Adua e le compagne (Adua and Her Friends). 1960. Italy. Directed by Antonio Pietrangeli. In Italian; English subtitles. 106 min.
Screenplay by Antonio Pietrangeli, Ruggero Maccari, Tullio Pinelli, Ettore Scola. With Simone Signoret, Sandra Milo, Emmanuelle Riva, Marcello Mastroianni. Reluctantly liberated when a reform movement closes the legal brothels of Italy in 1958, four Roman prostitutes (Simone Signoret, Sandra Milo, Emmanuelle Riva, and Gina Rovere) are forced to take their work underground, opening a restaurant on the outskirts of the city that will, under the orders of their shady sponsor (Claudia Gora) serve as a front while they practice their former profession in the rooms upstairs. But the restaurant proves to be a success, and the women find new loves and new happiness—until the sponsor decides that respectability isn’t profitable enough. A touching portrait of female friendship and a cutting indictment of social hypocrisy.