Bitter Rice

1949 | Italian Neorealism | 108 minutes | Italian with English subtitles


The film begins during the start of the rice-planting season in the Po Valley in Italy. To escape the law, Francesca and Walter, two small-time thieves, hide in the field with the female workers. One of  the workers they meet is the shapely and beautiful Silvana. A conflict occurs as  Silvana is attracted to both Walter and Marco, a soon-to-be-discharged soldier. But Silvana is excited by the criminal lifestyle of Walter. Tragically, Silvana soon learns, she made the wrong decision.  

Silvana Mangano (Silvana) / Vittorio Gassman (Walter) / Doris Dowling (Francesca) / Raf Vallone (Marco)
Why Stream This Film?
The Venice Film Festival (in collaboration with Cinecitta) selected Bitter Rice as one of 100 Italian films to be saved, a collection of films that “changed the collective memory of the country between 1942 and 1978.”
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 100%
  • Academy Awards: Nominated, Best Screenplay (Giuseppe DeSantis, Carlo Lizzani)
  • Cannes Film Festival: Nominated, Grand Prize
  • The film received a perfect 100% Rotten Tomatoes score
A quintessential film of Italian neorealism of post World War II, although it became an international sensation due to the overt sex appeal of Silvana Mangano, then only 19.
Emanuel Levy

Director/writer De Santis is a man with a dynamic way and absolutely no inhibitions in picturing a literal scene. His candid and natural presentation of the robustness and earthiness of life in a camp full of migrant women workers is bulging with vitality and his episodes of violence and love-making are slices of life in the raw.
Bosley Crowther

The New York Times

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