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Archive for the ‘Directed by Vittorio De Sica’ Category

Indiscretion Of An American Wife

04 Dec

Indiscretion Of An American Wife – directed by Vittorio Da Sica – drama of a couple of grownups having to say goodbye in a railway station. 63 minutes black and white 1954.

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De Sica has an infallible comic sense. The entire picture takes place in a railway station, and he fills the canvas with absurd wonderful vignettes and intrusions. From the twelve year old boy to the 90 year old voyeur to the band marching to hail the arrival of The President to the ridiculous woman with the packages and the poodle. All this is spread before us as counterpoint and choral context to a tragedy. Unfortunately the tragedy does not ensue, for the simple reason that the passion necessary between the two characters burns only in the male. He is played by Montgomery Clift with complete conviction and intensity. You believe he loves her. You never believe she loves him. Oh, she is discomforted, she is upset, she is apologetic, she is various things, but she is never on fire for him. Jennifer Jones is the lady. And she remains The Lady, the wife of a producer who stole her from her husband and the father of her children, Robert Walker, with the promise of making her a big star. He then cast her as hot temptresses, women with names like Pearl and Ruby, whose illicit love-skills would drive even Gregory Peck to destruction, make even the righteous Charlton Heston’s stiff neck wobble. Naturally she is not going to play the thing she was: a two-timing wife, which is what she is cast as here. What she does here is a matron in a Dior suit. She is never indiscrete. Her uncertainty as an actress is touching. But pathos is insufficient for grand passion. Here as elsewhere she acts as though in a vitrine, holding herself as precious object to be gazed at behind glass. We know there is a longer version of this film, 90 minutes, with the original title, Stazione Termini –- Terminus in English, and the right title instead of this dreadfully wrong one. This is a version which was cut for American audiences and which failed to find them. Truman Capote wrote the English dialogue.

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