Gina Lollobrigida: Five-decade movie career
Movie legend Gina Lollobrigida – La Lollo for short – turned 81 last July 4. She’ll be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award next Wednesday at the Rome Film Festival.
Throughout her five-decade+ career, Gina Lollobrigida has appeared in nearly 70 film and television productions, including many of the best-known European movies of the 1950s.
Among those are René Clair’s Les Belles de nuit / Beauties of the Night (1952), Christian-Jaque’s Fanfan la Tulipe / Fan-Fan the Tulip (1952), both starring Gerard Philipe; in addition to Robert Siodmak’s Le Grand jeu / Flesh and the Woman (1954), Luigi Zampa’s La Romana / Woman of Rome (1954), and, as Esmeralda, Jean Delannoy’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1958), opposite Anthony Quinn.
Along the way, Gina Lollobrigida won numerous accolades, including three Best Actress David di Donatellos: for La Donna più bella del mondo / Beautiful But Dangerous (1956), Imperial Venus (1963), and Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell (1968, tied with Monica Vitti for The Girl with the Pistol).
More recently, Lollobrigida won the Special Prize for Outstanding Contribution to World Cinema at the 1995 Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Belgium’s Joseph Plateau Life Achievement Award in 1997, and a special 50th Anniversary David di Donatello in 2006. (She had won a career award in 1996, as well.)
Surprisingly, I’ve seen very few Gina Lollobrigida movies: Luigi Comencini’s Pane, amore e fantasia / Bread, Love and Dreams (1954, photo), a likable comedy co-starring Vittorio De Sica, which turned Lollobrigida into a major star; John Huston’s uneven caper comedy Beat the Devil (1954), with Humphrey Bogart and Jennifer Jones; and John Sturges’ atrocious war drama Never So Few (1959), with Frank Sinatra. That’s about it.
‘Full of fire’
Below are a few snippets from Rachel Donadio’s interview with Gina Lollobrigida for the New York Times.
“No contemporary Italian actress, not even Monica Bellucci or Valeria Golino, has come close to the star status of La Lollo, Sophia Loren or Claudia Cardinale, who reigned supreme in the 1950s and ’60s. Now Ms. Lollobrigida has reached the stage of lifetime achievement awards: the National Italian American Foundation honored her in Washington this month, and the Rome International Film Festival is expected to fete her on Wednesday.
“She’s pleased, she said, but still surprised by her success. ‘In my career I did nothing to become what I am,’ she said. ‘It was the public made me an actress.'”
“Her best-known role remains her first, when she played ‘La Bersagliera,’ a sassy peasant girl in Luigi Comencini’s neorealist comedy Bread, Love and Dreams. It’s also her favorite. ‘I create La Bersagliera, oh, Dio,’ Ms. Lollobrigida said, adding the Italian reference to God for emphasis. ‘It fits me like a glove, the character,’ she added. ‘It’s very full of fire. Was like me.’
“Ms. Lollobrigida still appears to be full of fire. Last year she almost married a Spaniard 34 years her junior. The decision to call it off was hers, she said. ‘Obviously.’
“’I like younger men because they are generous,’ she said. ‘They don’t have complex. Especially with me, my God.'”