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, 23 June 2015

Monica Vitti in 1977 ...

and some new photos from MODESTY BLAISE, 1966 ..... does Sixties glamour get any better?
Thanks too, once again, to Colin for finding me the January 2 1977 UK "Sunday Times" colour supplement, with Monica on the cover and an interview with her inside. I had this at the time but misplaced it over the years. Fascinating to see it again, and it also has an interview with the young Ian McKellen. Here's what it says on Monica then ...
Monica Vitti was that high-strung lady who floated through those starkly beautiful Antonioni films of the early Sixties like L’AVVENTURA and LA NOTTE. In Italy these days she has, surprisingly, made herself a new reputation a a comedienne but in her next film MIMI BLUETTE she plays a more symbolic role. The setting is pre-1914 Paris; she plays the part of a dancer who goes from country to country searching in vain for her lover”. It was a project MGM bought for Garbo back in the 1920s, but was never made.

So starts a “Sunday Times Magazine” feature on Vitti in their colour magazine, dated 2 January 1977, where Monica is interviewed at her Rome apartment by Meriel  McCooey and photographed by Eva Sereny.

Vitti is a remarkable looking woman, a combination of strength and delicacy, Her fashionably untidy, silky blonde hair surrounds a fine-skinned face quite a stubborn jaw, all illuminated by alert green eyes, her nose has a slight curve and she avoids being photographed in profile.

In her Rome apartment which looks out on the Tiber, she was wearing a pastel patchwork dress trimmed with different laces which she picks up in markets and second-hand shops. She looked like a hippie butterfly and the effect was calculatingly ethereal. Her sitting-room is filled with priceless bric-a-brac, Tiffany lamps, oriental rugs, good sculpture, a coffee-table overflowing with non-coffee-table books, and pink and white blossom everywhere. “I bought this flat 16 years ago with the money from my first film. But I was so insecure that I kept all my clothes at my mother’s and used to go home to sleep”.

She was reading theatre notices in “The Sunday Times”  spread out over her huge cretonne-covered sofa. She reads in English, French and Italian, and in a husky come-to-bed voice speaks a little English, a lot of French and an enormous amount of quick-fire Italian. “I would love to go back to the theatre. I started in Rome (her hometown) when I was 14. I played a woman of 45 covered with lines and a snow-white wig. I thought that was what a woman of 45 looked like. But I did have this deep throbbing voice. When I began making films I was physically very different from the ideal Italian beauty. Loren and Lollobrigida were much more acceptable. But something happened with Michelangelo and myself – together we invented some stories, using little bits of autobiography, a soupcon in L’AVVENTURA, some in LA NOTTE. I was living materal".

In Antonioni’s films, Vitti seemed like to express the boredoms and tensions of modern women. You felt she was caged and longed to escape, vulnerable, trapped, brought to the brink by her environment.
“Antonioni was the only Italian director who told the woman’s story. The only creative man to take their problems seriously. After me, he didn’t make stories about women. We lived together for seven years. He still has the apartment above and we see each other constantly. He is my best friend.”  They did not contemplate marriage - “I decided at 12 that I didn’t want to marry. It’s a terrible life, so enclosed. Anyway, there are too many children in the world, why add mine."
"When we parted I had to change. I wanted to do comedy …. But it was difficult to get the audience to accept me, they were waiting for this neurotic woman.” Now she is very popular, she has made many hilarious comedies, such as THE GIRL WITH THE PISTOL and THE PIZZA TRIANGLE and THE SCARLET LADY, which are seldom shown outside Italy. She bought the rights to MIMI BLUETTE three years ago – the film was made by Carlo Di Palma last October in France and Morocco.  
“But I hate to fly. I went to Africa by car, it took five days there and 5 back. I refused a lot of work in America because of this, though Antonioni and I once went to New York and Mexico. But I was terrified in America, I didn’t like to watch the way the women get old. Anyway I love Europe, its so original, so full of faults."
Nowadays she says she lives alone: “A very simple life. When I’m not working I go to the cinema every night. Sometimes its very difficult. I am three dangerous things: a woman, an actress and not married, so I suppose I will work until I’m ninety.”

Flash-forward to now and Monica, in her 80s, has been in seclusion for some years, - as per other posts on her, see label. MIMI BLUETTE never made it to the UK either and seems unobtainable now. She married Roberto Russo in 1995 according to IMDB ., Antonioni died in 2007 - here they are with Alain Delon at Cannes in 1962 for the screening of L'ECLISSE.  

1 comment:

  1. with Delon & Antonioni - 1961, Ciak d'Oro, Roma, Italia