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Film / Indiscretion of an American Wife

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A 1953 drama film from Italian director Vittorio De Sica, originally released as Stazione Termini (Terminal Station) before being re-edited and retitled for American release by producer David O. Selznick, whose wife Jennifer Jones stars along with Montgomery Clift. Truman Capote contributed to the screenplay.

Mary Forbes (Jones) is a housewife and mother from Philadelphia, visiting her sister in Rome. When she meets Giovanni Doria (Clift), an Italian-American professor who's returned to the old country to teach, she falls for him and they begin an illicit affair. Feeling guilty and unable to continue, Mary makes plans to travel to Paris by train (and from there return to America), but Giovanni intercepts her at the railroad station and declares his love for her. The couple spend the remaining time prior to her train's departure together, and Mary must decide whether or not she's really prepared to break things off with her paramour.

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Exists in two versions. De Sica turned in a 90-minute cut. Selznick, whose producing career was circling the drain by this point, chopped it down to 64 minutes and inserted some new footage.


Tropes:

  • Chiaroscuro: Lots of artfully-lit shots in the train station at night, the scene where Mary and Giovanni embracing in the abandoned train car standing out.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The American version isn't quite real time, but still covers barely an hour and a half in a train station.
  • In Medias Res: The whole whirlwind romance between Mary and Giovanni has already happened. As the film starts she is on the way to the train station to leave.
  • Percussive Pickpocket: The suspect sitting next to Mary and Giovanni at the police station is accused of having tried to do this; he insists he just brushed up against the other man.
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  • Real Time: The original cut was this, running an hour and half and following the couple from 7:00 to 8:30. Averted in the American edition which runs only 64 minutes.
  • Serious Business: You wouldn't think Italians would kick up a huge fuss over two people having sex in an idle, empty train car, but the station police arrest them both and take them to headquarters.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: Mary's affair with Giovanni is presented as passionate and romantic. (Try to imagine this story being staged this way if it were Indiscretion of an American Husband, with some businessman having an affair with Sophia Loren.)
  • Would Hit a Girl: Giovanni slaps Mary after she rejects him. Her nephew, who sees this, is outraged.

Alternative Title(s): Terminal Station, Stazione Termini

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