Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
Original title: Riso Amaro
Italy, 1949. Lux Film. Story by Giuseppe De Santis, Carlo Lizzani, Gianni Puccini, Screenplay by Corrado Alvaro, Giuseppe De Santis, Carlo Lizzani, Carlo Musso, Ivo Perilli, Gianni Puccini. Cinematography by Otello Martelli. Produced by Dino De Laurentiis. Music by Goffredo Petrassi. Production Design by Carlo Egidi. Costume Design by Anna Gobbi. Film Editing by Gabriele Varriale.
Classic film from the canon of Italian neo-realist dramas made in the forties and fifties, about labourers working on a rice field for the summer season. Vittorio Gassman plays a jewel thief who is on the run from the police after having stolen a jewelled necklace from a resort hotel. He gives the piece to his girlfriend (Doris Dowling) and tells her to get on a train with the migrating rice pickers to hide out for a while, leaving her to work there until later when he shows up with more schemes on his mind.
He also attracts the attention of the local sexpot (Silvana Mangano), who becomes immediately smitten with him and sees the opportunity to leave behind the life of farm labour and become a real lady. Although it features plot elements more at home in silly melodrama than anything by the likes of De Sica or Visconti (jewel thieves, sexy dance numbers, murder, suicide, catfights, etc.), it’s still grounded in a socially relevant theme and filmed with exquisitely gritty style.
Mangano is divinely sex, and Raf Vallone makes his mark as a nearby soldier who has nothing but lovin’ on his mind every time he looks at her.
The Criterion Collection: #792
Academy Award Nomination: Best Motion Picture Story
Cannes Film Festival: In Competition