Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. Italy/USA, 1953. Produzione Films Vittorio De Sica, Produzioni De Sica, Selznick Releasing Organization. Scenario by Cesare Zavattini, Screenplay by Cesare Zavattini, Luigi Chiarini, Giorgio Prosperi, Dialogue by Truman Capote, based on the story Terminal Station by Cesare Zavattini. Cinematography by G.R. Aldo. Produced by Vittorio De Sica. Music by Alessandro Cicognini. Production Design by Virgilio Marchi. Costume Design by Christian Dior. Film Editing by Jean Barker, Eraldo Da Roma. Academy Awards 1954. Cannes Film Festival 1953.
David O. Selznick teamed up with director Vittorio De Sica to produce a Hollywood movie in Rome using a story by Cesare Zavattini as its basis, and the result was a disaster. Thoroughly displeased with the process of working with de Sica and disappointed with the finished result, Selznick took the director’s 90 minute print (titled Terminal Station) and cut it down to 60, added a prologue in which Patti Page sings two songs inspired by the film’s musical score, and released it in the United States as Indiscretion of an American Wife. The result is a sweet but unremarkable look at the last few moments between a wealthy tourist (Jennifer Jones, Mrs. Selznick) and a handsome Italian man (Montgomery Clift, who is miles more convincing at the handsome than the Italian) with whom she has been having a passionate love affair. Now determined to get her life back on track, she is at Rome’s central station to board a train for Paris and leave her mistakes behind her, but when he shows up begging her to stay and live with him in Pisa, she is emotionally torn. Selznick’s interference was done without De Sica’s agreement, though the truth is that what he started with was not that much better to begin with. It plays out like little more than a sexier Brief Encounter, with the actors enjoying middling chemistry and the excuses to keep the plot going (such as Richard Beymer as Jones’s nephew or a section where they get arrested for indecency) are rather obvious as narrative diversions. Christian Dior earned his one and only Oscar nomination for the costume(s), however, and the lady does look crisply stunning throughout.