Serafina (Magnani), an Italian-born widow living in the American South, is stung by revelations surrounding her husband's death. She maintains what's left of her family's dignity by drawing a tight circle around herself and her budding daughter. The arrival of a new suitor, the sweet, simple truck driver Alvaro (Lancaster) — a man who resembles her late spouse — begins a process whereby Serafina opens herself to life once again.
Magnani was already an international star when lured to Hollywood to do this sterling adaptation of Tennessee Williams's play. The earthy, fiery Italian actress inhabits the central role of Serafina like a second skin. Magnani's powerfully expressive face betrays the conflicting emotions of a proud but wounded woman facing the prospect — and attendant risks — of new love. Though Lancaster is miscast as Alvaro, he wins points for spirit and effort.