23 August 2020 | TheLittleSongbird
My main reasons for seeing 'Teresa' were for Fred Zinnemann and the subject. Zinnemann made a number of great films, 'High Noon', 'The Day of the Jackal', 'A Man for All Seasons' and 'From Here to Eternity' and was a fine director. The subject was a bold one at the time and the studio could never be commended enough for tackling difficult contemporary issues for the time (some still relevant now) and mostly handling them uncompromisingly. The mixed reviews weren't enough to deter me.
On the most part, to me 'Teresa' was a very sincere and brave effort. A well done film with a lot of merits, the best of them quite brilliantly executed. It is not great and has a few big drawbacks, and as far as Zinnemann's films go it towards the lesser end. That 'Teresa' did so courageously in tackling a subject as tough as this and generally not doing too bad a job with it is to be applauded in my view, even if it doesn't completely succeed (which was a bit of a shame).
'Teresa's' biggest issue is John Ericson, who did not have an easy role admittedly but was clearly over-parted by it. He didn't have the charisma, intensity or pathos for the role and often seemed unsure of how to play the character or what to do with him. The whole character came over as muddled, with such all over the place motivations and such it was very difficult to feel anything for him.
Do agree too with those that have said that the ending was very abrupt and too mawkish, which did feel at odds with the tone of the rest of the film. The script is not always very focused and could have gone into more depth in places.
Generally though, that it pulled no punches, was intelligently written and was written with honesty and respect was much appreciated. The story, regardless of any slightness, mostly does very well executing such a bold subject, and does so so sincerely and so movingly. It had hard-hitting tension and also poignant pathos, nothing is sugar-coated here. Zinnemann's direction is understated which did suit the film and to me it didn't go overboard on that and he didn't seem disinterested or uncomfortable with the material.
Visually, 'Teresa' is very well made with an effective documentary-like approach to the filming. The locations are nice too. The score is moody without being intrusive. The supporting cast are very good, with two of the most interesting characters being those for Ralph Meeker and Patricia Collinge. Rod Steiger is also very good in a very early role and one of his more subdued ones. Best of all is a truly touching Pier Angeli, whose performance and presence is always genuine with nothing ringing false.
All in all, a lot to recommend but with a better male lead and ending 'Teresa' could have been a winner. 7/10