Pat submits that this week’s film is actually a horror movie, judging by the title and the professional child actor who stars. Vittorio De Sica’s The Children are Watching Us is a cautionary tale about our influence on future generations, and about the moral failings of fascism and the moderatism that enables it. Also, divorce and suicide.
David O. Selznick is an interesting figure in the Criterion cannon, having produced a large number of films from a swath of wonderful directors. With one glaring exception we've barely liked or strongly disliked his other projects. Terminal Station, his 1953 collaboration with Italian neorealist Vittorio De Sica, takes that ambivalence and splits it in two, which is appropriate: we get one movie to love and one to hate.
Selznick so hated what De Sica brought him that he recut the film himself, shaving 25 minutes out and gutting it of it's emotional arc. The resulting film, Indiscretion of an American Wife, is also included on this Criterion release, so we talk both this week.
We've already talked a bit about Italian neorealism, albeit through a filmmaker who was trying to reject the movement some years after it had died. Now we get to see the film that, arguably, killed it. Vittorio De Sica is hardly a stranger to the movement -- his Bicycle Thieves, which we'll talk about in the future, is one of its masterpieces -- but that didn't stop critics from piling on the hate for Umberto D. in 1952. Unfairly, I may add, as it's a great movie. Alas.