Desire under the Elms
by Delbert Mann


USA (New York City, Sutton & Odeon Theaters) - March 12, 1958 - Desire under the Elms - 114'
France (Cannes) - May 5, 1958 - Désir sous les ormes -
West Germany - October 31, 1958 - Begierde unter Ulmen - 112'
Italy - 1959 - Desiderio sotto gli olmi -
Belgium - Désir sous les ormes / Liefde onder de olmen -
Spain - 1959 - Deseo bajo los olmos - 111'
(attendance: 157.184)

German poster Belgian poster American poster American DVD


Eben, the younger son of a wealthy, elderly New England farmer, aspires to his father’s huge estate. He contrives to have his two stepbrothers leave home to seek their fortune after renouncing their share of the inheritance. But the father, Ephraim Cabot, returns home with a third wife, Anna, a young woman of Italian origins who has married him to escape poverty. A strong attraction immediately develops between Eben and Anna, but greed keeps them apart since both of them have aspirations toward the old man’s entire estate. If only to succeed in her plan, Anna gives the old man the son he wants, but does not hesitate to sacrifice the child when Eben has suspicions about her. He denounces her, but then follows her to share her destiny because he too feels guilty. Old Ephraim remains alone. (Enrico Lancia)
Story: from the drama of the same name by Eugene O’Neill


Paramount Studios, Hollywood, CA

Filming dates: April - June 1957

Sophia arrives in Los Angeles from Italy on April 8 for the shooting
of her first American film in Hollywood.


Sophia Loren (Anna Cabot)
Anthony Perkins (Eben),
Burl lves (Ephraim Cabot)


Photography (VistaVision):
Daniel Fapp
Elmer Bernstein
Sophia's Makeup Artist:
Wally Westmore
Sophia's Hairstylist:
Nellie Manley
Don Hartman for


The film is a critical and financial disappointment.

The film is presented at the Cannes Film Festival but Sophia leaves the Croisette a few hours before the official viewing.

Sophia and Carlo fly to Switzerland after the film is completed in July and stay at a Burgenstock chalet for a ten days.

With a record of three completed Hollywood films, all filmed abroad and not yet released, Sophia has Tony Perkins as her co-star in a movie based on a Eugene O'Neill drama.

Sophia's voice is dubbed by Mario Degler (German)

The baby Sophia Loren holds in the film is in fact four babies. The California law allows a baby to be photographed for 20 minutes only.


"A strong performance in the role of the crafty and passion-charged woman who makes for trouble down on the farm. Even though she is shown as Italian and not the New Englander of the play, she is plausibly in the spirit of the tempestuous drama that unfolds. She is initially the spitfire who can tempt the wild young man with cogent wiles. Then she dissolves into a woman who is raptly and recklessly in love."
Bosley Crowther, New York Times

" The best work is done by Sophia Loren... breath-stoppingly beautiful, is quite convincing as a woman  who has been used harshly by men and who needs to be revenged on the world through this marriage and who is confounded by falling in love."
Stanley Kaufman, The New Republic

"Desire under the Elms is visually notable for what seems to be the first zealous application of body makeup since Sophia's performance as
an African in Aïda (1953). In the film, Sophia sports a heavy tan, intended to suggest outdoor labor, wildness, and Mediterranean exoticism;
it is a look that works with the part.
Deirdre Donohue, Sophia Style

"She's rare - she absorbs knowledge as a tree absorbs the sun and the rain."
Don Hartman

"I knew she was sexy. I knew she was exciting. Now I know something else. The girl is an actress."
Delbert Mann

"Mann and Shaw abandon almost completely the intricate interplay between the Perkins and Ives characters, centering attention on Loren in her American film debut, which was a disaster. She was wholly unsuitable for her role, which she undoubtedly received because of the constant pressure by Italian producer Carlo Ponti, her husband."
TV Guide

Copyrights for all photos belong to their respective owners.
© Excelsior Communication - 2007

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