Indiscretion of an American Wife
Romance, Drama | 63 mins | Released: 1953
Director: Vittorio De Sica
Starring: Jennifer Jones, Montgomery Clift, Gino Cervi, Richard Beymer, Oscar Blando, Nando Bruno, Memmo Carotenuto
Our Rating: 6
Black & White
While on vacation in Rome, married American Mary Forbes (Jennifer Jones) becomes entangled in an affair with an Italian man, Giovanni Doria (Montgomery Clift). As she prepares to leave Italy, Giovanni confesses his love for her; he doesn’t want her to go. Together they wander the railroad station where Mary is to take the train to Paris, then ultimately reunite with her husband and daughter in Philadelphia. Will she throw away her old life for this passionate new romance?
Indiscretion of an American Wife is based on the story Stazione Termini by Cesare Zavattini. Truman Capote was credited with writing the entire screenplay, but later claimed to have written only two scenes.
The film was an international co-production between De Sica’s own company and the Hollywood producer David O. Selznick, who commissioned it as a vehicle for his wife, Jennifer Jones.
The production of Indiscretion of an American Wife was troubled from the very beginning. Carson McCullers was originally chosen to write the screenplay, but Selznick fired her and replaced her with a series of writers, including Paul Gallico, Alberto Moravia and Capote. Disagreements ensued between De Sica and Selznick, and during production, Selznick would write 40- and 50-page letters to his director every day, although De Sica spoke no English. After agreeing to everything, De Sica has said, he simply did things his way. Montgomery Clift sided with De Sica in his disputes with Selznick, claiming that Selznick wanted the movie to look like a slick little love story, while De Sica wanted to depict a ruined romance. “Love relationship are ludicrous, painful, and gigantically disappointing. This couple loves each other, but they become unconnected.”
During the filming, Jones was distracted and saddened by the recent death of her former husband, actor Robert Walker, and badly missed her two sons, who were at school in Switzerland. She had been married to Selznick less than two years at that point, and they were having difficulties in the marriage.
The original release of Indiscretion of an American Wife ran 89 minutes, but it was later re-edited by Selznick down to 64 minutes and re-released as Indiscretion of an American Wife (and as Indiscretion in the UK). Clift declared that he hated the picture and denounced it as “a big fat failure.” Critics of the day agreed, giving it universally bad reviews. The two versions have been released together on DVD by The Criterion Collection. A 1998 remake of the film was made for television under the title Indiscretion of an American Wife.
A 1998 remake of the film was made for television under the title Indiscretion of an American Wife.
Film debut of Richard Beymer.
Marlon Brando, Louis Jourdan, and Richard Burton were all considered for the role of Montgomery Clift.
According to Judith M. Kass in ‘The Films of Montgomery Clift,’ Jennifer Jones developed a crush on Montgomery Clift, but when she found out that he was not inclined toward women, “she reportedly became so overwrought that she stuffed a mink jacket down the toilet of a portable dressing room.”
Because De Sica could not understand English, he hired an Italian actor, gave him instructions on how to stand and speak, and asked Montgomery Clift to mimic him. Clift refused.
A short, “Autumn in Rome,” was supervised by Selznick as a prologue to “Indiscretions” to supplement the feature’s brief 63-minute running time.
Patti Page appears only in the 1954 U.S.A. version, Indiscretion of an American Wife. She does not appear in the 1953 Italian original, Stazione Termini, directed by De Sica.
Because the movie was cut to 63 minutes for American audiences, David O. Selznick had William Cameron Menzies film a special prologue featuring Patti Page, in her movie debut, singing two songs created by Paul Weston from the soundtrack themes by Alessandro Cicognini, “Autumn in Rome” and “Indiscretion.”
The prologue is not shown with the TV prints or with the various P.D. versions of the film that are circulating, but it has been beautifully restored on the Criterion DVD version of the movie, which itself has been restored back to its original length as “Terminal Station.” Patti did not appear on the big screen again until six years later in “Elmer Gantry.”
In the Italian version of the Indiscretion of an American Wife: Jennifer Jones is dubbed by Lidia Simoneschi; Montgomery Clift by Giulio Panicali; and young Richard Beymer by Corrado Pani.