The first directorial effort in the brilliant, though sporadic, career of Luchino Visconti was made in 1942 but not shown in the US until 1959 because of copyright problems. Based on the James M. Cain novel The Postman Always Rings Twice, the film is a sizzling love story set against a
background of murder and adultery along the backroads of the Italian countryside. The nomadic Gino (Massimo Girotti), a man living under the illusion that attachments only act as a hindrance, happens upon the roadside inn run by Giovanna (Clara Calamai) and her older, grotesque-looking husband
(Juan de Landa). One look at this couple tells their entire story: she is young, beautiful, and full of passion, married to a man unequal to her in all areas except one--money. Giovanna soon takes a romantic interest in the visitor, discovering the spark that never ignited with her husband. It's a
potentially murderous situation.
Despite its exquisitely hardboiled source material and film noir plot, OSSESSIONE is often cited as the first harbinger of neorealism. The film was shot in the Italian countryside (as opposed to the studios--a technique favored by Jean Renoir, with whom Visconti apprenticed) and showed the Italian
people living in their natural environs. Because the Fascist government of 1942 had complete control over film production in Italy, Visconti had to have his script okayed before shooting. The government saw nothing wrong with the script he presented, but was quite shocked with the final product,
which displayed an Italy in contrast to the stylized depiction common to Italian films of the time. Fearful of political overtones, the government temporarily shelved the film, only to put it back into circulation after Mussolini saw and enjoyed it. As a portrayal of the conflict between moral
conscience and uncontrollable passion, between the need to maintain a secure existence and the desire to remain free of any confining forces, OSSESSIONE is a powerful statement, and a remarkable first film from Visconti.
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- Review: The first directorial effort in the brilliant, though sporadic, career of Luchino Visconti was made in 1942 but not shown in the US until 1959 because of copyright problems. Based on the James M. Cain novel The Postman Always Rings Twice, the film is a siz… (more)