Monday, July 4, 2011
Happy Birthday: Gina Lollobrigida! Sex symbol of the 1950s.
Gina Lollobrigida, born 4 July (1927), was one of the most popular European actresses of the 1950s and early 1960s. She started out modelling, and around this time, she also began performing in Italian films. In 1950, Howard Hughes wanted her to perform in Hollywood films, but she refused, wanting to stay in Europe. She then performed in the Italian films: Bread, Love and Dreams, Woman of Rome and French films: Fanfan la Tulipe, Beauties of the Night, which brought her to the attention of Hollywood where she made her first American film, Beat the Devil(1953) with Humphrey Bogart and Jennifer Jones directed by John Huston.
A movie about a group of international crooks, who find themselves stranded in Italy while their boat is being repaired. With them are the Dannreuthers. All are headed for Africa, to sell vacuum cleaners, but really planning on buying land supposedly sprinkled with uranium. It is amazing is how well she plays her part, considering that her English was limited.
Lollobrigida, made another well known performance in the circus drama, Trapeze(1956) directed by Carol Reed with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. The story begins when Mike Ribble, was once a great trapeze artist and the only person to have completed a triple somersault .. before his accident. Tino joins the circus, and Mike teaches him the 'triple somersault'. Lola, a tumbler, also wants to get in the act. This is maybe Lollobrigida's best dramatic role.
Next she went on to perform in the film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame(1956) with Anthony Quinn. The story begins in Paris, 1482, during the festival of the fools, taking place in the square outside Cathedral Notre Dame. Among the entertainers, is the gypsy Esmeralda, who performs a beautiful dance.
From up in a tower of the cathedral, Frollo, watches her. Later, Frollo orders Quasimodo, the deformed bell ringer, to kidnap Esmeralda. But.. he is touched by her beauty...The Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida, ones called "the Most Beautiful Woman in the World", plays the more mature and sensual Esmeralda, and she makes it very clear why half of Paris loves her.
Later, She co-starred with Frank Sinatra in the film, Never So Few (1959). The story begins when, Captain Tom Reynolds, and his men travel to Burma to train with the Kachin natives to learn modern warfare. But jungle combat, is harder than Reynolds had first thought, after Chinese rebels murder American soldiers, Reynolds wants revenge. Lollabrigida's, performance may have "bombed" in this war film. ;)
Also, she performed with Yul Brynner in the film, Solomon and Sheba. The story begins, before the death of King David, who has a vision which tells him that his younger son Solomon should become king. His other son Adonijah , also wants the throne. Egyptian Pharoah, agrees to give up a Red Sea port to the Queen of Sheba, she wants to find a way to get rid of Solomon, whose she sees as a threat. Sheba, Pharoah, Adonijah, the leaders of the Twelve Tribes and his own God make life difficult for Solomon who is tempted by Sheba to stray. Lollabrigida, may have delivered her lines perfectly, but there was really no chemistry between her and Brynner, so that the love scenes came across as a little dull.
In 1961 she made one of my favorite Lollobrigida films, Come September, with Rock Hudson, Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin. The story begins, when millionaire Robert Talbot, plans on spending September with his 1-month-a-year mistress, Lisa Fellini, at his villa in Portofino. This year he arrives unannounced in July, and finds that his friend, Maurice, has been making money 11 months of the year by turning the villa into the grand hotel.. La Dolce Vista.
Robert demands that the guests, six American teen aged girls and their chaperon leave. Unfortunately, the chaperon injures her back and before he knows it.. four American college boys pitch their tent outside on the villa lawn and begin chasing after the girls. Robert, decides to chaperon the girls keeping Tony, from seducing young Sandy Stevens. When Lisa learns that Robert has warned Sandy that men don't marry girls who "give away free samples," heartbroken she returns to Rome. Robert follows but, he is unable to stop Lisa. Will Lisa have a change of heart and go back to Robert?
This movie has beautiful Italian scenery and wonderful chemistry between the actors. Darin, sings one of his own songs. The electricity between Darin and Dee is so strong you can see why they married soon after filming. You will also enjoy the hilarious lines.
The same year she performed with Ernest Borgnine and Anthony Franciosa in, Go Naked in the World. Which is the basic story of a young man falling in love with a prostitute, only to have his father intervene.
In 1962 she was directed by Jean Delannoy again in, Venere Imperiale. Story about the life of Pauline Bonaparte, the sister of Napoleon.
In 1964 she co-starred with Sean Connery in the thriller, Woman of Straw. Connery's character Anthony Richmond schemes to get the fortune of his rich uncle Charles Richmond, by persuading his nurse Maria, to marry him. After his uncle's death Anthony becomes a murder suspect.
She co-starred with Rock Hudson again in, 1965's Strange Bedfellows. A film about a wealthy American and a bohemian Italian woman meet in London and marry. Then finding they have nothing in common and go their separate ways. Seven years later, just days before the divorce is to be finalised, they meet again and fall in love .. once again.
She also performed with Alec Guinness in ,1966's Hotel Paradiso. A story about a playwright, who gathers info about the goings-on of various characters who live in a run-down Parisian hotel.
In 1968 she performed in, Buona Sera, with Shelley Winters, Phil Silvers, and Telly Savalas, the plot of which is the basis for the stage musical Mamma Mia!.
Lollobrigida co-starred with Bob Hope in the comedy, The Private Navy of Sgt. O'Farrell and also traveled with Hope to visit military troops overseas. By the 1970s her film career had begun to fade. She performed in only a few movies in the early part of the decade. In the mid 80s, she starred in the television series Falcon Crest as Francesca Gioberti, a role originally written for Sophia Loren who turned it down. She also had a supporting role in the 1985 TV mini series Deceptions, co-starring with Stephanie Powers.
By the end of the 1970s she began a successful career as a photographic journalist. She photographed: Paul Newman, Salvador Dalí, David Cassidy, Audrey Hepburn, Ella Fitzgerald and the German national football team and scooped the world's press by obtaining an exclusive interview with Fidel Castro. In 1973 a collection of her work was published, Italia Mia.
She also focused on sculpting and it was 1984 before she returned to American television screens with a part in Falcon Crest. She showed her sculptures in Italy, France, Spain, Russia, United States, Qatar. She was also a corporate executive for fashion and cosmetics companies.