I have become a huge fan of Anna Magnani ever since I saw her recently in …And The Wild Wild Women (1959) & not to mention The Fugitive Kind 1960 Yet another incredible performance not only by the charismatic Magnani but Marlon Brando their chemistry is combustible!… And…
I’ve always loved Tennessee Williams. Just having finished watching The Rose Tattoo which won Magnani the Oscar for Best Actress in 1955, I felt like sharing one of the myriad of wonderful pieces of dialogue in this deeply emotional yet witty and engaging film directed by Daniel Mann.
The Baroness Serafina Delle Rosa loved her man with a passion that rivaled the sun itself. But he was wild like a Gypsy and when he dies in a police chase smuggling something illegal under the bananas in his truck, Serafina falls apart. She believes her husband was a God and she a mere peasant who worshiped him and so she goes into mourning like a good Sicilian woman hiding herself away and waiting for a sign from the Madonna. She is a deeply faithful woman.
She lives under the delusion that her man was perfect even though everyone else in the village knows that Rosario Delle Rosa was stepping out on his wife with Estelle Hohengarten (Virginia Grey ) who works at a night club in New Orleans.
Even after the town’s Strega, the priest, the fish wives and everyone else knows Serafina’s husband was unfaithful, she keeps the urn of his ashes on the mantle and lets her heart go to seed.
Then, one day Alvaro Mangiacavallo-(Burt Lancaster) wants to be set up with the widow as he has a good heart but is poor and lonely. He wants a woman who doesn’t have to be beautiful she can be plump, but has her own business and a nice home.
Burt Lancaster is always bigger than life no matter if he’s Elmer Gantry or Ole Swede Anderson in The Killers (1946)
Though he enters the film halfway through, his presence brings the oxygen that Serafina denies herself. She will not believe the lie, that her man was not ‘glorious’. She rants and raves and tears at herself dramatically throughout the story trying to deny what people say, and also denying herself as a sensual woman who deserves to be loved and desired.
I have always been so taken with how much Williams‘ perspective coming from the woman’s point of view is so sympathetic. His characters are usually flawed but very human, and filled with passion, and longing and a need to be desired and believed, and to be seen for who they are.
I am astounded by Magnani’s almost operatic performance as the volatile poignant authentic woman who holds on for as long as she can refusing to believe her ‘fictional’ beautiful man has betrayed her love. Even when she’s causing a commotion in town or shouting in Italian on her own front porch, her pain is palpable and you feel for her. Magnani is a muse for the passion in women that should never be taken for granted…Raw and bare… is Magnani’s Serafina.
But then begins a comical, tumultuous and a bit unorthodox courtship…
Alvaro- “Do you have a bathroom in your house?”
Serafina– “Of course we have a bathroom why”
Alvaro- “We don’t have one at our house and I would like to wash up because I think maybe I smell like a goat, you know…”
Serafina–“Please help yourself”—-He leaves the room
“Oh Madonna Sante… My husband’s body with the head… of a clown (hand gesture) A clown that smells like a goat…”
Your EverLovin Joey saying Oh Madonna Sante, I wish you all well!