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Two Women (1960)

Cast: Sophia Loren, Eleanor Brown, Jean-Paul Belmondo, more...
Director: Vittorio De Sica
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Studio: Madacy
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Italy
Running Time: 93 min.
Languages: Italian
Subtitles: English
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Normally, an actor or actress in a foreign-language film was not the ideal candidate for an Academy Award, inasmuch as his or her English-language "performance" was often dubbed in by an anonymous third party. Such was not the case of Sophia Loren in Two Women (La Ciociara), who did her own English dubbing. Adapted by director Vittorio De Sica and Cesare Zavattini from the novel by Alberto Moravia, Two Women is the semi-neorealist account of widow Cesira (Loren) and her teenaged daughter, Rosetta (Eleanora Brown), as they struggle to survive in war-ravaged Italy. A conventional romantic triangle between mother, daughter, and Michele (Jean-Paul Belmondo), is barely under way when the war rears its ugly head once more. Seeking shelter in a bombed-out church, Cesira and Rosetta are attacked and raped -- a horrifying sequence, capped by a freeze-frame close-up of Rosetta, her face a taut mask of terror (this image was enough to prompt a virulent "anti-smut" editorial in The Saturday Evening Post). Once they've recovered from this appalling experience, mother and daughter are offered a ride back to Rome by friendly truck driver Florindo (Renato Salvatori). Though Cesira had hoped to keep her daughter from compromising herself as a means of survival, she is crushed to discover that Rosetta has given herself to the truck driver in exchange for a pair of stockings. When Cesira and Rosetta finally reconcile, it is a grievous occasion, mourning the death of their mutual love, Michele. A last-minute replacement for Anna Magnani, Sophia Loren brought hitherto untapped depths of emotion to her performance in Two Women; she later stated that she was utilizing "sensory recall," dredging up memories of her own wartime experiences. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

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GreenCine Member Reviews

a terrible transfer of an important movie by kaream April 4, 2008 - 2:57 AM PDT
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
Sophia Loren won the Best Actress Oscar (IMDb says 1962, wikipedia says 1961) for her role as Cesira in this great film from De Sica.

But there is no decent transfer onto DVD in existence. This truly awful Madacy release is currently just about the only one available, so don't blame GC. And it's the only release I'm aware of that retains the original Italian soundtrack rather than being dubbed.

It's interesting, though, that this version is cut from 100' to 93'. I've also seen an English dubbed version on the Koch label, in a transfer only marginally better, that runs the full 100 minutes.

There's just one cut, starting roughly 45' into the movie, encompassing two sequential scenes. Following Michele and Cesira sitting in the dark talking about love, and Rosetta coming up to put her hands over her mother's eyes, the short version then cuts to Cesira and Rosetta talking in bed. The long version interpolates here a group of neighbors gathering together around a cook fire in a hut while Michele begins to read aloud from his Bible, and gets annoyed with the villagers for continually interrupting him and being obsessed with food and other possessions; Michele storms out and walks over to the cemetery where he is joined by Cesira, and he tells her that he loves her. There's no apparent reason for making this cut.

By all means give this important and stunning movie a try, but be aware that you'll need to be patient and forgiving of the transfer quality.

10 of 10 for the movie itself; 1 off for both the poor transfer and for the cut.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.66)
38 Votes
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