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Bitter Rice

Director:  Giuseppe De Santis
Year Released:  1949
Rating:  2.0

Two jewelry thieves, Walter (Vittorio Gassman) and Francesca (Doris Dowling), flee from the law and Francesca begins work as an undocumented seasonal rice farmer in northern Italy - later, voluptuous Silvana (Silvana Mangano) comes in the middle of their "partnership" and Walter concocts a plan to steal tons of rice (!). While it's grouped in with the neorealist films, it fits more in line with that of an exploitation-type movie, with gratuitous scenes of women slapping each other in muddy fields and a very young Mangano prancing around the frame, willing to use her beauty to get what she wants - it's quite dumb (don't expect any complex commentary on workers' rights or anything like that), but at least everyone's committed to it. Gassman's hood is right out of some Hollywood noir and Mangano proves that some Beauty Queens actually can act (although it's rare...).

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