Convincingly aging from teenager to matron, Sophia Loren delivers a tour de force performance that earned her an Oscar nomination for this Italian dramedy. As Filumena, a teenaged whore who becomes businessman Marcello Mastroianni’s kept woman for 17 years, only to face losing him to a younger woman, Loren makes the transition from childlike innocence to fiery resentment to maternal love against the backdrop of Italy’s turbulent post-war era. Director Vittorio De Sica had demonstrated Loren’s comic gifts in The Gold of Naples (1954), helped her win a Best Actress Oscar for Two Women (1960) and teamed her with Mastroianni, her most simpatico co-star, for the Oscar-winning Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1963) and this picture. Here, he films her against a near-documentary view of Naples while also showcasing her performance like a jewel in a precious setting. Eduardo De Filippo’s play Filumena Marturano had proven a star-making vehicle for Italian actresses since its premiere in 1946. Years later, it would provide opportunities for two great British actresses, Joan Plowright and Judi Dench. With this film, however, Loren and Mastroianni made the story all their own.

(d. Vittorio De Sica, 102m, Digital) 

In attendance: Sophia Loren