Often considered one of the first examples of Italian neorealism, Luchino Visconti's first film was this adaptation of James M. Cain's steamy novel The Postman Always Rings Twice, which would also be made twice in the U.S., first in 1946 with Lana Turner and John Garfield and then in 1981 with Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange.
Massimo Girotti stars as a drifter named Gino, who gets a job at a provincial inn. The handsome wanderer attempts to resist the advances of Giovanna (Clara Calamai), the estranged wife of nasty innkeeper Bragana (Juan de Landa), but he eventually gives in.
Gino then allows her to talk him into killing Bragana to get the insurance money, with predictable results.
Although the melodramatic story is a far cry from the post-war social statements of such later neorealist classics as Roberto Rossellini's Rome, Open City (1945) and Vittorio De Sica's Bicycle Thieves (1948), the movie began to feature some of neorealism's defining characteristics: above all, an emphasis on outdoor shooting and natural light and a relentless focus on the lives of the poor.
Ossessione caused a sensation not just because of its lurid subject matter but also because Visconti's realist style makes you practically feel the heat and dirt and sweat of the film's environment.