Phyllis Calvert plays Maddalena, a young woman who is attacked (and presumed raped) in the opening of the movie. This scars her for life, and, even though she ends up happily married, she develops a split personality as a way of dealing with her fears and trauma. When she's not shy and quiet Maddalena, happily married to wealthy Giuseppe with a very modern daughter, Angela, she runs off and becomes Rosanna, an aggressive and rather fearless peasant woman who has fallen in love with thief Nino (Stewart Granger). Whichever personality she is at the time, she has no memory of her other self. Both personalities are lost souls, though, and if there's one thing Phyllis Calvert is very good at playing, it's lost, doomed souls. She never does find peace from her personal demons, no matter how hard she hides from herself.
Like I said, serious subject, actually. The majority of the movie is about Giuseppe's attempt to understand what happened to his wife and why she does what she does, and Angela's (Maddalena's daughter) search to find her. She's helped by her very respectable boyfriend and his best friend, who is part of an absolutely adorable husband/wife team (I loved them!). They're contrasted by a very disreputable dancer/con artist and a jealous woman who wants Stewart Granger for herself and isn't happen when Rosanna returns. It's rather interesting that all the good guys are upper class, all the bad guys lower... deliberate? Or just because it's convenient to the plot? I have no idea.
The dancer/con artist is a scheming rat named Sandro (Peter Glenville), who is Nino's nasty younger brother. Nino may be a thief, but Sandro can't wait to get Angela alone so he can rape her, and he very nearly succeeds. He's quite slimy and thoroughly loathsome. I thought the parallel between the daughter and Maddalena's own violent past would come into play at some point, but oddly, it doesn't. The ending of the film struck me as not necessarily unsatisfactory, but more of just a "well, that's one way to get out of the situation" ending.
The movie was mostly entertaining, the cast worked well, the heavy melodrama suited their handling of the subject matter, and I think the only reason I wasn't more disturbed was because it was so melodramatic it was hard to take it quite seriously... even if it was serious. Which is all very confusing, I know. But then, I'm still rather confused about how I feel about it. It was definitely interesting, that's for sure.
And Stewart Granger was awfully good-looking in this movie. :-D