Indiscretion Of An American Wife

  • 1953
  • 1 HR 03 MIN
  • NR
  • Drama

Jones is a Pennsylvania housewife on holiday in Rome. She bids farewell to her Italian lover, Clift (they get around his lack of an accent by saying that he had an American mother), and makes for the railway station. Clift follows her there and pleads with her to stay. They sneak into an empty railroad car for one final round of lovemaking, but their passion...read more

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Jones is a Pennsylvania housewife on holiday in Rome. She bids farewell to her Italian lover, Clift (they get around his lack of an accent by saying that he had an American mother), and makes for the railway station. Clift follows her there and pleads with her to stay. They sneak into an

empty railroad car for one final round of lovemaking, but their passion is cut short when a worker finds them almost in flagrante delicto and reports them to the authorities. They are taken to an official and charged with lewd behavior (the original cut showed lots more of their behavior than the

final release print). Cervi, the commissioner, changes his mind regarding the charges and sends them off. Jones leaves and Clift looks lovingly at the departing train and that's the whole movie. As is the case with so many movies, the behind-the-scenes activities were far more intriguing than the

film. Several writers worked on the script, including Truman Capote, Carson McCullers, Paul Gallico, Alberto Moravia as well as Zavattini, Prosperi, and Chiarini. It didn't help. De Sica couldn't speak English, so he wanted to hire an Italian to stand in for Clift and to tell that actor what he

wanted. Clift was then to ape the actor's movements to get the desired effects. It goes without saying that Clift was adamant in his refusal to perform in this fashion. He was also gay and that caused no end of trouble because costar Jones developed an attraction for him. When her affection wasn't

returned, she became depressed--so much so that it is reported she tossed a mink jacket down a toilet in her fury. The original title of the film was "Terminal Station," but David O. Selznick (married to Jones at the time) insisted it be changed. He was not the producer, but he stuck his nose in

so deeply into the project that there were many arguments between De Sica and Selznick. It was released as a 120-minute film in Europe but pared down to just over an hour for the US market. And at that length, it was still overlong. The editing cut out most of the subplots and De Sica's images of

the Roman people. The filmmakers must have been trying to create another BRIEF ENCOUNTER (the railway station, the impossible love, etc) but missed by a mile and a half. Reportedly, De Sica was frustrated by the final cut, which contained none of the Neo-Realist touches for which the director is

best known. Despite all of this, the film made some money, mainly due to the provocative title. Christian Dior's costume design earned an Oscar nomination.

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