68,4% of the film
Gio marries his dead wife's sister and brings her with him to America. His obsession for the dead woman and her feisty attitude bring them trouble.
You can find my short review of the film just by clicking HERE.
It actually starts out as a nice drama with a great chemistry between the leads, but it ends as a blah-blah melodrama, with no real direction. But Anna & Anthony Quinn give us European acting (almost) at its best.
Anna Magnani as Gioia
Just as I’ve admitted on the other blog, this is the first Anna Magnani film I’ve ever seen (shame on me); but I wasn’t that ignorant, as I had heard about her legend, as I knew her acting reputation. I expected the best and I mostly got it; not from the film, but from her delicious natural instinct of acting and the feeling that what I was seeing was routine for her, but in the good way!
Anna plays Gioia, an Italian woman who’s just married her dead sister’s husband (it’s not as freaky as it sounds). She comes with him to America, where he’s quite prosperous growing sheep. Here, their stormy marriage is disrupted by her sudden love for a much younger man, close to her husband. The role has lots of meat on it and it seems to fit her perfectly.
When she appears on screen she seems this weak, average looking woman in a new environment, suffocated by all the attention she gets, haunted by the image and comparison to Rosanna, the sister who died many years ago. I admit I totally appreciated the deglam, the modesty and the frailty of the character and I was completely spelled by Anna’s power of giving us sooo much in moments that might’ve been overplayed, theatricalised or completely ignored.
She grabs the character and never let’s go! The role itself seems perfect for her! Looking at her face expression I though of silent movies; because she’s always able to just let the face & eyes tell us about the character and at the same time make it look natural and deep. The screenplay doesn’t allow us to know her past, so it’s Anna’s job to try to give us much in her first scenes, but also saying little as to not overbear the viewer. Her laughter and her naiveté are charming and emotional.
And of course, she has another Italian as a screen partner. Though not as good as her, Anthony Quinn is a perfect support for Anna’s performance. Their chemistry is fabulous and puts the rest of the cast to shame. It’s a delight to see them interact. I’ve heard overacts a bit regarding Anna’s performance. I wouldn’t say that, or not for more than one scene.
Yes, she’s very loud and you can spot all the elements that might suggest overacting, but I kind of believed it was in the spirit of the character. As someone close to the Italian culture, I understand & I’ve met women like this one: women that just spill it out and open enough for you to know everything about them just be hearing them for a couple of minutes. Gioia is a kind, but simple woman and her reactions are instinctive, uncensored. It’s what makes her a great woman, unusual to an American person (character or viewer) and also a positive character I can relate to!
Unfortunately, this film also has Anthony Franciosa in it and I won’t bother with his awful performance. But the thing is that his failure brings down the second part. He’s Gioia’s love interest, so when Anthony Quinn is out of the spotlight and here’s comes this young dude, something happens to Anna’s performance. The cause is simple: no one to act with; Franciosa is like a dummy. So the chemistry is gone and the value of the scenes weakened fatally. She even overacts a bit in a dialogue with her lover. And it annoys me that the messiness of Wild is the Wind manages in the end to affect her performance.
Her haunting look is something one can’t forget! I repeat myself: she would’ve been a killer silent movie star! The emotion displayed is so natural and unpretentious that I think only a European could’ve managed in that era. It helps that the role fits perfectly but not that the screenplay otherwise disappoints! I can’t decide on the rating. It’s so close to a 4.50, but I was upset in the ending and she slipped a bit. But what a great performance, done so naturally and convincing! Oh yeah, and she also sings! .