What is marvellous though is catching up with those early Loren films. her early '50s ones, before the American studios came calling. We saw ANNA a year or so ago, where she has a small part in this terrific Silvana Mangano drama, as well as - as per reviews at Loren label - TWO NIGHTS WITH CLEOPATRA, LUCKY TO BE A WOMAN, TOO BAD SHE'S BAD, WOMAN OF THE RIVER etc.
Now, thanks to pal 'Mel', here is another one: 1952's WHITE SLAVE TRADE (LA TRATTE DELLA BIANCHE), another of those terrific De Laurentiis-Ponti productions (like MAMBO, Mangano label), with marvellous black and white photography.
The torrid drama, directed by Luigi Comencini, concerns some gang lords, desperate women, a marathon dance contest which is a front for white slavery as girls are shipped off overseas .... Sophia, 18 here, is Sofia Lazzaro, a bit player as one of the girls dancing. The leads are Eleanora Rossi Drago (one of Antonioni's LE AMICHE) and Silvana Pampanini as a pair of contrasting girls, one good who is dancing in the marathon to earn money to get her guy (Ettore Manni) out of prison, and the other - La Pampanini (below with Sofia) -
using her attractions to get ahead.. It is a delicious guilty pleasure, with Vittorio Gassman as a cheap hood ... The dance marathon is surprisingly authentic looking, as good as the one in THEY SHOOT HORSES DON'T THEY? Sofia Lazzaro continued her upward rise and would be Sophia Loren the next year ....