Two Women (1960)

Two Women (La Ciociara)
Directed by Vittorio De Sica
Written by Cesare Zavattini and Vittorio De Sica from a novel Alberto Moravia
1960/Italy/France
Compagnia Cinematographica Champion, Cocinor, etc.
Repeat viewing/Cinefest Free Trial on Amazon

Cesira: I’d like to see you living like I did, sleeping in a shed! And we ate once a day, that’s all. So, I went with the first one that said “I will bring you to Rome.” I married Rome, not him.

The story is set in the days and weeks following the Allied invasion of Italy in WWII.  Cesira (Sophia Loren) hasn’t done too badly during the war.  She married an older man, moved to Rome, and had her beloved daughter Rosetta.  Now a widow, she runs the grocery store her husband left her.  When the bombs start falling too close to home in the city, Cesira decides to flee with Rosetta to her home village.

At first things go relatively well.  Cesira has an ample supply of lira to purchase food with and takes things easy.  She and Rosetta become friendly with Michele (Jean-Paul Belmondo), an idealistic ex-seminary student who hates the war and facism.  Cesira is apolitical and just wants the war over with.  Life in the countryside goes downhill as the roads fill with Allied and German tanks and food supplies dwindle.

When the fighting gets close to home, Cesira attempts to flee again with Rosetta back to Rome.  Tragedy besets them on the way.  With Raf Vallone as Rosetta’s sometime married Roman lover.

Loren is the principal reason to see this finely crafted neo-realist drama.  She is very good but somehow her movie star good looks get in the way for me at times. I keep wondering what Anna Magnani would have done with the part.  The film is well worth seeking out.

For an Academy Award-winning film, this was surprisingly hard to get my hands on.  The version that was available was dubbed.  I’m pretty sure that Loren dubbed her own lines, less so for the other actors.  I think the only other time I saw this it was dubbed as well.  I’ll be sure to try it again if I can find the subtitled original Italian version

Sophia Loren won the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance in Two Women, making her the first actor to have done so for a foreign language film.

Fan trailer

2 thoughts on “Two Women (1960)

  1. I thought Loren was really good in this, but Magnani would have been transcendent. Simone Signoret would have been an interesting choice as well.

    That said, I’m starting to get numb to the “rape as plot device” story. I realize this was made in 1960 so it gets some leeway from me on that point, but still, there’s only so much of that I can take.

    • I generally avoid movies that I know will include a rape. At least I had seen this before and knew that it was not graphic. I had not remembered that the rapists wore turbans! Looked it up and found out the story was based on a true incident of mass rape by Moroccan colonial soldiers after the battle of Monte Casino.

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