Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.
Friday, 24 September 2010
Claudia - "the most beautiful girl in Tunis" - hit the movies in 1959 and by the early '60s was the latest sensation, hot on the heels of Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida, as Visconti and Fellini (both at the same time!) had her as the muse of their latest art house hits: THE LEOPARD and FELLINI 8 1/2, making her, like Romy Schneider and Anouk Aimee, a prestige actress and (as photo left) the zenith of glamour. Then she was Princess Dalah in THE PINK PANTHER in '63 after those cult movies like Zurlini's GIRL WITH A SUITCASE and SENILITA, and this 1964 unseen (until now) rarity:
TIME OF INDIFFERENCE an Italian drama (but with mostly American players) based on a Moravia novel features Cardinale at her most beautiful in the '20s setting with great hair and costumes, she gets to pout a lot and her husky voice is great. Its the tale of a wealthy family falling on hard times and being taken over by an unscrupulous businessman, Rod Steiger, who after making the mother (Paulette Goddard in probably her last appearance) his mistress now wants daugher Claudia for himself. Thomas Milian (that Cuban actor who did lots of Italian films) is the son getting involved with family friend Shelley Winters who wants him for her gigolo. The son and daughter are too indolent and indifferent to try to change things and just settle for going along with what Steiger and Shelley want of them; even an attempt to kill Steiger is half-hearted. Goddard is wonderful here and reminds one a lot of Swanson as Norma Desmond. The director Francesco Maselli is unknown to me, but the other credits are satisfyingly familiar: producer Franco Cristaldi [her husband at the time], writer Suso Cecchi D'Amico, photographer Gianni di Venanzo and composer Giovanni Fusco. I was surprised that I liked it a lot.
Then westerns like THE PROFESSIONALS and ONCE A UPON A TIME IN THE WEST beckoned ...as Claudia kept working (often for Cristaldi), like in those Italian comedies like LE FATE and BLONDE IN BLACK LEATHER.
I also recently reviewed Visconti's 1965 hit SANDRA - [see Cardinale or Visconti label], with Claudia at her zenith, here's how it looks:
Another chance to run THE LEOPARD poster - there is a great interview with Claudia (maybe 8 years ago) on the BFI dvd where she talks about the film and looks and sounds - the voice is even huskier - as sensational as ever.