Indiscretion of an American Wife

Screening on Film
Directed by Vittorio De Sica.
With Jennifer Jones, Montgomery Clift, Gino Cervi.
US/Italy, 1953, 35mm, black & white, 64 min.

American producer David O. Selznick commissioned a film from De Sica and Zavattini to star his wife Jennifer Jones, perhaps in the hope of emulating the string of films by Rossellini starring Ingrid Bergman. Zavattini crafted a touching story of an American woman in a loveless marriage who has an affair while on vacation in Italy, but Selznick nevertheless rejected the 90-minute film that De Sica made. Instead, he had it cut by more than twenty minutes and re-edited the rest to look more like a standard Hollywood star vehicle, with a (very) slightly racier script, breaking up De Sica’s long takes by inserting close-ups and snipping out shots meant to give a more detailed sense of the milieu in and around Rome’s then-new Terminal Station. Much of the original’s length was lost by lopping off the opening sequence in which Jones’ character goes to the apartment of her lover (Montgomery Clift) for a rendezvous but flees to the station without seeing him. The loss of this sequence removes much of the evidence of her character’s hesitation between her lover and her husband. What remains of De Sica’s film is a fascinating hybrid with moving performances by both Jones and Clift.

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Vittorio De Sica. Neorealism, Melodrama, Fantasy