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Cinema Sirens Collection

Koch Vision
1950 / B&W / 1:37 flat full frame / 74 90 min. / Street Date August 10, 2004 / 9.98
Starring Gina Lollobrigida, Amedeo Nazzari, Doris Dowling, Otello Toso
Cinematography Tonino Delli Colli
Original Music Franco Casavola
Directed by Giorgio Pastina

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

This budget-level release of a scarce early-career Gina Lollobrigida film is a poor transfer of a cut and English-dubbed print of the movie, or, more likely, a VHS or 3/4 video transfer of a battered duplicate of the movie. As the film isn't available in a better version, it's still a chance to see the Italian actress before she became a top international sex symbol of the fifties.


The Italo-French mountain border harbors poor Italian smugglers who use the French casino of Lucien (Juan de Landa) as a rendezvous point. Lucien has overextended himself and pushes the smugglers to take greater risks, including Marco (Otello Toso), who lusts after his helper Alina (Gina Lollobrigida). She's only in the trade to help her sick huband (Lauro Gazzo), and resents Marco's attentions. At the casino, Alina is treated well by Lucien's manager Giovanni (Amadeo Nazzari), an expatriate who'd like to return to his beloved Italy. Giovanni is caught in an unfortunate romantic bind of his own, with Marie (Doris Dowling), Lucien's embittered wife and the casino's singer.

Well, the story certainly can't be called pretentious. Alina's tale of the poor innocent child-bride who is taken advantage of while trying to help her poor husband is pure melodrama, complete with noble heroes, scheming villains and a fateful escape across snowy mountains. The nylons and cigarettes are an excuse to allow the overeager Marco to manhandle helpless Alina and rough up her sickly old husband. The husband is the caretaker, old-family-friend kind that has possibly never slept with our heroine. She in turn is charmed by the honest Giovanni, who pines for home as any good Italian boy should, even though home is a stone's throw away across a hillside.

Amadeo Nazzari is the soul of the Italian matinee idol, and familiar to us from Fellini's Nights of Cabiria where he basically plays himself, a bored matinee idol. He's also been in Edgar Ulmer's Journey Beneath the Desert and Henri Verneuil's The Sicilian Clan.

Gina Lollobrigida's sexy image must have come after this film, as here she plays a completely virtuous city girl persecuted by her townspeople when they suspect her of abandoning her husband. It's actually Lollobrigida's twelfth film. She does get to wear one ballroom gown for a short scene in which two French lotharios (dubbed to sound like Heckle & Jekyll) urge her to drink more champagne. Gina has compelling eyes but the poor dubbing does her no favors. It may be the contrasty nature of this copy of the film, but in many scenes she resembles Susan Hayward, looking smaller than she does in her later va-voom years.

The only other actor standing out is Doris Dowling, the sister of Constance Dowling (of Black Angel and GOG). Both went to Italy to work in the late 40s. Doris had been singled out for a prominent role in The Lost Weekend and made an equally strong impression alongside Silvana Mangano in her star-making vehicle, Bitter Rice. She also was Bianca for Orson Welles in his Othello before returning to the states. Dowling's Marie is convincingly jealous of Alina, and spitefully brings the police down on the casino.

The IMDB might be wrong, but as much as sixteen minutes could be missing from this print. That might explain why we never find out what happens to Doris Dowling after her husband Juan de Landa catches her calling the cops. What else is missing isn't clear, but with the respectful modesty shown the Alina character we can feel sure that there aren't missing sex scenes or anything racier than the one moment where Giovanni douses Alina with a pitcher of water.

Koch Vision's DVD of Alina is of 'research' quality, by which I mean it's something to see when nothing else is available. The quality is poor VHS, and there are even a few tape rolls here and there. There is no cameraman in the truncated English credits, but the IMDB ID's him as the famous Tonino Delli Colli, later the master of the Leone spaghetti westerns. You'd never know from the quality of this print.

The sound is murky but the dubbed dialogue is clear even if it rarely fits the mouths of the actors. The score is so overemphatic, it might have been part of a whole new cheapo soundtrack done for the film's American release, if it ever got one.

There are no extras. The handsome artwork on the box uses mostly later oo-la-la views of Ms. Lollapalooza in a slip, next to more restrained frame blowups from the film itself.

On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, Alina rates:
Movie: Good ?
Video: Poor
Sound: Fair
Supplements: none
Packaging: Keep case
Reviewed: August 3, 2004

DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson

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