Offbeat subject matter boosted by a good performance by Anna Magnani looks a good possibility in general situations on the strength of her name, both statewide and elsewhere. Pic’s chances could be greatly heightened via a tightening of its first half, which builds too slowly. General, rather than arty, handling is suggested.
The Oscar winner’s first film since Rose Tattoo has an interesting central plot core, not always successfully developed in script form. A nun, forgetting her habit and dedication, has her innate maternal instincts aroused by a young child whose parents have abandoned him; she “adopts” him, but eventually realizes her faults and brings him back to his mother, who has by this time also come round to a realization of her parental duties.
The pic’s first half, with its reminiscences of other pix on “modern” nuns as well as for the successful Spanish Marcelino, Pan y Vino, in the way the moppet is handled and plotted, is weak and slow-paced, with humor appearing forced and even Miss Magnani over-straining for a lightweight comic effect, which does not always suit her. However, when the conflict between her duties and her maternal instinct comes to a head, pic builds rapidly to a hard-hitting, dramatic and moving finale in which the actress is able to unleash her formidable talent.
Piero Boccia, as the kid, has his winning moments, while Eleonora Rossi Drago and Antonio Cifariello lend okay support. Mario Camerini‘s direction is uneven and often appears listlessly to follow the script which, as noted; often offers the thespers indifferent material to work on. Lensing by Gianni Di Venanzo, both in locations on the island of Ischia and in Roman studios, is competent, and remaining credits are good.