isn't just the finest film version of The Postman Always Rings Twice
, James M. Cain's classic tale
of murder, betrayal, and erotic obsession; it's also the first masterpiece of Italian neorealism and
a key historical precursor of film noir. A handsome drifter (Massimo Girotti) fetches up at an isolated roadhouse, gets mutually besotted with the proprietor's sultry wife (Clara Calamai), and has soon carried out a plot to murder the older man in an apparent off-road accident. That's only the beginning, of course. In his directorial debut, Luchino Visconti weaves a sensuous, tragic spell, born equally of the stark, sun-struck settings--especially those utterly realistic yet somehow otherworldly highways, elevated above the surrounding marshland--and a dynamic camera style that lifts the storytelling to operatic heights. Yet another layer of erotic complication is added by the presence of "La Spagnolo" (Elio Marcuzzo), a philosopher-king of vagabonds who--like the director--is at least as infatuated with Girotti's studly beauty as the heroine is. --Richard T. Jameson
Passion turns deadly in this controversial neo-realist classic from acclaimed director Luchino Visconti (Death in Venice), adapted from James M. Cain's "The Postman Always Rings Twice." Beautiful hotel owner Giovanna ("Deep Red's" Clara Calamai) is hopelessly drawn to Gino ("Last Tango in Paris'" Massimo Girotti), a handsome drifter. They decide to kill off her spouse and collect his hefty insurance premium, but soon the lovers are trapped in a spiral of deception, jealousy, and fate. Banned and censored for years, "Ossessione" profoundly affected generations of audiences after causing a stormy religious and political scandal in Italy, and is now available in its original, uncensored director's cut.