Indiscretion of an American Wife (1953)

Indiscretion of an American Wife (1953)

“This lady’s here to catch a train.”

A married American (Jennifer Jones) resists saying goodbye to her Italian lover (Montgomery Clift) at the train station while her nephew (Richard Beymer) looks on in puzzlement, and the clock continues to tick.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Infidelity
  • Jennifer Jones Films
  • Living Nightmare
  • Montgomery Clift Films
  • Star-Crossed Lovers
  • Trains and Subways
  • Vittorio De Sica Films

As discussed in both DVD Savant and TCM’s articles, this “attempt to mix two distinct and incompatible styles” — those of producer David O. Selznick and Italian director Vittorio De Sica — makes for a “fascinating failure”. Indeed, it’s not surprising the entire affair — originally entitled Terminal Station — plays like an extended living nightmare, presenting Jones as trapped within in a real-life set (a Roman train station) where she literally can’t escape her past or move forward. Jones was apparently traumatized by Selznick’s interference throughout filming, which shows in her performance, adding an appropriate air of despair to the surreal proceedings. At just about an hour+ long, this claustrophobic film feels longer than it is, yet simultaneously truncated — which makes sense, given that Selznick cut out about 20 minutes of sub-plots (!).

Note: Check out Criterion’s DVD for a comparison of both the American (72 minutes) and Italian (89 minutes) version; with that said, the version I found online was only 63 minutes (?).

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Atmospheric cinematography
  • Effective use of a single realistic set

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a one time look.


One thought on “Indiscretion of an American Wife (1953)

  1. First viewing. Skip it.

    Silly, somewhat laughably overwrought. Even at just over an hour, it would be hard to take another minute of it. Yikes.

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