Anna Magnani: One of the wonders of the modern world

Anna Magnani brings far more sheer passion to the screen than any other actress has done for a very long time

Annunci

Anna Magnani in "Wild is the Wind"

London, March 1958

Signorina Anna Magnani, might, I feel, be rated one of the wonders of the modern world: this superbly vital Italian actress has defeated Hollywood. Other Continental stars have been known to be groomed and gossiped out of existence in the celluloid city —not so Signorina Magnani. She remains magnificently herself—a strong, vibrant personality, dominating every film in which she appears. She refuses to be glamorized and, as the song crudely puts it “she won’t dish the dirt with the rest of the girls”: that’s to say, she snubs the columnists who try to pry into her private affairs. I think she is terrific.

In Wild is the Wind she is splendidly partnered by M. Anthony Quinn, who plays a prosperous Nevada sheep-farmer—a widower who brings Signorina Magnani to America as his second wife. His first wife was her sister and he seems to take it for granted that she will be as gentle and docile as the woman he lost. He does not understand her impulsive, passionate temperament and though, with clumsy tenderness, he tries to give her everything she wants, he wounds her deeply by his efforts to make her a carbon copy of her dead sister.

Fiercely desiring to be loved for herself, Signorina Magnani finds herself responding to the ardent advances of Mr. Quinn‘s adopted son, Mr. Anthony Franciosa. They become lovers. Mr. Quinn‘s anger on discovering this boils up volcanically. Mr. Franciosa, who will never forgive himself for the wrong he has done to the man he has regarded as a father, leaves the farm —and Signorina Magnani, shattered by his desertion, prepares to return to Italy. Mr. Quinn‘s rage subsides into grief and self-reproach: he begs her to stay with him.

I could not quite believe in the last minute reconciliation, with is optimistic suggestion that they will live happily ever after—but the acting, at least, is entirely convincing throughout and over Signorina Magnani‘s emotional range I am, as usual, lost in admiration. The Nevada landscape, photographed in black and white, is rugged and beautiful and the film has been impeccably directed by Mr. George Cukor.

Elspeth Grant

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A fortnight ago I intimated how enjoyable I found Wild is the Wind, vividly directed by George Cukor and still more vividly acted by Anna Magnani, Anthony Quinn, and Anthony Franciosa among the wild horses and not very tame sheep of Nevada. It is to be enjoyed because it deal with the human beings in emotional upset, in daring, in anger, and in distress.

Anna Magnani brings far more sheer passion to the screen than any other actress has done for a very long time. She is essentially the Italian peasant-woman, scornful of make-up, powerful of voice, uninhibited in her ways of communicating her deeply-felt emotions. She is a kind of poor man’s Duse, and she makes more than might be thought possible of her very congenial part in Wild is the Wind, where she is a Nevada sheep-farmer’s second wife, newly brought from Italy to replace her dead sister.

Alan Dent

Wild is the Wind

Miss Magnani turns in another notable performance, slimming expertly the problem of the seemingly unloved second wife

Anna Magnani in "Wild is the Wind"

December 1957

Top grade performances, some unusual film sequences and expert production highlight Wild is the Wind, a story of earthy passion. It may earn most of its attention from distaff audiences, to whom its problem of a second wife desperately seeking love will appeal strongly. In addition to its moisture content, the Hal Wallis production has some added marquee stature in the persons of Anna Magnani and Anthony Quinn, a pair of former Oscar winners who look like nominees again this year on the strength of these performances. Overall box-office prospect is good.

Screenplay by Arnold Schulman, from a story by Vittorio Nino Novarese, is a good one, particularly in its delineation of the characters. It’s an unusual switch in that it starts off on a comedy level before abruptly switching to the dramatic problem and long early portions of it are almost entirely in Italian. The device, which sounds odd, effectively sets the mood of the overall family relationships involved in the story.

Quinn is a wealthy sheep rancher in Nevada and goes back to the old country to wed the sister of his long-dead wife. He brings her home to a promise of happiness, but the shadow of the first wife is constantly between them. Even when he proposes a birthday toast to his bride, he calls her by her sister’s name. Her urgent need to be loved makes her mistake the growing attraction between herself and Anthony Franciosa, young Basque sheepherder who had been raised by Quinn. When their affair is discovered, Franciosa turns away from her and she’s ready to return to Italy when Quinn, finally conscious of his own need for her and discovering that romance has blossomed, convinces her to try again.

George Cukor has directed with taste and imagination and his skillful handling is evident. Under his direction, Miss Magnani turns in another notable performance, slimming expertly the problem of the seemingly unloved second wife. Characterization is particularly expert in initial scenes where, despite an almost total use of Italian, she vividly conveys her reactions.

Quinn also does a top job capturing the domineering quality of the rancher determined to run people’s lives as he does his ranch. And Franciosa also shines as the younger corner of the triangle, giving the part considerable depth. In lesser roles, Joseph Calleia does a highly effective job as Quinn‘s elder brother, Lili Valenty is good as Calleia‘s wife and Dolores Hart shows promise as Quinn‘s daughter whose marriage to Franciosa is taken as a foregone conclusion by the family.

Wallis has given the production top quality throughout and there are good technical credits including fine lensing by Charles Lang Jr., good art direction by Hal Pereira and Tambi Larsen, smooth editing by Warren Low and a fine underscore by Dimitri Tiomkin. Sound by Gene Marritt failed to measure up in some of the outdoor scenes. Tiomkin and Ned Washington turned out a title tune that will have some exploitation value and the Italian song Scapricciatello, by Fernando Albano and Pacifico Vento, sung by Miss Magnani, should also generate some interest as a noveltune entry.

Kep.