While Magnani’s ex-lover Roberto Rossellini was shooting Stromboli with his new Hollywood girlfriend Ingrid Bergman, the Italian actress was filming this rival neorealist drama—also about a woman stranded on a hostile volcanic island—just a few miles away. The result was tabloid gold, as well as a genuinely fascinating movie in which Magnani plays a prostitute banished from Naples and forced to return to the hardscrabble island of her childhood. There, she is shunned by the community’s moralistic denizens as she tries to save her younger sister (Geraldine Brooks) from being seduced by a shady deep-sea diver (Rossano Brazzi). Helmed by German emigré Hollywood director William Dieterle, Volcano is a delirious blend of neorealist tropes—a gritty working-class milieu, sunlit location shooting, docu-realist fishing scenes—and juicy melodrama involving sunken treasure, sex trafficking, murder, and that volcano just waiting to erupt. 35mm print from Istituto Luce Cinecittà.

  • Directed By William Dieterl
  • 1950
  • Italy
  • Italian with English subtitles
  • 35mm
  • 106 minutes