Combustible Celluloid
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With: Steve Cochran, Alida Valli, Betsy Blair, Gabriella Pallotta, Dorian Gray, Lynn Shaw, Mirna Girardi
Written by: Michelangelo Antonioni, Elio Bartolini, Ennio De Concini
Directed by: Michelangelo Antonioni
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: Italian, with English subtitles
Running Time: 116
Date: 10/22/1962

Il Grido (1957)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Quiet Cry

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

After an impressive feature debut, Story of a Love Affair (1950), it seemed to take Michelangelo Antonioni a little while to find his footing. Il Grido (1957) is sometimes considered one of his finer films, but it can be a bit of a trial. When a beautiful Italian woman, Irma (Alida Valli), discovers that her lawfully wedded husband is dead, her longtime lover, Aldo (Steve Cochran) -- with whom she has a daughter -- asserts that they should get married and legitimize their family. But Irma balks, insisting that she's in love with another man. So Aldo takes their daughter, Rosina (Mirna Girardi), and hits the road for a series of unconnected adventures.

In one of them, Aldo meets the beautiful Virginia (Dorian Gray), who runs a gas station. They begin a relationship, which ends abruptly when Rosina discovers her father and Virginia making love in a field. Il Grido is relentlessly grim and pessimistic, and often not easy to watch given the flat performance by its American star. Some have suggested that the movie cements the bridge between Italian Neo-Realism and Antonioni's later, more personal work, but -- his early documentaries notwithstanding -- I'm not sure that Antonioni was ever part of the school of Neo-Realism. It's certainly a professional film, making great use of landscape, and not without its moments of power, but it feels like a practice run for greater works to come.

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