Anna Magnani, Ettore Garofolo, Franco Citti, Silvana Corsini,
Mamma Roma captures the dispirited world of a spirited prostitute and her efforts to rise above her trade toward a petit bourgeois life for herself and her grown son. In stone ruins and suburban housing projects, Pier Paolo Pasolini finds a combination of the seamy and the lyric, the ugly and the classical. Pasolini, who rarely used professional actors, questioned using Magnani. Nevertheless, as Mamma Roma walks the streets giving young johns what they want—her stories; gives her pimp ex-husband his due in ribald song; or dances a tango with her soon-to-be martyred son, it’s hard to picture anyone but Magnani in the role.