****/**** Image A- Sound A- Extras B
starring Vittorio Gassmann, Doris Dowling, Silvana Mangano, Raf Vallone
screenplay by Corrado Alvaro, Giuseppe De Santis, Carlo Lizzani,Carlo Musso, Ivo Perilli, Gianni Puccini
directed by Giuseppe De Santis
by Bryant Frazer Bitter Rice is a heck of a film. It's the story of a couple of refugees from an American film noir who stumble into a grindhouse showing an Italian social-issues drama. The beautiful losers are Walter and Francesca (Vittorio Gassman and Doris Dowling), a pair of small-time crooks on the run following the heist of a lifetime. The social conscience is personified by a class of peasant women who have for hundreds of years travelled from all over the country to work hard days in the rice fields of northern Italy, and also by, to some degree, ethical, committed soldier Marco (Raf Vallone), who lingers in the rice fields after his discharge because he has come to care about the fate of the women there. And the sex appeal is provided, in spades, by Silvana Mangano, a bombshell and a half. When producer Dino de Laurentiis and director Giuseppe De Santis cast the 18-year-old in the role, she had already appeared in a few films and had been the teenaged girlfriend of young Marcello Mastroianni. But her performance in Bitter Rice--a role that had her shaking her tits, swinging her hips, and hiking her skirt up to here--made her an overnight sensation.