Bitter Rice

2166. BITTER RICE (1948-ltaly). With VITTORIO GASSMAN, DORJS DOWLING, SILVANA MANGANO, RAF VALLONE. Directed by GUISEPPE DE SANTIS. Motion Picture Story written by DE SANTIS and CARLO L1ZZANI. Sexy Silvana Mangano sizzles in this, her first starring screen role. Her eye-popping performance made her an instant star not only in her homeland but across the globe. It would be fair to say that her presence here also helped win her a husband: the filmÕs proÂducer, DINO DE LAURENTUS, whom she married during the year of its release. Mangano plays Silvana, a buxom young woman who joins scores of other female laborers planting and tending rice in the fields of the Po Valley. Silvana is a woman of great passion. A trio of characters enter Silvana’s life: a jewel thief who is on the lam from the authorities: his melancholy girlfriend; and a war-weary soldier who is at once unselfish and courtly, and filled with a loathing for authority. These four peoÂple come together and what follows is a deeply involving and emotionally rich drama of exploitation, jealousy and betrayal. The film additionally is of historical note. During and after World War II, Italian directors such as Roberto Rossellini and Vittorio De Sica made films which were shot on actual locaÂtions with nonprofessional actors. These films soon were heralded for this “Neo-realism.” This film is neo-realist in that it was filmed on location and utilizes many nonprofessionals. There is an abunÂdance of raw sexuality in the film and the star power of Mangano and co-stars Gassman and Vallone (cast respectively as the thief and soldier) dominates all else. Director Guiseppe De Santis co- authored the story with Carlo Liszzani. They earned an Academy Award nomination for their effort. In Italian with English subtitles. 104 minutes. Drama