Anna Magnani stars as Mamma Roma, a rural Italian hooker trying to create a new life for herself. This proves impossible when the past keeps rearing its ugly head in the form of Mamma Rosa's previous johns. She returns to her old profession, whereupon her son Ettore Garofalo becomes a thief and is killed by the police.
Written and directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini (his second film), Mamma Roma is one of the least known but most approachable of the director's efforts. As in many of his earliest movies (and the novels which preceded them), Pasolini explores the limited lives and dashed hopes of the cafoni, the Italian equivalent of America's hillbillies.