Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Riso Amaro (Bitter Rice) 1949

Finally, the great Italian drama from 1949 - RISO AMARO, or BITTER RICE (a decade before L'AVVENTURA - see below) which introduced Silvana Mangano to international audiences, an engrossing drama of life in the rice fields where thieves Doris Dowling and Vittorio Gassman flee to evade capture, but peasant girl Silvana (Silvana Mangano) is on to them and ingratiates herself with Doris ... then enter army captain Raf Vallone, so the stage is set for drama and tragedy. This is a great Dino de Laurentiis production and was such a hit that Mangano, Vallone and Gassman were teamed again in 1951 for ANNA (Mangano label), that torrid melodrama by Alberto Lattuada which I liked so much recently - this one too had the young Sophia Loren in the mix, in the background. A few years later in 1954 Loren had come to prominence in her own working in the rice fields drama WOMAN OF THE RIVER, which impressed me so much when I was about 12 - as mentioned before (Sophia Loren label) and it was in colour too!

Silvana though wasn't as ambitious as Sophia and was content to be cast in her husband De Laurentiis's films: ULYSSES, MAMBO (another favourite discovery of mine - Mangano label), and those two rarities I liked when young: Rene Clements' THE SEA WALL (THIS ANGRY AGE) and Lattuauda's THE TEMPEST, both 1958, and Martin Ritt's glum FIVE BRANDED WOMEN, 1960. Mangano continued thoughtout the 60s and 70s (while Loren, Vitti, Cardindale came to prominence) in comedies like IL DISCO VOLANTE and then in those Pasolini films like TEOREMA, OEDIPE RE (both '68) and for Visconti in DEATH IN VENICE, LUDWIG, CONVERSATION PIECE etc, as per my previous posts on her. It was odd seeing her popping up in the De Laurentiis production of David Lynch's DUNE in 1984, before her untimely death in 1989.

BITTER RICE though is terrific stuff and Silvana sizzles in those shorts showing her magnificent thighs and legs - she, Vallone and Gassman in their youthful prime are what movie stars are all about!

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