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.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Sophia's new memoir .....

Sophia at the AFI tribute to her, November 2014, see below
Finally I have got my hands on Sophia Loren's new memoir, and yes, its the book Loren admirers have been waiting for. Now 80, she takes us through her life and career, with a marvellous selection of photographs, including notes and letters from the likes of Cary Grant and Richard Burton and of course Marcello Mastroianni and Vittorio De Sica.

She comes across as a likeable, very grounded woman - after that amazing life in the '50s and '60s and '70s when she worked non-stop, always getting on and off of planes and finally having her two children, and she still looks amazing now.

As per all my posts of Sophia here, I grew up with her movies, ever since I was 10 or 11 - I went to THE MILLIONAIRESS both nights it played in my hometown, as I did IT STARTED IN NAPLES and all the others I liked - I particularly like BOY ON A DOLPHIN and LEGEND OF THE LOST and HOUSEBOAT etc.

The book, for which she is sole author, covers in detail her early Italian films, which I have enjoyed discovering: ANNA, WHITE SLAVE TRAFFIC, TWO NIGHTS WITH CLEOPATRA, ATTILA, GOLD OF NAPLES, TOO BAD SHE'S BAD, WOMAN OF THE RIVER (I loved seeing that as a kid, with her terrific mambo), THE SIGN OF VENUS, LUCKY TO BE A WOMAN and finally recently the delicious SCANDAL IN SORRENTO (PANE,AMORE, E...) - as per reviews here, see Sophia label..

It seems she is not doing a book-signing or appearance here in London, but there was a recent Sky Arts Interview with her, in Italian, also titled YESTERDAY, TODAY, TOMORROW, which was terrific (photo below) - and she did sign my copy of her first memoir (left) back in 1979 at that crowded Selfridges department store in London, it was marvellous to see her up close. Elizabeth Taylor was really the only comparable star to her back then. 

I did not care for the cover of this new book at first and felt it should be a more recent photograph of Sophia as we know her now, but actually it is very appropriate from her great late '50s era. 
She gives us nice comments on the likes of Burton, O'Toole, Alec Guinness, John Wayne, Peck etc. and one can see who she did not get on with too - Charlton Heston is only mentioned twice in passing, as is my favourite: EL CID, surely one of her most iconic roles - dismissed in one line, whereas she goes into detail on most of her other films! 
She couldn't possibly include everyone she has worked with of course, but some directors are not mentioned at all, like Anthony Mann or Stanley Donen, nor co-stars like Clifton Webb, Tab Hunter, Peter Finch, Jack Hawkins, Alan Badel or Brian Blessed, nor camera ace Jack Cardiff (who wrote revealingly about her in his memoir MAGIC TIME on when they were shooting LEGEND OF THE LOST, as I have mentioned before here, Loren/Cardiff labels), but there is quite a lot on her early days in Italian films and the directors (like Blasetti and Lattuada) she worked with then. 
Just two errors I noticed: a photo from ARABESQUE is captioned as being directed by Chaplin, when of course it was Stanley Donen; and the Peters get mixed up at one stage, Ustinov instead of Sellers. 
She is very discreet on Peter Sellers who became obsessed about her. The Cary Grant saga is nicely handled too. Brando gets short shift as well, and there's a delicious story about lunch at Audrey Hepburn's place (basically a lettuce leaf with garnish... Sophia had to make a sandwich when she got home!) She is frank on some of the films as well: THAT KIND OF WOMAN was not much of a success, despite being directed by the genius Sidney Lumet, and she learned a lot from Cukor on HELLER IN PINK TIGHTS which she now likes a lot. We finally find out what she did as an extra on QUO VADIS: she is one of the handmaidens tossing flowers at a victorious Robert Taylor, while her mother carries a big basket on her head - one may spot them next time one sees it then ! At least a decade or so later she was headlining her own epics! 

Here is my first publication on Sophia: a 1958 fan magazine, 64 pages on her life to then, I collected all that series, being 12 at the time, and still have the Sophia and Dirk Bogarde ones! 

I had felt that interview in the 2012 Hollywood issue of "Vanity Fair" might be her last comments on her life and career, so its nice to have a new book on and by her. There have been other biographies and books on her as a style icon and Italian woman, this new book is essential. She is getting another award next week from the American Film Institute in L.A (see link below), but hopefully we will see her in London again too, as at 80 she seems just as active as ever. 
Below: she and Marcello in that great year 1954.

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