Tribute to Naples, where director De Sica spent his first years, this is a collection of 6 Napolitean episodes : a clown exploited by a gangster ; an inconstant pizza seller (Sofia) loosing... See full summary »
Vittorio De Sica
Eduardo De Filippo
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
Mussolini's Italy, late 1930s: the Finzi-Contini are one of the leading wealthy families Jewish. Their adult children gather friends for tennis and parties at their lovely grounds, with the... See full summary »
Vittorio De Sica
Cesira is a beautiful widow and a successful grocery store owner in Rome. WWII is raging, and she fears for her beloved daughter, 13-year-old Rosetta, amid the daily bombings. They travel to the village where Cesira was born, where Cesira believes they will be safer. There, they are happy even as food dwindles. A young intellectual, Michele, falls in love with Cesira, who is too consumed with the well-being of her daughter and their survival to return his timid advances. As the allies advance, Cesira decides to return to Rome - and encounter the horrors of war at last.Written by
Sophia Loren became the first player to win an Acting Oscar for a foreign language film in Two Women or La Ciociara in her native Italy. She plays the title role here, the other woman being her daughter played in La Ciociara by Eleanora Brown.
The story here is a relatively simple one, Sophia and Eleanora leave Rome due to the bombing of Rome just prior to the Allied invasion of Italy. The political situation is in one state of flux to put it mildly. In a matter of days, Benito Mussolini was overthrown and General Badoglio put in charge of the government. But the Nazis suspecting something was afoot sent in troops and met the Allies in a pitched 21 day battle at Salerno which like Waterloo was a close run thing.
At one point Jean-Paul Belmondo asks a couple of stray British paratroopers who landed way up behind enemy lines why the Allies didn't land in Rome. In fact they almost did land an army there, but Eisenhower canceled the landing at the last moment and probably saved a lot of lives doing so.
But this isn't about great battles, it's about Two Women just trying to survive the ravages of war in the best way they can. Sophia decides their best place is in her old village, south towards Naples. Before the film ends, she's given plenty of reason to rethink that decision.
Sophia was the Best Actress in 1961 for this film and for reasons I don't understand it was not given any other Oscar nominations, including for Best Foreign Language Film and for Best Director for Vittorio DeSica.
If La Ciociara has a fault it's that it's Sophia's show totally. The village characters and that of her one time lover Raf Vallone are left undeveloped. Only the daughter and young intellectual Belmondo who falls for the earthy Sophia seem to be on the verge of becoming three dimensional.
The subject matter could never have been done in an American studio with the Code still firmly in place. I remember back in the day La Ciociara was shown at the art house circuit and many young juveniles considered it a mark of daring to get in and see Sophia Loren expose more than her American films had done up to that time.
Sophia Loren deserved that Oscar, every bit of it. And you'll agree if you see La Ciociara.
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