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.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

White Slave Trade (1952) -v- Nine (2009): Nine loses.

When I began this blog back in 2010, the big film coming up was NINE, which we were all impatient to see, with that great cast.  Well, we saw it and it promptly sank without trace - we were not surprised, not being impressed by Rob Marshall's other musical CHICAGO either, though we loved the stage show - which I saw in 1998 when it had Broadway legend Chita Rivera in the cast, here in London. I did not even bother with NINE when it turned up on television last weekend.

NINE was a rare misfire for Daniel Day-Lewis, though it had a few good moments. At least he got to drive Sophia Loren around Italian locations in that super sports car. Sophia looked better leaving that London restaurant during the shoot, than she did in the actual film. If I ever feel the need to endure NINE again, the dvd is filed away somewhere, but I can't imagine I will. 
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 ....

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