‘Wild is the Wind’ was an unexpected delight for me. I really wasn’t sure what I was going to get. I’m not entirely familiar with Anna Magnani as an actress, and while I have really liked Anthony Quinn I never truly got into his work. That, and the fact that this is somewhat of a Western had me standoffish to say the least, but I wanted to see it for the mere fact that both Magnani and Quinn were up for Oscars in 1957, and their performances have been raved on every film site I frequent.
I love this movie.
Powerful in its sheer subtlety, ‘Wild is the Wind’ tells the story about the conflicting worlds of two people drawn together by tragedy and convenience and the inability to compromise. Gino is a widower who is still grieving the loss of his wife. In an attempt to find a slice of normalcy and just move forward with his life, he marries his late wife’s sister, Giola. Giola is a very spirited woman who just wants to find someone who loves her deeply, but her persona is sharply contrasted by that of Gino, who is controlling and regimented and rough around his edges. They clash, routinely, and their relationship begins to spiral further out as Giola catches the eye of Gino’s ranch hand Bene. Bene happens to be very close to Gino and is assumed to marry Gino’s daughter Angie one day, but Bene has fallen in love with Giola and Giola with him.
With depth and restraint, Cukor directs this beautiful story with so much heart and authenticity. The intricacies of marriage are given a sharp underlining as Cukor uncovers so many details that make this story in particular so engaging. These two people are so different in their approach to life and love that they can’t help but butt-heads but as Giola notes herself, the intentions are good. They just don’t understand one another, and sadly they are unwilling to meet each other half way. I particularly loved the film’s conclusion because, for me, it highlighted the beauty of love and companionship by allowing these two opposites to grasp the culpability that they themselves must account for, without devastating the core of the film in the process.
The performances by Magnani and Quinn are epic in themselves and really convey so much inner emotion and prove to be highlights of acting. Magnani in particular is outstanding, and the complexity she brings to her character’s emotional troubles is sensational. Quinn dwells in his character with such bridled intensity and then explodes in his confrontation scene with dynamic energy.
For me, this is one of the best films of 1957, the same year that sported some true stunners. It is an unexpected triumph, one that many may pass over with a mere shrug, but it should be seen. Sadly, it’s a hard film to get a hold of, but if you can snatch it up then I urge you to do so!