This Angry Age


1h 51m 1958

Film Details

Also Known As
La diga sul Pacifico, The Sea Wall, This Bitter Earth
Release Date
May 1958
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 14 May 1958
Production Company
Films Dino de Laurentiis
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
Italy and United States
Location
Bangkok,Thailand; Cinecittà, Rome, Italy; Perschburi,Thailand; Perschburi,Thailand; Petchburi,Thailand; Rome,Italy; Rome, Italy
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Un Barrage contre le Pacifique by Marguerite Duras (published by Librairie Gallimard, Paris, 1950).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 51m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
9,234ft (12 reels)

Synopsis

In a coastal region of French Indochina, Madame Dufresne, a widowed, former piano teacher, has transformed large areas of marshy swampland, which she was tricked into buying when she left France, into five hundred acres of highly productive rice fields. As the land is below sea level, it was necessary to build a tall dike, made from palm logs and dirt, to prevent the fields from being inundated. The strong-willed Mme. Dufresne accomplished this with the help of her son Joseph, his younger sister Suzanne and several native families. Joseph, however, is sick of working in the fields and wants to leave for a big city, so begs his possessive mother to accept the offer of Albert Legros, the son of a rich importer-exporter, to buy the plantation for $15,000. Although Albert points out the ramshackle nature of the dike could render the land instantly worthless, Mme. Dufresne regards Albert's offer as an insult and refuses to sell, stating that she is holding onto the land for her children and for the natives who have helped her farm it. She also warns Joseph that if he leaves them, she will lay down and die. Later that night, after Mme. Dufresne has slapped Suzanne for complaining about their living conditions and Joseph has packed up and driven away in their ancient car, a typhoon strikes the area, virtually destroying the dike and severely damaging the house. When the only road becomes impassable, Joseph, accompanied by a stranger, Michael Forestier, whom he has encountered trapped in a bus, returns to rescue his mother and sister. At daybreak, as the native families abandon the plantation, the Dufresnes survey the damage. Michael, who has been sent by the government to estimate the land's value so that the family can be evicted in favor of Albert, is impressed by the family's tenacity and recommends that the dike be rebuilt with concrete. After a brief romantic interlude with Suzanne, which Joseph observes, Michael leaves. Later, the Dufresnes meet Albert at a beach bar and attempt to borrow money from him to rebuild the dike. Albert, who lusts after Suzanne, says that he will try to help and becomes a regular visitor. Suzanne's mother, eager to secure the loan, does not discourage Albert's interest in Suzanne, although he has told Suzanne that he is not interested in marriage and is more interested in "seeing her naked in the shower." One day, Albert arrives with two rings, which he says belonged to his mother, and offers Suzanne one if she will spend three chaste days with him in the city. After Albert receives a phone call from his father ordering him to close the deal for the plantation, he explains to Mme. Dufresne, who is hoping for a loan of one or two thousand dollars, that he can offer three thousand. She is outraged, however, when she learns that Albert intends the amount as the purchase price for the land, and throws him out. When Suzanne offers Albert's ring to her mother, Mme. Dufresne slaps her, although Suzanne swears she has not been intimate with him. Upset by the altercation between his mother and sister, Joseph leaves for the city to look for work. One day, in a movie theater, Claude, a rich, older European woman, is attracted to Joseph and invites him to join her and her companion, Roland, for a drink. Soon, Joseph is living with, and being kept by, Claude. When Suzanne and her mother come to the city to sell the ring to raise money, they try to find Joseph. Upon discovering that the ring is worthless, Suzanne locates Albert, and after she offers to spend three days alone with him for one thousand dollars, they arrange a meeting. Suzanne also visits Michael's house and finds him about to leave for a construction job in Portugal. Michael confides to Suzanne that he was a Merchant Marine officer who lost his license after he was elected to take the blame for an accident in which many lives were lost. Although Suzanne and Michael profess love for each other, their relationship appears doomed when he states that he does not want to marry her and sends her away. After Joseph and Suzanne meet accidentally, he introduces her to Claude and Suzanne asks him to go home with her as their mother has been ill. Suzanne then returns to Michael and asks him to spend one day with her. As they tour the city, they embrace frequently, but after Michael falls asleep in a sampan, Suzanne leaves to keep her rendezvous with Albert. In a hotel room, Albert offers Suzanne dinner on the balcony then kisses her, but she does not respond. Albert then tells her that, when he informed his father that he wanted to marry her, his father threatened to disown him. Suzanne, who has never had any interest in marrying Albert, is surprised when he breaks down and confesses that no one has ever loved him and he feels he has done nothing good in his life, then apologizes to her for his behavior toward her. Suzanne agrees to stay for dinner and, when she leaves, rejects the thousand dollars, but Albert insists that she take it. When Suzanne gives the cash to her sick mother, she accepts it reluctantly, suspecting that Suzanne has sold herself. Claude, meanwhile, informs Joseph that their fling is over as Roland has invited her to join him in Hong Kong. After Suzanne and her mother return to the plantation, Mme. Dufresne goes to sleep in Joseph's bed. The next morning, when Suzanne is awakened by the sound of trucks, delivering cement her mother has bought with the money, she goes to tell her mother and finds her near death. Suzanne sends a servant to summon a doctor and Joseph, but her mother dies before they can arrive, professing that she had always done the best she could for her children. Joseph and Michael, who has rejected the job in Portugal, return for the funeral. Joseph, now grieving for his mother, decides to stay and supervise the construction of the new dike. He then watches as Suzanne and Michael leave on a bus to begin a new life together.

Film Details

Also Known As
La diga sul Pacifico, The Sea Wall, This Bitter Earth
Release Date
May 1958
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 14 May 1958
Production Company
Films Dino de Laurentiis
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
Italy and United States
Location
Bangkok,Thailand; Cinecittà, Rome, Italy; Perschburi,Thailand; Perschburi,Thailand; Petchburi,Thailand; Rome,Italy; Rome, Italy
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Un Barrage contre le Pacifique by Marguerite Duras (published by Librairie Gallimard, Paris, 1950).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 51m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
9,234ft (12 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

This film's working title was The Sea Wall, its release title in Britain. The film was distributed in Britain by the Rank Organisation, which also handled its release in Italy, where it was titled La diga sul Pacifico. The U.S. version credited only Irwin Shaw and René Clément with the screenplay, but credits for the version released in Britain added Diego Fabbri and Ivo Perilli. Only Clément, Fabbri and Perilli were credited on Italian prints. Columbia originally intended to release the film in the U.S. as This Bitter Earth. Although the Variety review of This Angry Age gave a running time of 111 minutes, the print viewed ran 103 minutes, the time listed in the film's pressbook and very close to the running time of the version released in Britain.
       The opening credits end with the following statement: "We wish to thank the Thai Government for all the assistance received whilst shooting in Thailand." Because of this title card, several reviewers erroneously assumed that the film was set there. A very brief opening narration spoken by Silvana Mangano, as "Suzanne," places the story "in the Orient." The Marguerite Duras novel on which the film was based is set in French Indochina.
       A contemporary Italian book about the making of the film reveals that producer Dino De Laurentiis, who was Mangano's husband at the time, entered into a co-production arrangement with Columbia Pictures whereby Columbia would have distribution rights for all of the world, except for Britain and Italy. Hollywood Reporter news items of 6 August and September 6, 1956 confirm the co-production deal and state that De Laurentiis had cast Anthony Perkins, as a substitute for the late James Dean, Anna Magnani to play his mother and that the film would be made in Indochina. According to the Italian book, De Laurentiis had wanted Peter Ustinov for the role of "Albert," but Ustinov was unavailable due to a theatrical commitment.
       Subsequent Hollywood Reporter news items of November 6, 1956 and December 6, 1956 reported that the film would be shot in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Saigon respectively. Ultimately, all of the film's exteriors were filmed in Petchburi and Bangkok, Thailand while the interiors were shot at Cinecittà Studios in Rome, Italy.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1957

Technirama

Released in United States 1957