IL GRIDO (The Cry) directed by Michelangelo Antonioni (Italy, 1957)

ilgridoIn real life, Steve Cochran was a notorious womanizer. Joan Crawford, Mae West and Jayne Mansfield were among his impressive list of conquests. His rough and ready good looks make him look like a younger Mel Gibson, the type of strong silent hunk that makes women who should know better swoon.

Steven Patrick Morrissey was apparently named this actor who was best known for supporting roles as gangsters or boxers and for appearances in a string of B-Movies.

In Il Grido (The Cry), Antononioni uses Cochran’s chick magnet potential with a degree of irony by casting him as a one woman man named Aldo.

Steve Cochran

Steve Cochran – chick magnet

The problem is that Aldo’s mistress, Irma, has found another lover. She breaks this news to him after hearing that her long estranged husband has died. Aldo thinks that this is his cue to make an honest woman of her and for them to become legitimate parents to their six-year-old daughter Rosina (Mima Girardi).

We never get to see the other man but Irma, played by Alida (‘I was in The Third Man’) Valli is adamant that the relationship with Aldo is history. He does what any unreconstructed man would do in the circumstances and gives her a good public slapping which, needless to say, fails to bring about a reconciliation.

Forlornly he takes to the road with his daughter in tow with a vague plan of seeking work elsewhere. As an experienced mechanic he shouldn’t have any difficulty finding gainful employment but his mind isn’t on the task.

His taciturn moodiness adds to his pulling power and a series of lonely and shapely woman throw themselves at him. None succeeds in shaking him from his self-pitying melancholy.

The movie plays out like a John Steinbeck novel, a lonely drifter seeking warmth and shelter, frustrated females looking for an escape from their dead-end lives.

It’s not a spoiler to say that there is no happy ending here. Giovanni Fusco’s vivid cinematography captures the beautifully bleak, misty landscapes of the Po Valley; the emptiness and desolate qualities of the setting mirrors the reduced state of the protagonists and prepares us for the tragic finale.

It’s a stylised and stylish movie that’s well worth seeing as the precursor to Antonioni’s  international breakthrough with L’avventura three years later.