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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.
Ossessione 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
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Top Customer Reviews
Don't expect this movie to be a study of life in WWII Italy. Though made during the war, it is never an issue. Indeed, with the prevalence of young men throughout the movie, it is more likely an image of pre-war Italy. And although some reviewers speak of subtle references to homosexuality, such is unnecessary in describing the Spaniard. Identical scenes in American Westerns are understood to be simply friendship and the necessities of circumstance, i.e., one bed and two people in need of sleep.
Every nuance of the movie hinges upon the passion of Gino and Giovanna, complicated by his desire to be going somewhere, anywhere, and her desire to remain settled. It's a traumatic but absorbing ride, even with the distraction of reading sub-titles.
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.Read more ›
The 1981 version with Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange certainly showed off the sexuality of the story, but was much too vapid and superficial; the director, Bob Rafelson, had apparently decided that the story's core was its sexuality and so focused on that at the expense of pretty much everything else. The desperation that should be brimming over in the development of the story is really not in evidence in this version--the two good looking leads basically just want to have sex a lot and that's what they do. They yell and scream, too, but it's the sex that everyone remembers in this film.
But Luchino Visconti, in this 1943 Italian neo-realist noir, gets it just right. Eroticism is here, but so is desperation, which is just as important, if not more so. This comes through so well because the setting is a small Italian village where there are no really wealthy folks. Everybody's engaged in his or her small activities to get by. The one exception is Giovanna's paunchy husband Giuseppe who's squirreled away a lot of dough.
And the desperation comes through in the doomed couple--Gino the drifter and Giovanna, the wife. Gino's labile temper and emotionality are well portrayed by Massimo Girotti, and Clara Calamai balances Girotti's performance with her depiction of Giovanna as a wife desperate to be free of her gross (to her) husband.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
The quality of this transfer surprised me. Very nice indeed.
Visconti amazes us once again. What a genius of eroticism
and political understanding.
This is one of the sexiest movies of all time! Pre-dating the Italian Neo-Realist wave of film-making by just a couple of years, its influence can be felt in the the movies of... Read morePublished on Aug. 15 2002 by Derek A. Estes
THIS is the earlier, unofficial, earthy, banned version of "The Postman Always Rings Twice" and quite the best of the three - the others are different, the Turner version... Read morePublished on Feb. 26 2002
An absolutely amazing film that changed cinema, and not just because it was the first film of the Italian neorealism movement. Read morePublished on Feb. 22 1999
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