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Gina Lollobrigida R.I.P

I was saddened to learn of the passing of La Lollo.

Of the big three Italian post war stars – Sophia Loren, Claudia Cardinale and Gina Lollobrigida – she was my favourite.

Sophia Loren, guided by her husband Carlo Ponte, had the bigger Hollywood career, Claudia Cardinale was the more beautiful, but La Lollobrigida was the most quintessentially Italian.

She was argumentative and litigious, falling out with Howard Hughes the boss at RKO records, and once had 4 law suits on the go so her career stalled.

My favourite of her many films was Buena Sera Mrs Campbell.

Here she played Carla Campbell who took in (literally) 3 GIs during the Italian campaign of 1943. Unsure who the father was after she became pregnant, she took monthly pay checks from all three and – to avoid local disapproval – acquired for herself the name Campbell after the soup can.

The plot resembles that of Mamma Mia.

The three GIs – played by Phil Silvers, Peter Lawford and Telly Savalas – have a reunion in the village and are curious to meet up again with their erstwhile lover played by Gina Lollobrigida.

In one hilarious scene her daughter Gia dances with Phil Silvers. She asks him what sort of man her father was: “I hear he was handsome and brave.

Phil Silvers, who was neither, smirks: “He was both and a lot more besides”.

Gina Lollobrigida was perfect in the role, using her sexual wiles to keep them all, not least Phil Silvers over the top wife played brilliantly by Shelley Winters and it remains one of my favourites, not least for the scene when branded a slut by Gia, her new boyfriend Vittorio leaps to her defence as a mother for providing the best she could for her daughter.

Gina Lollobrigida was a talented woman who had a second career as a photographer, taking amongst other subjects Fidel Castro who was greatly enamoured by her.

Tempestuous, sexy, wilful – she was all of that – but a supreme star of the screen.

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About Neil Rosen

Neil went to the City of London School and Manchester University graduating with a 1st in economics. After a brief stint in accountancy, Neil emigrated to a kibbutz In Israel. His articles on the burgeoning Israeli film industry earned comparisons to Truffaut and Godard in Cahiers du Cinema. Now one of the world's leading film critics and moderators at film Festivals Neil has written definitively in his book Kosher Nostra on Jewish post war actors. Neil lives with his family in North London. More Posts