Tuesday 23 June 2015

Laura Antonelli dies

One of the most marvelous and most sensuous actresses of her day Laura Antonelli has died aged 73. For a comparatively brief time she was one of the most popular European actresses of the day. She first attracted attention in a somewhat sleazy version of Venus in Furs (Massimo Dallamo, 1969). Most critics and most reviews in English first noticed her  in the 1973 comedy Malizia (Salavatore Samperi). Over the next dozen or so years she carved out a career mostly in common or garden Italian sex comedies and dramas. But there were two great films included there, Visconti's lush L'innocente (1976) and Ettore Scola's Passione d'Amore  (1981, screened at the 1982 Melbourne Film Festival). In a report in the New York Times Visconti is quoted a saying that “she has that mysterious quality which I call charm, namely beauty plus intelligence.” Passione d'Amore, a major commercial success in Italy and an art house success around the world (as was Visconti's film) also became the basis for the basis for Stephen Sondheim's brilliant piece of musical theatre Passion. At the height of her popularity Antonelli oozed sensuality and her frequent casual nakedness was quite something at a time when 'pornography' was much more restrained and fleeting occurrence in mainstream movies. Her career fell apart in 1991 with accusations of drug possession. She finally cleared her name of those charges in 2006. For a longer report there is this in the New York Times.

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