Ossessione (Visconti, 1943)
Link to trailer here.
After working in France with Jean Renoir, young Italian Marxist aristocrat Luchino Visconti was searching for a topic for his first film. Renoir had suggested the tawdry US novel The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain. Without permission for the rights, Visconti wrote an adaptation which turned out to be one of the earliest examples of Italian neo-realism, avant la lettre, in some ways the antithesis of the classic dark, expressionist works crafted in Hollywood and later labeled films noirs. Working in Italy during the war, Visconti was able to bring a more ambiguous and troubling sexual mood to the sordid criminal affair than the airbrushed MGM version several years later (and to be shown next month). According to Millicent Marcus, the Italian censors “allow[ed] Visconti to make a film whose revelation of passion and provincial squalor diametrically opposed the Mussolini regime’s ideas of artistic propriety.”
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