The plot of Indiscretion of an American Wife is told rather precisely in the title. It is an Italian-filmed feature, very consciously arty and foreign, but with the American star names of Jennifer Jones and Montgomery Clift.
The picture was directed by Vittorio De Sica from Cesare Zavattini’s story, Terminal Station. The lensing was done in its entirety in the Stazione Termini in Rome, where the story of an American housewife saying farewell to her holiday lover takes place.
US distribution rights to the picture, held by Selznick Releasing Organization, were turned over to Columbia and the footage edited down considerably from its foreign release length [87 minutes]. In fact the trimming was so drastic Columbia ordered a musical prolog from SRO to pad out the footage, so Indiscretion got an eight-minute hitchhiker riding along.
As typical of foreign film pretentions, much use is made of bits and types flowing through the busy railway terminal to color and add movement to the picture. Outside of the agonizing moments of farewells between Jones, Philadelphia housewife returning to her safe hearth, and her younger holiday lover, Clift, the story’s dramatic suspense pull is developed around the couple’s arrest after being discovered in an extremely compromising embrace in a secluded spot.
The stars give the drama a real pro try and the professional standards of delivery are high, even though the character interpretations will not be liked by all.
1954: Nomination: Best B&W Costume Design