Considered by many the first neorealist masterpiece, Visconti’s bombshell debut is a sexy, sweaty adaptation of James M. Cain’s novel The Postman Always Rings Twice. The chiseled Massimo Girotti is the penniless drifter who breezes into unhappily married Clara Calamai’s whistle-stop roadhouse, setting the stage for a torrid saga of lust, murder, and betrayal. In blending the sordid source material with an earthy evocation of underclass life, Visconti incurred the wrath of the Fascist censors, who promptly suppressed the film. Among their objections was the homoerotic charge supplied by a character not in Cain’s novel: a gay, communist artist, whom one is tempted to read as a stand-in for the queer, Marxist Visconti. Restored by Istituto Luce Cinecittà, CSC-Cineteca Nazionale and VIGGO.
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