As many of you know, this is the first film adaptation of James M. Cain's novel, "The Postman Always Rings Twice", but there's something, that to me is even more important than that. It was the first film made by one of my favorite directors, Luchino Visconti.
Before I saw this movie, I think like most I saw the two American films first. When you watch those movies first and try to compare it to this, this one will come off being much different. It doesn't seem to follow the same formula. There were two things that bothered me about this movie and they both deal with the same thing, the death of the husband. First of all I didn't like the way the idea was approached. There wasn't much of a lead in. Though, in fairness, we do "sense" it will happen. Secondly, if you remember in the American versions, remember how well planned out everything was? They both made sure that they had all the angles figured out. They made sure they had a witness seeing that the husband was drunk. That was something I liked about the movie. How it showed this "perfect" plan. Visconti doesn't allow such detail into the actually murder scene. Infact, he offers none. Does that ruin the movie? No, but, it would have been nice if Visconti would have given the movie more detail.
Clara Calamai plays Giovanna Bragana the unhappy wife who wants to murder her husband. Massimo Girotti is Gino Costa, the man who help Giovanna kill her husband, so they can be together. Finally there's Juan de Landa, the husband. Now most of the movie follows the story most of us are familiar with. There are some small changes in this movie though. I can't clearly remember the American movies, but I don't remember in either one, the woman coming on to the guy first. In this movie it's the woman that makes the first move.
Luchino Visconti to me has always been a bold filmmaker. He made the kind of films he wanted to make. All of his films, including this one, are all about much more than meets the eye. This movie for instance isn't just a movie about a murder, it goes deeper than that. Or what about "The Innocent". It's not just merely a movie about a man having an affair. Visconti is making a comment on high society. Though, of all the Visconti films I have seen my favorite would probably be "Ludwig".
If you've never seen a Visconti film, I'm not quite sure this is where to start. "Ossessione" is a good movie, but, I don't think it captures Visconti's style at his best. You should see this movie though, but, maybe after you've seen "The Innocent", "The Leopard", & "Death in Venice". From the three versions of this story I think this one and the 1946 version our my favorite. Most people didn't like the 81 film.
Here's a little triva for everyone. Did you know that French filmmaker Jean Renoir gave Visconti the idea to make this movie? Did you also know that Visconti never read the book. Renoir gave him a Frenh translation of a script made before.
Bottom-line: An effective adaptation of Cain's classic novel. Good directing by Visconti and a talented cast. Visconti's first movie showcases the genius that would come in his later films. Very entertaining film.