Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Original title: La Ciociara
Italy/France, 1960. Compagnia Cinematografica Champion, Cocinor, Les Films Marceau, Société Générale de Cinématographie. Adaptation and Screenplay by Cesare Zavattini, based on the novel by Alberto Moravia. Cinematography by Gabor Pogany. Produced by Carlo Ponti. Music by Armando Trovajoli. Production Design by Gastone Medin. Costume Design by Elio Costanzi. Film Editing by Adriana Novelli. Academy Awards 1961. Cannes Film Festival 1961. Golden Globe Awards 1961. New York Film Critics Awards 1961.
Sophia Loren gives an excellent performance in this Vittorio de Sica melodrama, the only foreign-language film performance to win an acting Oscar until Robert De Niro in 1974 for The Godfather Part II. She plays a single mother who decides to flee the bombs that are tearing Rome apart and take her daughter to safety in her home village. The journey there leads to danger and a breakdown on the mother’s part when both she and her daughter are raped by Allied soldiers hiding in a church that they pass. Eventually, Loren finds herself attracting a proper gentleman (Jean-Paul Belmondo), but it’s not entirely certain that her sense of self-protection will allow her to accept his benign advances. The film is mostly memorable for its performances and for the shocking quality of its story, not among De Sica’s best work but a testament to Loren’s talent.