How Hollywood Doctored a Neorealist Classic

Slate's Culture Blog
July 30 2013 3:10 PM

Hollywood and Neorealism, Side by Side

In 1953, Bicycle Thief director Vittorio De Sica directed Terminal Station, a collaboration with legendary Hollywood producer David O. Selznick (Gone With the Wind). As pointed out by this brilliant video essay for Sight & Sound from Ernie Park—whom we know as the video whiz kogonada—the film represented the clash of two great sensibilities: The movements of Italian neorealism, as represented by De Sica, and classical Hollywood filmmaking, as represented by Selznick.

In fact, their two sensibilities were so different that in 1954 Selznick cut 25 minutes from De Sica’s film—focusing in on the romantic leads at the price of the less glamorous characters on the periphery—and released the movie with the more lascivious title Indiscretion of an American Wife. (Both versions are available from the Criterion Collection.) The film received terrible reviews, but, as Park reveals with some very slick editing of his own, the two cuts reveal a lot about the different ways we tell stories.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. Email him at Forrest.Wickman@slate.com.