Normally, an actor or actress in a foreign-language film was not the ideal candidate for an Academy Award, inasmuch as his or her English-language performance was often dubbed in by an anonymous third party. Such was not the case of Sophia Loren in Two Women (La Ciociara), who did her own English dubbing. Adapted by director Vittorio De Sica and Cesare Zavattini from the novel by Alberto Moravia, Two Women is the semi-neorealist account of widow Cesira (Loren) and her teenaged daughter, Rosetta (Eleanora Brown), as they struggle to survive in war-ravaged Italy. A conventional romantic triangle between mother, daughter, and Michele (Jean-Paul Belmondo), is barely under way when the war rears its ugly head once more. Seeking shelter in a bombed-out church, Cesira and Rosetta are attacked and raped -- a horrifying sequence, capped by a freeze-frame close-up of Rosetta, her face a taut mask of terror (this image was enough to prompt a virulent anti-smut editorial in The Saturday Evening Post). Once they've recovered from this appalling experience, mother and daughter are offered a ride back to Rome by friendly truck driver Florindo (Renato Salvatori). Though Cesira had hoped to keep her daughter from compromising herself as a means of survival, she is crushed to discover that Rosetta has given herself to the truck driver in exchange for a pair of stockings. When Cesira and Rosetta finally reconcile, it is a grievous occasion, mourning the death of their mutual love, Michele. A last-minute replacement for Anna Magnani, Sophia Loren brought hitherto untapped depths of emotion to her performance in Two Women; she later stated that she was utilizing sensory recall, dredging up memories of her own wartime experiences.~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
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