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, 21 September 2012

60 years a star: Sophia at 78

We have to wish Happy Birthday to Sophia Loren, 78 on 20th September - a star for about 60 years. We have done many posts on her here, as per label. 

I now find her early Italian films before she went into American films fascinating. It was an amazing rise to stardom from being an extra in QUO VADIS at 16 (she is one of the slave girls apparantly) in 1950 to headlining her own epics a decade later. She was merely in the background in Silvana Mangano's ANNA in 1951 but was a top Italian star by 1954 when she was barely 20, in titles like WOMAN OF THE RIVER, TOO BAD SHE'S BAD (the first with Mastroianni and De Sica), TWO NIGHTS WITH CLEOPATRA, ATTILA (the first of three with Quinn), GOLD OF NAPLES (of course she had producer and later husband Carlo Ponti managing her career, as Mangano had Dino De Laurentiis). It was fun to see LUCKY TO BE A WOMAN with Boyer and Marcello from 1955 recently, then there was SCANDAL IN SORRENTO before the Americans came calling. She was about 23 when co-starring with the much older Ladd, Webb, Wayne, Grant, Sinatra etc. Gable in IT STARTED IN NAPLES in 1960 was over 30 years older than her!

Her delicious sense of comedy and that attractive voice are showcased in that record album she made with Peter Sellers where they do several amusing numbers together. I wonder what happened to my vinyl copy of it?

Alec Guinness has a delightful story in his book "Blessings in Disguise" about taking her out to dinner, when they were making FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. She was probably one of the Naples kids he and the other British army personnal were giving food to back in 1944 during the war, when she would have been about 10. Now here they were making a movie 20 years later! 
Charlton Heston was not quite so amused though that the initial billing for EL CID (which had only him above the title) had to be changed as her contract stipulated equal billing. I remember reading about it in the papers when I was a kid at the time - there was a court case about it.

She certainly worked non-stop throughout the '50s and '60s ...that great era for international cinema. That delirious "Americano" number in IT STARTED IN NAPLES - right. 
It would be nice if there would be a good final role for her, she was not well served by NINE where she had little to do. 
HOUSEBOAT, 1958, she was maybe 23 or 24
Sophia and son Carlo, 2012 - she hardly seems to age

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