Death of a Cyclist (1955) - full review!
aka Muerte de un ciclista (1955)
María José (Lucia Bosé, Miss Italy 1947) and Juan Fernandes Soler (Alberto Closas) are returning from their illicit affair, weekend in the country, in her car when she hits and injures the titled bicyclist on a desolate wet roadway. They stop and Juan is unsure whether the accident victim has been mortally wounded or can be saved (e.g. with proper medical attention), or not. María, the one who's cheating on her rich husband Miguel de Castro (Otello Toso), calls to Juan twice, the second time more sternly, urging him to leave the scene with her (turning their moral sin into a criminal one as well). Juan later reads an item in the newspaper titled "Death of a Cyclist" which confirms his worst fears.
The rest of the film is about the way in which María and Juan deal with their guilt. Their situation and anxiety is exacerbated by an art critic-pianist named Rafael "Rafa" Sandoval (Carlos Casaravilla), whose talents enable him to hobnob in high society, though he resents not being wealthy like everyone else. Rafa suspects that María and Juan, who were childhood sweethearts before the war, are having an affair. When he implies to María that he's aware of what's going on, and threatens her with blackmail, she's worried that Rafa also knows about the accidental death. Juan, who'd gotten his job as an adjunct professor thanks to his well connected brother at the university, has a complication of his own: distracted by the ordeal while on the job, he'd caused a student named Matilde Luque (Bruna Corrà) to fail her exam. This causes a riotous uprising of righteousness by her fellow students who contend that Juan is the beneficiary of nepotism.
The end of the film, which was directed and written by Juan Antonio Bardem (based on a story by Luis Fernando de Igoa) and won a prize at the Cannes Film Festival that year, has its own symmetry.
I didn't know what to expect before I watched this movie on TCM for the first time; I'm frequently disappointed by foreign films, especially those which have been recommended to me or earn high ratings from critics and IMDb.com voters alike. So I was pleasantly surprised when this one not only held my interest, but delivered a more than satisfactory experience with solid acting and a Hitchcock-like story. Plus, the subtitles are short, comprehensive and unobtrusive enough for one to easily read the dialog and understand what is being said without missing what is happening on the rest of the screen.