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January 05, 1988|MICHAEL WILMINGTON | Terry Atkinson

"Two Women." Nelson/Embassy. $29.95. Vittorio De Sica and Cesare Zavattini--one of the cinema's great writer-director combinations--adapted Alberto Moravia's novel of the World War II privations of a Roman shopkeeper and her daughter in 1961. Despite Sophia Loren's Best Actress Oscar as the mother, De Sica was widely considered past his peak. His brand of transparent staging and sentimental realism was not au courant in the early '60s; neither was Zavattini's nonviolent, left-wing humanism. Yet this film is near the level of their greatest work--"The Bicycle Thief" and "Umberto D." A movie protest against wartime civilian misery and injustice, its style is seamless and its heart beats with quiet outrage. Information: (213) 285-6000. *** 1/2

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