Just as David O. Selznick and Alfred Hitchcock had clashed while filming Rebecca, the meddlesome producer left his Hollywood imprint on the troubled production of Vittorio De Sica's Terminal Station. Selznick's career was ... more »fading fast, and while self-exiled in Europe he seized on the notion of melding De Sica's masterful neorealism with a daring but otherwise conventional studio romance, casting big stars in a turgid melodrama about a Philadelphia housewife traveling in Rome (Jennifer Jones, Selznick's wife) who must choose between marital fidelity or illicit passion with a lovestruck Italian (Montgomery Clift) as she prepares to depart from Rome's coldly modern Stazione Termini. After De Sica's 89-minute Terminal Station tested poorly with audiences, Selznick cut the film to 64 minutes (excising most of De Sica's neorealistic atmosphere), added an 8-minute prologue of Patti Page singing two moody ballads to pad the truncated running time, and still failed to attract audiences with his gauchely retitled Indiscretion of an American Wife. Both versions are included on Criterion's magnificent DVD, allowing latter-day viewers a revealing comparison/contrast between Selznick's commercial taste (glossy and sentimental) and De Sica's artistic vision. Indiscretion turns Jones's overwrought character into a dimensionless focus of guilt and shame, lacking the moral depth of Terminal Station, in which her dilemma is more compellingly explored. Inevitably, only De Sica's version achieves Selznick's original goal: It's a remarkable hybrid of neorealism (with its authentic setting populated by people of all classes, subtly affecting the story) and Selznick's heavy-handed moralizing (with a partial dialogue polish by Truman Capote). Commentary by film scholar Leonard Leff and liner notes by critic Dave Kehr further illuminate this clash of formidable talents, illustrating how both films, gloriously restored, serve the divergent purposes of their creators. --Jeff Shannon« less
""Terminal Station" was the result of a meeting of minds between two world famous filmmakers - Italy's Vittorio De Sica and U.S. mega-producer David O. Selznick. Their ideas of filmmaking were at opposite ends of the spectrum and the end result for the film was disastrous.De Sica was one of Italy's pioneers of the "neo-realism" style of filmmaking which emphasized a gritty realism utilizing small budgets, hand-held cameras and actors with "characteristic" faces. David O. Selznick, on the other hand, was one of Hollywood's most successful producers who name was behind a roster of impressive films, notably "Gone With The Wind." His style was more reserved, romantic and "high-gloss." In 1942, Selznick had discovered a young girl from Tulsa, Oklahoma named Phylis Isley whom he groomed for stardom and changed her name to Jennifer Jones. Jennifer Jones was a unique and talented actress who earned an Academy Award for her first major role in "The Song of Bernadette." She followed that film with an impressive list of roles that wisely emphasized her versatility and she avoided being type-cast. Indeed, only three years after winning the Oscar for her "saintliness" in "Song of Bernadette," she shocked film goers with a brazen display of sensuality as a half-breed half caste girl in "Duel In The Sun." She earned Oscar nominations four years in a row in the mid 40s. Selznick married Jones in 1949 and took on her career full time. For her, this proved to be more detrimental than helpful. Selznick was a control freak who tried to dictate every aspect concerning her appearance and choice of roles. Her best films would be done by other directors and producers who would wisely turn a deaf ear to Selznick's intrusions. The De Sica/Selznick project began in 1952. "Terminal Station" was filmed entirely in Rome's sleek new railway station during late night hours and it didn't take long for De Sica's style of realism to clash with Selznick's expectations for the film. Selznick insisted that another cinematographer be brought in to film Montgomery Clift and Jennifer's close-ups so that they would appear more "glamorous." After the film was completed, Selznick edited the 90 minute film down to 63 minutes for the U.S. release and retitled it "Indiscretion of an American Wife." Both versions failed at the box office and with critics. The film looked wonderful and the camera-work was stunning, especially the close-ups of Jones and Clift. But the problem with the film basically lay in the story itself - there was not too much to it. The story is told in "real time" and is the farewell between a Philadelphia house-wife and her Italian lover. De Sica's additions of minor characters in the station (some for comic relief) did little to help the otherwise flat story. The acting by both leads, however, was superior and the chemistry between Jones and Clift is very steamy. Considering that the film was made in the early 50s, it is also quite frank and daring in subject matter.Criterion has restored both versions of the film for the dvd and they have done a spectacular job. A commentary by Leonard Leff is very informative and covers everything from the colorful but troubled production history to interesting tidbits about Jones and Clift's acting styles and personal lives. A gallery of the film's ads and posters is included. This dvd would especially be helpful to film students who want to study the styles of two very different film-makers."
Brilliant, mesmerizing piece
Blue Frog | California | 02/26/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Indiscretion takes place in one locale only, Rome's main train terminal. It chronicles the final moments of an ill-fated tryst between an Italian man (Montgomery Clift) and an American housewife (Jennifer Jones). But do not be fooled by the simplicity of this synopsis. Indiscretion is a multi-layered, surrealist script which, by focusing on the love affair between two people, takes a very courageous, analytical look at the clockwork behind the man's actions and the realities and demands of the society which formulates and steers those actions. In this story, it explains how this clockwork dictates and rules our lives, for better or worse. This analyzation is non-judgemental, and thankfully so. Heavily targeted here are religion (monks and clerics are always nearby, following scenes between the couple), mortality and the fleeting nature of life (sinister clocks tick away, leaving less and less time available to the lovers), social and political authority (the threatening and humiliating experience of being arrested by a foreign authority), the universal compassion of humanity (the sick passenger and the ripping up of the police charge), the institution and sanctity of marriage (the pictures of the woman's child, her nephew representing and reminding her of the importance of the family), among many others. They are presented here for one reason alone: to demonstrate the complexity of the human experience, and to quite brutally prove what type of influence the world around us has on making subjective decisions. The viewer, as a result, is apt to be asking themselves over and over, "What is she going to do? ... What is she going to do?" Like the recent German film Run Lola Run, we see the power and significance that the ramifications subjective decision-making holds.Indiscretion is rare piece of cinema in that it analyzes and exposes without making moralistic critiques. How this film could have been made in the 1950s is something of a conundrum to me, though I imagine it has something to do with Truman Capote working on the script, Montgomery Clift's genius, and of course a very unique director!To make this experience all the more interesting is the real-life drama which unfolded between the two lead actors in this film. In the film, Clift was the catalyst for the couple's love, desperately trying to turn the fate of his lover in his direction, ultimately failing. Off-screen, it was Jones who tried to do so, ultimately failing due to Clift's sexual orientation.This film is a gem. If you're interested in films which unabashedly strip the human experience naked, this is for you. If you're looking for an feel-good, life-affirming Hollywood script stay clear."
Illicit Love in the 50's... It was Hot!!!
Marquita L. Byrd | 10/14/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I loved it. We always think of the 50's as being so pure and correct. Here we see people were just as prone to adultery as they are today. This movie shows how a torrid love affair can be filmed without taking off the clothes. It is the story of an American housewife who has been visiting her sister in Italy and ends up having an affair with a college professor. They are insanely in love. She is at the train station preparing to leave for home.
Professor shows up. It is awkward because her innocent nephew is there to see her off. In this train station we see uninhibited lust, the insanity of being in love, all of this against the backdrop of the daily activities in the train station. I was breathless, glued to the set!!!This type of story is some much more difficult to tell without the torrid bedroom scenes, but sooooo erotic.Montgomery Cliff as the Professor could not pull of the Italian bit. He did not look it, nor sound it. He was thin, rackish, the last actor I would have expected to be cast in such a role. But he did an excellent job. He was moody, explosive, begging, sobbing, demanding. I didn't know he had it in him.I enjoyed it throughly.I wish we could see more films like this today. Love and lust with artistry. It takes nothing to make this work with full body contact between unclothed actors. This took real directing and acting talent."
A true event for De Sica fans
Daniel Brunn | 08/23/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As a fan of both Italian neorealism and 1950's melodrama, the restoration of Vittorio De Sica's "Terminal Station" was something I'd looked forward to. I'd never seen either version of the movie, but I was not disappointed at all when I popped the DVD out of the wrapping and put it straight into the machine.Frankly, I didn't think Selznick's version, "Indiscretion of an American Wife," was that bad, but of course, De Sica's cut is better. I really like films set in confined areas, and the lovely architecture of Rome's Stazione Termine functions as another character in the film. Montgomery Clift and Jennifer Jones are wonderful, as is the cinematography -- you lose yourself in this soft-focus black and white world -- and De Sica's attention to small characters and atmosphere.Although I do not think this is a masterpiece by any means, it is truly a beautiful film, and worthy for collectors who like De Sica's other work ("Bicycle Thief," "Shoeshine," "Umberto D" etc.), Rossellini's work with Ingrid Bergman (specifically "Voyage to Italy," which also blends Hollywood stars and a Italian Neorealist director to explore hard truths about adult relationships) and Douglas Sirk melodramas. As an aside, the mid-20th century European train setting made me pop in my Criterion disc of "Brief Encounter," and that made for a great double feature. As far as the DVD itself goes, I thought it was excellent in terms of the restoration and digital transfer; you get 2 versions of the same film (plus the short starring Patti Page that was included with the theatrical release of "Indiscretion"); and an informative, good though not incredible commentary from the guy (Leonard Leff) who did the excellent Hitchcock/Selznick book (Hitchcock and Selznick: The Rich and Strange Collaboration of Alfred Hitchcock and David O. Selznick). Enjoy."
A flawed Masterpiece
Daniel Brunn | Los Angeles, California | 02/11/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When I first saw this film I was captured by the grainy Black and white realism and surrealism of the cinematography. I found myself disappearing in a past life somewhere in Italy in a train station and feeling like a fly on the wall as these two people were going throughout the different changes that emotions and time restraint love can cause. I love this movie because of that. To me that is what a film should do. Displace you. Unfortunately as most will observe something is missing. Namely part of the film. For some reason or another censors and others who felt the film was too long. Ridiculous as it is. Made many cuts and have left us with just a part of something that may have been great. Some people criticize Jennifer Jones as a bit too overacting but some people are very edgy in moments of change and despair. Montgomery Clift is so brilliant that it's hard to not see the differences in acting styles between him and Jennifer and that may make some think that there is no chemistry between the leads but I don't agree. Anyone who has researched about the making of this film should know that Jennifer Jones was very much in love with Montgomery Clift and completely devastated when she found out about his sexual orientation. This only adds to the emotional background for the story and propels the film even further in my opinion. Victorio De Sica did a masterful job in directing everything from background players to the many other actors who had little parts here and there to add color to the story. One day maybe we will see a restored version of this film and see Victorio's masterpiece as it should have been presented."