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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Rose Tattoo (1955)

Not one of Tennessee Williams’ best plays but elevated by a bravura Oscar winning performance by Anna Magnani. Williams intended the play for Magnani but she was uncomfortable at that time with her English so Maureen Stapleton played the role. When the film version was ready, so was Magnani. A Sicilian widow (Magnani) in mourning for years for her husband must deal with the rebelliousness of her teenaged daughter (Marisa Pavan) and the recent knowledge of her husband’s infidelity at the same time. Into her life comes a loutish truck driver (Burt Lancaster) who starts bringing her back to life. The screenplay is by Williams but it lacks the poetry of his best works. Magnani is brilliant and gets under the skin of her character. In contrast, Lancaster is atrocious. His performance is forced and we are always conscious of him trying too hard. The handsome B&W cinematography of the masterful James Wong Howe also won an Oscar and the evocative score by Alex North was also nominated. Directed by Daniel Mann (BUTTERFIELD 8). With Virginia Grey, Jo Van Fleet and Ben Cooper.

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