Blu-ray Review: Indiscretion of an American Wife

STUDIO: Kino Lorber | DIRECTOR: Vittorio de Sica | CAST: Montgomery Clift, Jennifer Jones, Richard Beymer, Gino Cervi
RELEASE DATE: March 30, 2020 | PRICE: DVD $14.99, Blu-ray $19.99
BONUSES: eight-minute prologue, 2K restoration of the original longer version
SPECS: NR | 63 min. | Drama romance | 1.37:1 widescreen | stereo | English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall 

As can frequently be the case with many cinematic misfires, the story behind Vittorio De Sica’s (Bicycle Thieves) 1953 romantic melodrama Indiscretion of an American Wife is more intriguing than the film itself.

The romantic drama about an American housewife (Jennifer Jones, Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing) vacationing in Italy who decides to ends her affair with an Italian academic (Montgomery Clift, Red River) in Rome’s Stazione Termini, the international co-production between De Sica and producer David O. Selznick (who commissioned the film as a vehicle for his wife Jones) was reported troubled frmo the very beginning

A number of notable writers hired to write the script were fired during the process including Carson McCullers, Alberto Moravia, Paul Gallico and Truman Capote (who ultimately received the screen credit). Selznick would send lengthy daily letters to De Sica every day of the production, which took place on location at the large Roman station. De Sica, who apparently didn’t read English, apparently agreed to everything Selznick said, but then did things his own way. The stars were reportedly unhappy as well.

The original release of the film ran 89 minutes and retained its original title, Terminal Station. After disappointing previews, Selznick re-edited it down to a lean 64 minutes and changed the title to Indiscretion of an American Wife without De Sica’s permission. Neither the critics or the movie-going public much enjoyed either version.

Kino Lorber’s Special Edition includes shimmering restored editions of both versions of the film, with the American one fleshed out with an eight-minute prologue of Patti Page singing “Autumn in Rome” and “Indiscretion” in a travelogue-ish bit photographed by the great James Wong Howe (Sweet Smell of Success).

The performances are good; the film is dull. But G.R. Aldo’s cinematography is solid, the Stazione Termini is sprawling and young Richard Beymer (West Side Story) is adorable as Jones’ nephew.

Buy or Rent Indiscretion of an American Wife
on DVD | Blu-ray

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.