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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Includes new digital transfers of both versions of the film: Indiscretion of an American Wife: Selznick's 72-minute cut, including the Patti Page-performed overture "Autumn in Rome" and "Indiscretion"; Terminal Station (Stazione termini): De Sica's original 89-minute version
  • Exclusive audio commentary on Indiscretion by film scholar Leonard Leff (Hitchcock and Selznick: The Rich and Strange Collaboration of Alfred Hitchcock and David O. Selznick)
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Promotional materials

Indiscretion of an American Wife / Terminal Station


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Vittorio De Sica
Starring: Montgomery Clift, Jennifer Jones, Richard Beymer
2003 | 161 Minutes | Licensor: Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $ | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #202
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: August 19, 2003
Review Date: September 3, 2012

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SYNOPSIS

An American housewife (Jennifer Jones) vacationing in Italy reluctantly decides to put an end to her brief affair with an Italian academic (Montgomery Clift). She flees to Rome's Stazione Termini, where she bids him farewell, but he begs her to stay. The film's plot is simple; its production was not. The troubled collaboration between director Vittorio De Sica and producer David O. Selznick resulted in two cuts of the same film. De Sica's version, Terminal Station, was screened at a length of one-and-a-half hours, but after disappointing previews, Selznick severely re-edited it and changed the title to Indiscretion of an American Wife without De Sica's permission. The Criterion Collection is proud to present both versions of this controversial release.

Forum members rate this film 6.2/10

 

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PICTURE

Criterion presents Vittorio De Sicaís Terminal Station on DVD. It includes two versions of the film on the same disc, including De Sicaís original cut and the American edit, put together by David O. Selznick, titled Indiscretion of an American Wife. Both films are presented on this dual-layer disc in the aspect ratio of about 1.33:1.

Itís a bit of a toss-up as to which one looks better in terms of presentation but I would probably say the shorter Selznick cut is the better looking of the two. It presents a fairly detailed image, with sharply defined edges and a decent level of clarity, with the finer details coming through nicely. On occasion the image will get soft, though sometimes I wondered if it was because the focus may have been slightly off. Black and white levels are pretty good and gray levels are clearly defined.

The longer Terminal Station presents a somewhat softer picture and more problems in the digital transfer itself. The scenes the two versions share look about the same in terms of print condition, so I suspect that these scenes were taken from Indiscretionís cut and edited in with the new sequences. The sequences not in the latter film look a little off and stick out here. Overall everything is a little hazy and I could detect a brownish tint to it.

Print flaws appear in both, but are more frequent in Terminal Station, specifically the scenes unique to this version. In both cases I didn't spot any unusual artifacts that would hamper oneís viewing, any issues related to the general limitations of the DVD format.

7/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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Indiscretion of an American Wife

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Indiscretion of an American Wife

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Indiscretion of an American Wife

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Indiscretion of an American Wife

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Indiscretion of an American Wife

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Indiscretion of an American Wife

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Indiscretion of an American Wife

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Indiscretion of an American Wife

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Indiscretion of an American Wife

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Indiscretion of an American Wife

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Terminal Station

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Terminal Station

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Terminal Station

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Terminal Station

AUDIO

Both films get Dolby Digital 1.0 mono tracks and they do differ somewhat. Indiscretion sounds a little cleaner where Terminal Stationís is a little edgier. Both do sound hollow and flat, though, but dialogue is clear and articulate. Still, both show their age.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterion's DVD is slightly disappointing in the supplement department, but the disc does work great at showing you the power of editing.

The big feature is of course the fact two versions of the film are included here, both de Sica's Terminal Station and Selznick's trimmed Indiscretion of an American Wife. When test audiences didn't respond too well to Terminal Station, Selznick quickly trimmed it down by almost half an hour, hoping the shorter length and quicker pace may save the movie (it didn't). The beautiful part here is you can watch both versions and decide for yourself, seeing the little differences, which are actually quite amazing.

In all honesty I donít think either version works particularly but if I had to choose I would probably suggest De Sicaís longer cut. De Sica tried to blend neorealist sensibilities into what is commonly a generic Hollywood melodrama. The additional scenes are specifically about the local people and are cast by non-actors. These little breaks from what is a pretty basic ďforbidden romanceĒ plot are welcome, though I guess they donít have much of anything to do with the central story. Still, this little experiment on De Sicaís part is interesting even if itís not entirely successful and makes the film a little more special. Selznickís cut strips just about all of this stuff out (and even adds a bizarre opening short film) and focusses primarily on the romance between Jennifer Jones and Montgomery Clift. The issue here is that their story is not terribly interesting even if the two do work well together. Amazingly this shorter version, which runs just over an hour, is actually slower because of it.

The other supplements really only go along with Indiscretion unfortunately. An audio commentary by Leonard Leff plays with that version (but not Terminal Station) and he actually does a decent job on giving us the history of the production, as well as even offering insights into the film itself. He of course compares the two versions and talks about what works and what doesnít. Since it plays with the shorter version itís brief but it moves quickly and is informative, and opens up your eyes to how subtle differences can really impact a film.

The disc also includes publicity art for the Selznick version, all of which are rather amusing as they try to sell it off as a hot and scandalous movie. The trailer is pure hilarity, especially after you have seen the movie, as they try to sell it off as a movie about a hot affair that becomes the talk of the world. Selznick was obviously trying to make as much money off of it as quickly as he could. He sold it wrong, though, as the movie is nothing like what has been advertised, and that may have caused the film to bomb.

There are no features pertaining to Terminal Station directly, but the DVD comes with a booklet with an essay by David Kehr, talking about the film and its history, providing a great read that perfectly accompanies Leffís commentary.

The disappointing thing is the lack of comment cards from test audiences, like Criterion did with another Selznick DVD of theirs, Rebecca, and it also would have been great to have included any possible correspondence between Selznick and De Sica, though itís possible these no longer exist. But as it stands, along with the look at the power of editing, the supplements offer a unique look at De Sicaís attempt at a Hollywood effort, as well as a look into the troubled later history of Selznickís career.

6/10

CLOSING

The film is mediocre and Iím sure many would question it as a Criterion title but the release, though pretty slim on features overall, does offer a decent look into this period of the careers of both David O. Selznick and Vittorio De Sica. Itís also fascinating to get two versions of the film, showing how trimming can change a film so much. I think at the higher price of $39.95 itís a little overpriced, but if one can find it on sale (possibly Barnes & Nobleís half-price sale) itís worth picking up just for the film lesson the disc as a whole ultimately is.


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