and something wonderful.
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The Great Anna Magnani
drednm9 June 2005
The Rose Tattoo is a solid film with terrific performances by 3 Oscar winners: Anna Magnani, Burt Lancaster, and Jo Van Fleet. Magnani landed the film version after Maureen Stapleton had originated the part on Broadway, and she is terrific as the smouldering Italian woman whose husband is killed when he is caught smuggling. The Tennessee Williams play touches on the usual ingredients of sexual repression and denial and hypocrisy. After years of mourning the dead husband (the Baron), Magnani finally gives in to sexual urges (with Lancaster) only after the swarm of village women (a pack of Italian harpy hags that acts as a Greek Chorus) convince her that the husband had been unfaithful. The subplot involves the purity of the daughter who is dating an equally pure sailor (Marisa Pavan and Ben Cooper). The subplot is boring. Lancaster is good as the simpleton truck driver who serves as the double for the dead husband, right down to the rose tattoo on his chest. Another rose tattoo shows up on the chest of the husband's floozie girl friend (nicely played by Virginia Grey), which serves as the "proof" Magnani needs to finally believe her husband's cheating. Lots of symbolism and circular plots, but the bottom line is the excellence of the acting. Magnani won a well-deserved Oscar for this film. Her scenes with Lancaster are electric. And Van Fleet is super as the shrieking customer (Magnani is a seamstress); it's no coincidence that Van Fleet won the supporting actress Oscar that year for East of Eden, since her performance in The Rose Tattoo is a world apart from that film. And yes Tennessee Williams can be glimpsed as a barfly at the Mardi Gras Club.
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jotix10025 September 2004
Tennessee Williams was a good friend of Anna Magnani, the great Italian screen star. It was with her in mind he wrote "The Rose Tattoo", but she never played it in the theater because she didn't feel too comfortable, at the time, in doing the play in English.

Anna Magnani was born to play Serafina; she smolders the screen every time we see her. She is the sole reason for watching the film. Daniel Mann miscalculated in the adaptation, by Hal Kanter, of the play he had directed on Broadway, and it shows. The basic failure is that he made the character of Alvaro Mangiacavallo into a buffoon. Burt Lancaster seems to have been directed to go for laughs rather than being the sensual man he is in the play. He must awaken Serafina from the self imposed mourning she is experiencing at the time they meet.

"The Rose Tattoo" has a Greek tragedy feeling. Watch Serafina at the beginning of the film shopping at the grocery store among the neighborhood women. Later, the same thing happens. At the most dramatic moments, the chorus comes to surround Serafina; it's a ploy to make her react to them and vent her anger at the ignorant women who are her neighbors and clients, but not her real friends.

Serafina is a dignified woman who is still living back in Sicily, even though she is now in New Orleans. Her daughter rebels against her mother, who can't understand the American ways. When her husband Rosario dies, her whole world falls apart. Rosario has been the only man in her life and she wants to stay at home and not face reality, until the appearance of Alvaro, who manages to win her over with his simple ways.

Anna Magnani gives a performance that is larger than life.
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Anna Magnani "owns" the movie
rupie2 October 2000
We can always count on Tennessee Williams to give us an engrossing tale of love, lust, loss, betrayal, sexual frustration, and jealousy. Anna Magnani's corrosive performance absolutely dominates this film, which works well in black & white (the overheated emotions seem to leap out of the b&w more starkly than they would out of color); you can't take your eyes off her - it's like watching a train wreck. She makes this insecure, emotionally frightened, self-deluded, yet domineering woman a sympathetic figure in the end. Burt Lancaster is a bit over the top, but the role calls for it. A fascinating aspect is the parallel development of the daughter's budding sexuality with the release of her mother's long-suppressed yearnings. Those fascinated by Magnani here should catch her working with Anthony Quinn in "The Secret of Santa Vittoria", made just four years before her death. Once again, thank you American Movie Classics for bringing us this fine film.
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A Flawless Diamond Performance in a Gold-Plated Setting
dglink15 May 2005
Ten out of ten for Anna Magnani's tour-de-force performance in "The Rose Tattoo," but the film itself falls a notch or two below that level. From time to time, a performance comes along that is so brilliant that the work of all other actors in the same year pales in comparison. Ben Kingsley in "Gandhi" and Daniel Day Lewis in "My Left Foot" come to mind, and Anna Magnani as Serafina Delle Rose in "The Rose Tattoo" can be added to that short list. The actress seems to physically transform herself before your eyes from a depressed, self-pitying widow, who has been swallowed by grief over the death of the husband that she worshiped, into a flirtatious, earthy woman, who cannot resist the attention and physical attraction of Alvaro, a truck driver, who is played by Burt Lancaster. Unfortunately, Lancaster, who often overacted when there was not a strong director to control him, lets loose at times in a nearly buffoonish performance as the suitor. Fortunately, nearly half the movie passes before he arrives on screen. Since Lancaster is capable of subtle restrained work such as that in "Atlantic City" and "Field of Dreams," one can only fault director Daniel Mann for not reining in the actor's over-the-top gestures and shameless mugging.

The original Tennessee Williams play has been effectively opened up and only occasionally betrays its stage origins. James Wong Howe's black-and-white cinematography beautifully captures the atmospheric art direction, and two of the film's three Academy Awards deservedly went to the cinematographer and art director. The third, of course, was presented to Anna Magnani. The film has some dry stretches, Marisa Pavan is obviously much older than the 15 that she portrays, and Lancaster is definitely miscast, which was possibly a studio decision for marquee value. However, despite its flaws, "The Rose Tattoo" remains a worthy film for its Tennessee Williams lines and the brilliance of Magnani's performance. Unfortunately, the great Italian actress made far too few films and died much too young, so film lovers should relish this diamond-caliber performance, even if its setting is only gold-plated. .
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A memorable performance by Magnani.
Hermit C-215 July 1999
A great argument can be made that 'The Rose Tattoo' is a classic. It's a wonderful adaptation of a play by one of the most celebrated of modern playwrights, Tennessee Williams. It contains the performance of a lifetime by Anna Magnani, who won an Academy Award for it. The supporting cast also give excellent performances. It even has a fine score written by noted composer Alex North.

Magnani grabs hold of the role of Serafina Delle Rose and wrings everything she can out of it. She plays a lonely widow who is clinging to the idealized memory of her husband. She has little use for men (and not much more for women) until Burt Lancaster, playing an earthy truck driver, comes along and brings her back to life. Their courtship is swift and tempestuous.

Director Daniel Mann does a good job of making a movie out of what was once a play; only a few times do things get so wordy that you are reminded of the work's origin. Lancaster is fine in his role, but his character might be just a bit too broadly drawn. I was impressed with actress Marisa Pavan as Serafina's daughter, though she looks closer to 25 than the age of 15 the script says she is, not a unique occurrence in films. Her story also seems a little truncated compared to her mother's.
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Magnani makes an indelible mark in cinema
rosscinema9 March 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Though this film and it's story seems to be having a hard time holding up through the course of time it does possess one terrific performance that even today film buffs talk about. Story is about an Italian woman in Louisiana named Serafina Delle Rose (Anna Magnani) who becomes a widow when her husband is killed trying to smuggle goods in a truck. The rumors start to spread in her neighborhood that her husband had a mistress but she ignores the talk and withdraws into her home rarely going outdoors. She keeps a close watch on her teenage daughter Rosa (Marisa Pavan) but she falls in love with a sailor named Jack Hunter (Ben Cooper) so Serafina makes him promise not to touch her "Innocence".


One day Serafina meets Alvaro Mangiacavallo (Burt Lancaster) who's a truck driver and very open about looking for a nice woman to be with. They talk and seem to get along but he's not very sophisticated and when she finds out that he had a rose tattoo put on his chest like her late husband she wants to kick him out. But instead she makes him take her to where her husband's mistress works so she can confront her. Serafina discovers that she also has a rose tattoo on her and this makes her come to grips about her husbands infidelity.

This film was directed by Daniel Mann from Tennessee Williams play and Williams wrote the story with Magnani in mind for the play but she declined because of her lack of English. Mann had directed the play and when it was certain to be made into a film everyone managed to convince Magnani to take the role. She had learned some English during this time and had a coach on the set of this film to help her. This is another steamy Williams story and like most of his stories it's a drama set in a hot part of the country. It wouldn't be a Tennessee Williams story without the actors sweating bullets as they pour their heart out. Lancaster has been criticized for his performance and it's a role that seemed perfect for someone else. One of his greatest attributes as an actor was how powerful he could come across without being overly animated. Here his character Alvaro is a complete slob and a clumsy one at that. I was never convinced that Magnani's character would ever find him to be more than a friend, if that. But easily this is a film where you just sit back and marvel at the performance of Magnani. She had become a big theater actress in Italy but was relatively unknown here in America. She's perfect for her role and I cannot think of another actress that could have done a better job. Magnani could expose every thought and emotion on screen and make every viewer know what she's feeling at every moment. She was over the top but gloriously so. This is a case where a film and a performance needed an actress to go to another level to make the role her own. She not only does this but she took total command of her role in a way that very few actors have ever done. Magnani won the Academy Award for her performance and her win has stood the test of time. One of the overlooked things in this film is the performance of Pavan. This was one of the few good roles she had in her career but she was well cast as Magnani's daughter. More than once she got the better of the scenes when her character Rosa had to stand up to her mother. Good adaptation from Williams story make this an interesting film to watch and Magnani is a marvel to watch.
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So much for subtle!!
planktonrules24 March 2010
I think in many ways it's hard to see and appreciate "The Rose Tattoo" today. While in 1955 it was a hit and earned Anna Magnani the Oscar for Best Actress, to me today her performance seemed incredibly broad and overdone. At the time, people marveled at her earthiness and intensity--now, many would see this as overacting. To put it very bluntly, she screamed, ranted and acted more like a cow in extreme need of a c-section instead of a real person! Subtle her performance wasn't!

As for the story, it has some interesting elements and if the director had pushed for a slower and more restrained performance, I would have enjoyed it immensely. It begins with a man getting killed while being chased by police. He was a smuggler and he left a wife (Magnani) and daughter. Since his death, the wife has gotten in a rut--feeling sorry for herself, behaving horribly towards everyone around her and trying to convince herself that her husband was a much better man than he really was. However, no matter how hard she tries to distract herself by screaming and being unpleasant, these actions can't suffice to distract her completely--she worries that what neighbors say is correct--her husband had been cheating on her. As a result, she cycles between extreme anger and extreme piety--driving her poor daughter crazy in the process.

Nothing seems to be able to get her out of this funk until one day (about half way through the film) when she meets a vivacious younger man (Burt Lancaster) who, oddly, seems taken with her! Why? I have no idea, as Magnani's character is a pig in many ways--disheveled and with the personality of a boar! And, speaking of a character who is annoying, what's with Burt Lancaster? As I said above, his character is drawn to Magnani and this makes little sense--nor does his rushing out to get a tattoo to impress her just after he meets her. At first, his character was interesting, but after a while he, too, was anything but subtle. The combination of him and Magnani is simply too much for one movie!

I have seen about every Tennessee Williams film and would have to say this is one of the weakest. The plot isn't bad but the characters are just too shrill and tough to believe. The story should have been a lot better. And, frankly, I wonder how Sicilians felt watching this, as the Magnani's character seems to portray these Italians in a less than flattering light.
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Anna Magnani's Oscar Winner!
mdm-1121 May 2005
I had been a fan of Anna Magnani's films long before first viewing "The Rose Tattoo". Always intrigued by this great actor, my expectations for this film were easily met.

Magnani, a middle aged widow without means meets goodhearted Burt Lancaster, but feels she is betraying the memory of her late husband, whom she seems to worship even beyond his grave. Later the story reveals that this "gem" of a husband had been completely unfaithful and was not much to brag about.

Adapted from the Tennessee Williams play, this material transfers nicely to the screen. If you are a fan of the two incredible leads, you will enjoy this movie! The absolute best Anna Magnani film in my opinion is "Bellissima", unfortunately not currently available in the USA.
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Wonderful Acting!
whpratt127 September 2004
It has been years since I viewed this great B&W film with great stars like Anna Magnani,(Serafine Delle Rose)," Wild Is The Wind",'57, who played the role of an Italian woman who was deeply in love with her husband and thought he was a GOD! She had a daughter who she loved and over protected until she meets a handsome young Sailor. As the story progresses, Burt Lancaster,(Alvaro Mangiacovallo),"Atlantic City",'80 gets involved with Serafine and the film becomes a real Spin Zone. There is lots of drama, suspense, romance, and lots of comical scenes with wild fighting and screaming. Anna Magnani made this her first American film and won many awards for her great acting skills. A young Burt Lancaster gave an outstanding supporting role which launched his great acting career!
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An uneven film, with one great performance
burgbob97517 March 2002
Time has not been kind to The Rose Tattoo, a 1955 release that garnered three Oscars, plus additional nominations. Originally written by Tennessee Williams as a play, the film's shortcomings now cancel out much that audiences might have found entertaining about it 47 years ago. The deficits include bad acting all around (with the exception of the star, Anna Magnani) and an uneven script by Williams (who among other things was apparently clueless about how an adolescent boy and girl, attracted to each other, might talk or behave).

Playing the role of the dim-witted but sexy truck driver who courts a grieving widow (Magnani), Burt Lancaster gives a highly exaggerated "comedy performance" that is occasionally embarrassing to watch. A great natural actor in his other films and noted for his controlled physicallity, Lancaster here gawks, bends, waves his arms, makes faces, cries (clownishly), and is generally ape-like, all the while failing to get inside the character he's portraying. (Leading American actors have always had a problem convincingly playing people less intelligent than themselves; see Lon Chaney, Jr. in Of Mice and Men or, more recently, Jack Nicholson in Prizzi's Honor for more examples of this.)

Under the direction of Daniel Mann (who also directed the play), and intended as a comedy-drama, almost everything in Rose Tattoo is either loud or overblown (though it may have been Williams' wish that it be played this way in a misguided attempt to heighten the humorous dimension of the story). The host of supporting characters are all portrayed as one-dimensional grotesques or harpies who telegraph their every thought or emotion by arm-waving, facial contortions, or semiphoring the kind of villainousness that went out in the early '30s. Nor does Mann seem to have fine control over the physical goings-on by cast members. In some scenes small groups of people rush back and forth like obedient cattle, too obviously responding to off-camera direction; and at the high school prom a male extra noticeably freezes for a second or two as he waits for Marisa Pavan and her sailor dance partner to leave the floor ahead of him.

Magnani, for whom the play was written (though she just appeared in the film, after she had mastered the rudiments of the English language), comes across as the only real human being among a slew of posturing marionettes. Her portrayal of a terribly put-upon Sicilian widow fighting off the knowledge of her dead husband's infidelity and desperately trying to maintain her dignity in the face of snide remarks and out-and-out insults is awe-inspiring. I doubt that her performance has ever been matched by any American actress before or after. (Only Vivien Leigh, a Brit, comes to mind as a mentally disintegrating Blanche du Bois in the film version of Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire.) Williams, who was famously homosexual, understood and probably identified with vulnerable women. (Years before, his own sister, when a young woman, had been seriously mentally ill, "put away," and had undergone a lobotomy. It was no coincidence that her name was Rose.)
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This lusty, rousing and startling film results to be a patchy drama with terrific and attractive performances
ma-cortes7 September 2020
Remarkable and intelligent weeper account about a widow , her daughter and their suitors , being well directed and wonderfully performed . An Italian-American neighborhood in Louisiana is disturbed when trucker Rosario Delle Rose is killed when pursued by police his truck is crashed out . His mature widow miscarries , then over a period of long time draws more and more into herself , attempting to force her lovely teenaged daughter Rosa Delle Rose (Marisa Pavan, Pier Angeli's sister) to do likewise . On one eventful day , Rose finally breaks away along with his fiancé , handsome Seaman Jack Hunter (Ben Cooper) ; things go wrong when Serafina learns of deceased husband's affair with another woman (Virginia Grey) . Along the way , there appears a sympathetic seducer , the italian truck driver Alvaro Mangiacavallo (Burt Lancaster) . While romancing the widow , Alvaro learns the principal problem results in convincing her that their relationship will make all their lives better . While the other young couple have an unexpectedly tender romance , as the boyfriend attempts to persuade her that all will be better if they marry . Her blood boiled with desire...raged with jealous fury!.Seething with realism and frankness!. The boldest story of love you have ever been permitted to see!.

This is a plain and simple film with plenty of interesting drama , soap opera , emotion and two enjoyable romances . Filmmaker Daniel Mann has got a considerable success in delineating their troublesome roles in this fabricated soaper . Various character-studios furnish the basis for this agreeable drama and it results to be a superb piece of acting . It is a mostly staged drama in which the two main actors spend the majority of the movie attempting to persuade themselves . Nice screenplay by Hal Kanter and Tennessee Williams based on his own play dealing with sensitive themes such as the disintegration of a family , an enticing love story , rebellious adolescent and including engaging dialogs . Excellent interpretation by protagonist duo , Anna Magnani as Serafina Delle Rose playing magnificently the mature but attractive truck driver's widow , though she was 46 years old during filming and she previously achieved a big hit : Rome , city open . The picture also established Magnani's claim as a player of a great worth and paved the way for her Academy Award-winning success . While Burt Lancaster plays the new carefree, good-looking Italian truck driver who enters her life , as wooing a widow that leads to unexpected consequences and while delivering an awesome performance , though overacting , at times . This is a Daniel Mann film shot in his peculiar style , in fact he established himself as a first-rate actors' director while on Broadway. Under his direction Sidney Blackmer and Shirley Booth won Tony Awards for "Come Back, Little Sheba", which also became Mann's film directorial debut in 1952 with Burt Lancaster in support of Booth on the screen. Mann would direct her again in the less successful Hot Spell (1958) at the end of the decade. Booth won an Oscar for her work, as did Anna Magnani Rose Tatto (1955), which Mann also directed on Broadway with Maureen Stapleton in the part of the lonely Italian-American widow Serafina Delle Rose, which Tennessee Williams originally wrote with Magnani in mind . Anna Magnani beat out 'Susann Hayward in I'll cry tomorrow (1955) for the Oscar, another performance directed by Mann. The top-drawer main cast Anna Magnani and Burt lancaster are well supported by a very good support cast as Marisa Pavan , Ben Cooper , Virginia Grey and veteran Jo Van Fleet.

It displays a brilliant cinematography in black and white by James Wong Howe. As welll as an evocative musical score by Alex North. The motion picture was well directed by Daniel Mann . Mann was one of the top movie directors of the 1950s, helming a lot of successes as I'll cry tomorrow (1955), The teahouse of the moon of august (1956), The Last Angry Man (1959) and Butterfield 8 (1960), which brought Elizabeth Taylor her first Oscar. However, his film career began to decline in the 1960s. In the first half of the decade he still was given A-list pictures with top female stars like Anna Magnani, Rosalind Russell and Sophia Loren, but he also directed Dean Martin comedies and the spy movie spoof Flint (1966). His reputation waned and he played out his string in the 1970s and 1980s, directing TV movies and an embarrassingly bad feature about a boxing kangaroo, Super Rocky (1978) and another failed film, a Western titled Revengers , it was a real flop , because Mann being Drama expert , no Westerns . Rating : 7.5/10 . Above average.
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worth watching for the outstanding acting of Magnani
wonderlandAlice26 April 2005
I recommend this film solely to witness Magnani's performance, which was an utterly beautiful piece of acting, indeed. Although I did not feel pulled into the plot very much, I did sympathize with Magnani's character because she played her part with such heart. I must admit that I was disappointed by Lancaster's overacting, and the minor actors also were not at all impressive. Also, I do not feel inspired to read the play itself because I don't think that reading it could compare to watching Magnani's riveting performance through which Magnani's soul itself seems to bleed.

Although I cannot think of another film with such an engaging actress, the beginning tone and ambiance of this film reminded me of other Tennessee Williams works. The atmosphere is open, naked, and almost frightening; Williams's plays always introduce characters that are very human--weak, lonely, unsettled--and deeply passionate. He doesn't take care to hide the frightening and desperate side of people even though we may not want to see that. He makes no exception in this piece, and this sense of humanity is most effectively portrayed through Magnani.
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Hot Sicilian blood in the deep American south
clanciai11 January 2022
All the way through this film you wonder how Burt Lancaster could match Anna Magnani, and through half of the film you expect him to turn up. Well, he does turn up, and it is not too late, while Anna Magnani already hopelessly has made the entire film her own, like she did most of her films. Burt Lancaster is not bad, he does his very best to make a convincing Sicilian, but he succeeded better in Viscontis "The Leopard" ten years later. Here he is simply overdoing it, and and although that's what he is supposed to do as a Sicilian in the deep American south (together with Anna Magnani, also a Sicilian in the same predicament,) he does it a little too well, which robs him of being quite credible as a Sicilian. The play is good, Tennessee Williams was always more than reliable, and this out of his ordinary style is not an exception. But the one who really steals your heart is neither of these two but Marisa Pavan as the daughter - She is utterly convincing. It's a great film replenished with great acting, but it's neither among Tennessee Williams' or Burt Lancaster's best, although it could be one of Anna Magnani's best.
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Woman Well Past The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown
slokes14 December 2012
Think of a character equal parts Meryl Streep and Irene Pappas, only Sicilian and rather mad with grief, and you end up with Anna Magnani playing the wonderfully unhinged Serafina Delle Rosa in "The Rose Tattoo."

How crazy is Serafina? So much so you can't take her as a dramatic character because her most dramatic scenes play like comedy, yet you can't laugh too much because you feel such sympathy for her. Tennessee Williams' play becomes a rather endearing character piece with Magnani and director Daniel Mann working odd angles for maximum audience reaction.

Magnani plays Serafina as if she was a character not in a movie but in a song, namely Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus." For her, every opportunity to fondle her husband's torso is a chance to "reach out, touch faith." She believes so absolutely in his majesty that it's a bit of a blow, to put it lightly, when she discovers he's actually a louse. Can she break out of her spell and find new love, even if it's a clown wrapped in the body of Burt Lancaster?

Lancaster's performance here is both the film's weakest link and testament to the actor's willingness to serve a role at whatever cost. His character, Alvaro, thinks Magnani the perfect find, however dark the bags under her eyes and big her caboose. Whenever he laughs, you groan a bit because it's not convincing, yet you root for him all the same, both because it's Lancaster in a difficult role, and because he represents Serafina's one shot at happiness.

Magnani won the Oscar for best actress for her performance here. It's deserved for the way she works past any expectations of Hollywood beauty to present us with a character who wins us over despite the fact she's rather ridiculous. Others talk about her straight dramatic moments as witness of her artistry, but her two best moments for me are both comic.

In one, she corners a priest to make him confess to her what her husband confessed as part of a Holy Sacrament, something that would play heavy except for the way Magnani cleverly overplays her scene, not so much as you notice because of how emotional her character is, except when you see it a second time and see more clearly her absurd husband-worship overtaking her.

In the other, she corrals the boyfriend of her daughter (delectable Marisa Pavin) and makes him promise as a fellow Catholic to respect her daughter's virginity, while the daughter watches with obvious anger at her mother's power play. Yet when the boy agrees, the domineering Serafina becomes pleasantly affectionate, winning us over and reminding us of the price she paid for another man's lack of sexual restraint.

For most of the movie, Serafina is at her wits' end, and Magnini draws a fine line between protagonist and monster, again in a way that shreds the Hollywood image of the period. It's a rather overdrawn film, with lots of goofy scenes and Lancaster struggling to keep up his end of the proceedings, but when you give "The Rose Tattoo" a chance, you wind up enjoying it more than you may expect. Tennessee Williams wrote soapy stories, but he knew how to make them work, too.
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Boring, Annoying Drivel
StrictlyConfidential23 June 2018
To date - I believe that I have now seen every single film ever adapted to the screen from a Tennessee Williams' screenplay. And - IMO - "A Streetcar Named Desire" is the only one that has ever risen above the level of mediocrity and repulsiveness.

And, speaking about an irritating story-line - Next to "Suddenly Last Summer" - I rank "The Rose Tattoo" as second in line for the worst of them all. I mean - This film was absolutely filled to overflowing with annoying characters and peasant-mentality situations.

And casting Anna Magnani and Burt Lancaster as the "lovey-dovey" on-screen sweethearts was, indeed, a stroke of pure asininity of the highest order. 'Cause there was not even an ounce of passionate chemistry happening between these two duds at all.

Anyway - If I ever do come across another film that has anything to do with the likes of Tennessee Williams - I will avoid it like the plague. Indeed, I will.
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The Rose Tattoo is still alive in Key West, Florida
tedjmcburnett24 January 2011
This is my favorite movie of all time. I think the performance by Anna Magnanni, Marisa Pavan and the rest of the cast were superb. I have lived in Key West for the past 40 years and during that time I have watched the movie many times. All of the locations/scenes shot in the movie are still intact. Serafina's home is still a residence here, the grocery store where she shopped is still here (as a private residence), the Catholic church she attended (in reality it is Episcopal) is still here, the school where the dance took place is still a school here, and the bar scene is still here. When you visit Key West, you can feel the mood and ambiance of the movie even today and the characters from the film seem to come to life. I realize that it was supposed to take place in New Orleans. However, it was a stroke of good luck/genius that it was filmed here in Key West (Tennessee's home is still here) and the story, the film and the memories of the filming are still very much alive here. When you come here take a moment and see if you don't agree.
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No one could be more "naked" then Anna
Oscar-414 September 1998
Anna Magnani is the only actress that I have seen that is able to actually put her guts into a role. Unfortunately, and no pun intended, Anna put so much of herself in her acting career that she died of pancreatic cancer.

But you have to say if you ever sa this movie or even the others like Wild Is The Wind, you see an actress that surpasses the script. Anna lives her role as if she is there and there is no separation from Anna and Serafina Della Rose. You can tell that Anna has lived her part and her life by the bags under her eyes, but she holds nothing back, nothing. This kind of actress (not even Streep in Bridges of Madisson County where she played an Italian woman) can explode like Anna. In Rose Tatoo you see a woman who is utterly destroyed by the death of her husband, you see it, you feel it along with her. You also experience the mourning with Anna shamelessly wallowing in self-pity and depression, not wanting to live because her "rose" of a husband has been removed from her life. Her baron. Then we experience the disbelief when Serafina finds out that her Baron, her rose had been unfaithful to her. Anna Magnani expresses her joy, her sadness, her anger, her suspicion and her grief with such authenticity, you cannot help but see this movie over and over and over again, because it is so real. There were great things happening in 1955, first, I was born and then there was The Rose Tattoo.
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Rose by any other name
jarrodmcdonald-112 September 2022
Warning: Spoilers
Anna Magnani might be an acquired taste for some. Her performances tend to be overripe and at this point of her career, she still didn't have full command of the English language. So it's no surprise she delivers large chunks of dialogue in her native Italian. That in itself is fine, since she's playing an immigrant woman.

But Miss Magnani is so forcefully dramatic that all subtlety is lost in the role. One starts to think this woman can't even walk into the kitchen for a cup of coffee or use the toilet without it becoming a huge event. It would've been nice if producer Hal Wallis had asked director Daniel Mann to reign the actress in a bit, so we have some variety of human emotion that indicates how a housewife normally behaves day to day.

Yes, I understand...some people are high maintenance and everything that happens to them occurs at top volume. But it sort of becomes exhausting to watch what amounts to serious overacting. It also doesn't help that leading man Burt Lancaster fails to convey any subtlety with his characterization. As a result we have two extreme scene stealers operating full throttle, trying to outdo each other.

Fortunately Mr. Lancaster doesn't appear until the 52-minute mark. If we had to endure two hours of them going at it, then it might have been unbearable.

The reason I believe Magnani earned the Oscar, and deservedly so, is that despite the amped up shouting, she does register considerable earthiness. Also, she seems to comprehend the crux of the drama, which is that a long-suffering wife who gave her "rose" of a husband all the glory and adulation in the world, was horribly betrayed. So we have grief prolonged, that gives way to embarrassment.

Per Tennessee Williams' conception of the character she has to experience public humiliation in order to reach humility. The church scenes where she confronts the local priest (Sandro Giglio) about her husband's confessions is probably the best part. We can see how difficult acceptance and forgiveness will be for her.

I also feel Marisa Pavan does quite well as the daughter experiencing growing pains in this dysfunctional household. There are tender, understated moments between Miss Pavan and Ben Cooper who plays her sailor boyfriend. To be honest, this part of the story reminded me of the invalid daughter and gentleman caller in Williams' earlier masterpiece, The Glass Menagerie.

Mr. Cooper is suitably attractive, and he is able to generate the requisite amount of sincerity needed for the role. We want Pavan's character to find lasting happiness with him. There's a great scene where the boyfriend is made to kneel and pray to a statue of the Virgin, vowing he'll keep the daughter's innocence intact until marriage.

In the original Broadway stage production, a young Don Murray played the sailor, and Maureen Stapleton had Magnani's role. Interestingly, Stapleton took a supporting part under Magnani in THE FUGITIVE KIND in 1960, which was also written by Williams.

I did appreciate this film as a legitimate piece of theater turned into cinema. But I also got a bit of a headache from the loud stereotypes.
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The Subject Was Roses (and other things too)
lee_eisenberg25 December 2021
When one watches Tennessee Williams's works, one gets the feeling that the women on whom he focuses - whether in "A Streetcar Named Desire", "Baby Doll" or "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" - are the women who he wanted to be. Another example is "The Rose Tattoo". The protagonist is Serafina, an Italian immigrant in the southeast US. Distraught at her husband's death three years earlier, Serafina starts up a relationship with a truck driver while her daughter is in a relationship with a sailor.

Anna Magnani won an Oscar for her role as the fiery Serafina. Her repressed passions often come to the surface, resulting in intense scenes throughout the whole movie. Whether it's the late husband's infidelity or a pair of women who ask Serafina to mend their bandanas but then turn hostile, there's a lot to anger this woman.

In addition to Magnani, Burt Lancaster provides fine support as Serafina's new lover. His easygoing attitude is a pronounced contrast to her pent-up emotions boiling over. It all adds up to one fine movie. Definitely one that I recommend.
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Not Burt Lancaster's Finest
gavin694226 July 2016
An Italian-American neighborhood in Louisiana is disturbed when truck driver Rosario Delle Rose is killed by police while smuggling. His buxom widow Serafina miscarries, then over a period of years draws more and more into herself, trying to force her lovely teenaged daughter Rosa to do likewise.

Anna Magnani won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance, and it also won Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography and received five other nominations including Best Picture and Best Supporting actress for Marisa Pavan. Magnani was apparently hand-picked by Tennessee Williams. I can't say I enjoyed her very much, but clearly Williams was right, or at least knew who was right to impress the Academy.

I was surprised by the tattoo theme, especially since early on a woman is shown getting one. This was certainly not the norm in the 1950s. And tattoos were only $2.50? Wow. Even with inflation, that's a steal.
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Time to Remake this Classic Film!
Sylviastel4 March 2007
It has been over fifty years since Anna Magnani played the wonderful and tormented Serafina Della Rosa for Tennessee Williams' Rose Tattoo. Anyway, I think it's time somebody out there reconsidered updating this film to today's color. How about Linda Fiorentino who is about the same age as Anna Magnani was for The Rose Tattoo? Sadly, I wrote and sent a DVD and an original first edition book of The Rose Tattoo to Linda's representatives in Los Angeles but to no response as of yet. Maybe they think that nobody would be interested in a story about a mature Italian American woman tormented inside, pretending to be outside. Of course, there are other actresses who can do the role whether on stage which it still is or for a television movie or film. I thought Anna's performance was remarkable in that she was raw, determined, fierce, yet vulnerable and heartbroken. It reminds us that good films are not about special effects, violence, or sexuality but about a story, characters that we love and never forget.
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Mamma mia!
brogmiller12 November 2020
'The Rose Tattoo' is not one of Tennessee Williams' greatest plays but he has again written one of his many marvellous roles for actresses who are strong enough and brave enough to take them on.

Here we have the widow Serafina played by that force of Nature, Anna Magnani. Many feel that she was born to play the part. Williams was obviously of the same opinion as he wrote it for her! She did in fact decline to play the role on stage as she felt her English was not up to scratch and Maureen Stapleton, directed by Daniel Mann, created the role to great acclaim. However hard Magnani tried, the language always seemed to defeat her but that matters not as her emotional range, intensity and sheer 'heart' more than compensate.

Daniel Mann again directs and again proves his legendary skill with actresses. Burt Lancaster had worked previously with Mann on 'Come back, little Sheba' and in this he plays the part of truck driver Alvaro Mangiacavallo who falls for Serafina and will not take no for an answer. This character represents a tall order. He is Sicilian, a simpleton, has the body of an Adonis but 'the head of a clown' and for Hollywood purposes has to be played by an actor who is 'box office'. It is a very demanding role and although Lancaster would seem to fit the bill and has some fine moments he just about gets away with it thanks to his undeniable star quality. Both stars also exhibit a sense of comedy in their scenes but the 'chemistry' alas, is just not there.

Unsurprisingly, Marlon Brando was considered for the role and would go on to play opposite La Magnani in 'The Fugitive Kind', based on Williams' 'Orpheus Descending' in which she again played a character created by Maureen Stapleton! It was left to Visconti to make a real Sicilian out of Lancaster in 'The Leopard.' Great support here from Marisa Pavan, Jo van Fleet and Virginia Grey. There is an excellent score by Alex North.

This is just one of many fine films directed by Daniel Mann throughout the fifties when he could do wrong. Sadly his star began to wane in the sixties and apart from 'Five Finger Exercise' the quality of the material he was assigned to direct was unworthy of his talents.

Magnani, who justifiably garnered accolades and awards for her powerhouse performance, was once described by director William Dieterle as "the last of the great shameless emotionalists". There's no shame in that!
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Undereye Bags Meets the Bad Haircut -- Bizarre Middle Age Romance in Little Sicily Sparks Delightful Comedy
oldblackandwhite10 November 2010
James Mitchner once stated that the south is the same in every country. He said this in reference to the sharp differences of the people north and south in his beloved Spain, likening Andalusian Spanards to Southern Americans. But it seems to hold just as true, if not more so in Itally. Neopalitans and Sicilians are a completely different people from those of the more Northern reaches of the Itallian peninsula. So, when Sicilians started migrating to the United States in the 1880's, it is not surprising they gravitated to the area of New Orleans, then the southern-most U. S. metropolis (Houston was still a swampy village at the time). And it is not surprising they found a comfortable home there. Itallians as a race, especially the southern variety, have a flair for the melodramatic which they cultivate, glory in, and use as a formidable manipulative weapon, especially against their own family members. It is not for nothing that most of the best operas come from Itally. Well, we in the South are used to such, because were are used to Southern Belles, hillbilly grand mamas, Southern Baptist preachers, old style Southern gentlemen, Afro-American Church sisters, and just about any of our senators, all of whom can almost keep up with the best of Sicilians in the melodramatic department. I said "almost."

In the Rose Tattoo, set in an Itallian neighborhood close to New Orleans, the great Italian actress Anna Magnani, turns in her tour de force performance of high histrionics in this delightful farce from the usually grim Tennesse Williams. She is considerably aided by a gaggle of unknown actresses who play her frumpy, nosy neighbors, and a winning, off-character performance by Burt Lancaster as her clownish suitor. The earthy Ms. Magnani was unarguably deserving of the Best Actress Accademy Award she received for this role. Burt Lancaster showed what a fine actor he was, that he, as an established dashing leading man at the peak of his career, was willing to take on such an unglamorous role. Don't listen to the mavens who say he over-acted. The role called for it, and he did it brilliantly. He even consented to having his leonine locks sheared into a very badly done crew cut to cultivate his character's buffoonish appearance and, perhaps also, to make him look closer to the 47-year old Magnani in age.

It may be hard to believe how Americans of the 'fifties could see a sex symbol in a plump middle-aged, Itallian dame with bags like badly laundered shirt pockets beneath her eyes. But Anna Magnani was such at the time, and though not for every taste, she may still have a following in that department. She looked very good to me once she got cleaned up, but then I'm at a point in life where everyone under fifty looks young to me. She was actually only 5 years older than Lancaster, and there seems to be real chemistry between them in this movie. In any case they were good team for comedy, which is what the Rose Tattoo was, in spite of the failure of some humorless types to grasp it. It was a hoot all the way through -- at least for those who understand the futility of pretensions and the humor of the human condition. Even Anna's years of grieving depression over her supposedly wonderful, deceased husband was so ridiculously melodramatic as to be played for laughs.

The acting was first-rate from the top to the bottom of the cast. The lush sets , and the black & white, Vista Vision cinematography, both of which won Accademy Awards, were marvelous. The Rose Tattoo is one of the great comedies or the 1950's era.
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Another steamy Williams potboiler
dave13-113 April 2012
Anna Magnani was a revelation in this, her American debut film, as an earthy, tempestuous and full-blooded woman whose grief over the death of her husband is complicated by the discovery of his infidelity and the attentions of an unwelcome new suitor who holds out the offer of passion now gone from her life. Few actresses had ever made such a fiery arrival on American screens and her performance won her an Oscar as Best Actress. Subsequent screen appearances clearly showed that her acting range did not extend far beyond what she showed here, leading her to be somewhat typecast as a hyper-emotional Italian, but even if her legacy had only been this film, it would be memorable. Burt Lancaster is rather oddly cast as a slightly simple truck driver who has a crush on Magnani's character. Burt's physicality works here, but his obviously greater depth and awareness at times run counter to the live-in-the- moment needs of his not very bright character, and the resulting performance is never completely convincing. Marisa Pavan, the twin sister of better known Italian star Pier Angeli, got a nomination as best supporting actress as the fragile daughter struggling to hold her own grief in check, while searching for her place in a recognizably Tennessee Williams world of sultry Southern backwardness and soap opera passions. Excellent black and white cinematography by James Wong Howe won the film another Oscar and evocative production design created a believable Southern town square around which this otherwise rather stagy adaptation plays out. Like all Tennessee Williams dramas, this one can get somewhat overwrought at times, but Magnani and Pavan make it watchable - if ultimately dismissible - entertainment.
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