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The Rose Tattoo (1955)

The Rose Tattoo. Feature film. (1955, 117 mins) IMDB

...roses, roses and more roses...

N

ot a lot happens in this film and a great deal happens. I say not a lot because the film can be summarized with a few points.

Serafine Delle Rose lives in a house somewhere in the south with her husband and teenaged daughter. She's from Sicily and behaves and talks as we've come to expect from an Italian. Loud and passionate. Never holding back.

She reveres her husband whom she calls the rose. His hair smells of roses from the rose oil and he has a rose tattoo on his chest. We never meet him. He was a Baron in Italy (or so we're told) but in the US he drives a truck. He seems to be involved in hauling something illegal and in the opening scenes dies when chased by police. His truck veers off the road and crashes.

The wife is distraught from the news. At this point the film flashes forward three years. Serafina has closeted herself in the house. She doesn't get dressed anymore. She's behind in her work--making dresses and shirts.

Her daughter, Rose, is about to graduate from high school. In a scene she meets a sailor. The mother tries to scare the sailor off, but he explains he's a virgin too and swears he won't touch her. We don't see a great deal of the young couple. The focus is on the mother. By the end of the film, the two plan to get married with the mother's blessing and run off.

In the opening scene, a woman leaves a tattoo shop where she got a rose tattoo on her chest. She goes to Serafina with silk cloth to have a shirt made for a man. Because of the accident, the silk shirt is never collected.

Enter Burt Lancaster at the 52nd minute. I was surprised he was so late coming into this film, but Serafina is the star of this film and she won an academy award for her performance.

Lancaster plays an Italian immigrant (his performance and accent wasn't believable at times). He drives a truck, is poor and falls in love with Serafina.

Part of the film is Serafina acting and behaving because of what the neighbours would think. She's always worried about it, acting on those thoughts. For example, it's late at night. Lancaster is visiting her house. She tells him to park his truck down the street and sneak into the house. She doesn't want the neighbours spreading rumours.

Back to the silk shirt. She gives it to Lancaster to wear and puts two and two together. Her husband was cheating on her. That's what she thinks and has to find out and does. When she does, her revered rose is a disgrace to her, but the film ends on an upbeat. She and Lancaster become a couple.

Posted 2009/04/19 at 21h07ET in Movie Commentary.

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