To cut or not to cut, that is the question – a direct comparison of two editors

by planetmitchLeave a Comment

I don't always follow everything everyone says to me on twitter, but this one caught my eye from my friend Jem Schofield:


What is neorealism?

That tweet lead me to watch the short and to do some investigation because without knowing the background, I was frankly a bit lost. I wasn't quite sure why there appeared to be two movies with the same scenes. And in reality, I didn't want to delve into what is ‘neorealism' – I was intrigued simply by the side by side edits.

As it turns out, there are essentially two versions of the same film! So we get to see what different people did with the same source materials. This was extremely fascinating once I realized what was going on.

In reading an account of this situation, we get more details

Vittorio De Sica was one of the world’s most celebrated filmmakers when, in 1952, David O. Selznick commissioned Terminal Station (Stazione Termini, 1954) from him and his screenwriting partner, Cesare Zavattini. The film would be a gallant experiment in combining Italy’s internationally celebrated neorealist movement, which De Sica and Zavattini had helped to invent with The Children Are Watching Us (I Bambini ci guardano, 1944), Shoeshine (Sciuscià, 1946), and The Bicycle Thief (Ladri di biciclette, 1948), with the glamorous presence of two Hollywood stars, Jennifer Jones and Montgomery Clift.

Selznick, his Hollywood career essentially over, was deeply into his period of European exile. Though The Third Man (1949) had been a critical and commercial success, his next European production, Gone to Earth (1950), had been marked by constant quarrelling with director Michael Powell and cowriter Emeric Pressburger, and Selznick eventually took over the film himself, creating a drastically reedited and reshot (by Rouben Mamoulian) version titled The Wild Heart for the American market. Selznick battled with De Sica as well, both on the set and after De Sica had delivered his 89-minute cut. Selznick went back to the editing room, and with the help of the editor Jean Barker and writer Ben Hecht produced his own version of the film, luridly retitled Indiscretion of an American Wife and reduced to 64 minutes.

Happily, both versions of the film survive

What is neorealism?

Like I said, I'm not so interested in neorealism, but this is the short comparing the two films side by side and showing the differences in the cuts.

What do you think?

Now that you've seen the short, what did you think? Were you as intrigued as I? Are you about to go off and learn more about Neorealism? What about the two directors Vittorio De Sica and David O. Selznick? People you know?

I've been aware of David O. Selznick for quite a while, but I'm not sure I've ever heard of De Sica. But I'm going to have to find out more about him as I feel I much prefer his style over Selznick's.

Isn't it fun learning about movies? This is the first time I've ever seen a side by side comparison like this and it has me quite fascinated to learn more.

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)


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