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Straight From Europe: The Next Great Hollywood Beauty

Posted August 11, 2010 to photo album "Straight From Europe: The Next Great Hollywood Beauty"

Anton Corbijn’s The American will give Americans the chance to discover two European actress: Italy’s Violante Placido and Dutch actress Thekla Reuten. They are only the latest in string of European discoveries.

Slide 1: Introduction
Slide 2: Greta Garbo - The Swedish Goddess
Slide 3: Alla Nazimova - The Passionate Russian
Slide 4: Marlene Dietrich - The Tough German
Slide 5: Ingrid Bergman - The Natural Swede
Slide 6: Alida Valli - The Italian
Slide 7: Sophia Loren - The Italian Scandal
Slide 8: Catherine Deneuve - The Cool French Beauty
Slide 9: Penelope Cruz - The Dark Iberian Vision
Slide 10: Audrey Tatou - The Fresh French Face
Slide 11: Monica Bellucci - The Exotic Italian
Slide 12: Thekla Reuten & Violante Placido - The New Wave
Slide 6: Alida Valli - The Italian

Slide 6: Alida Valli - The Italian "next Garbo"

The fact that the actress who later would be known simply as Valli was born “Baroness Alida Maria Laura Altenburger von Marckenstein-Frauenberg” might have suggested she was fated to be Hollywood royalty. But the Italian-Austrian actress, who would become an icon of European cinema, only brushed up against fame in America. Stardom came quickly in Italy as she shot to the top of her countries “most popular” list by the early 40s in a series of popular comedies. At the same time, she demonstrated her personal independence when in 1943––under penalty of arrest––she dropped out of films so that her image could not be used for propaganda purposes. After the war, producer David Selznick imported her, hoping to make her into “the next Garbo,” going so far as to use only her last name in a nod to the Swedish star. She appeared in Hitchcock’s 1947 thriller The Paradine Case, after which co-star Gregory Peck exclaimed, “Not only are her shapes and features perfect: from her eyes radiates an irresistible flashing of love." But her most famous role came several years later as the mysterious refugee in Carol Reed’s The Third Man, a part for which she was regularly applauded in reviews. But in between were appearances in a string of lackluster productions eventually leading to her break with Selznick in 1950.  She returned to Italy to start her career again, breaking out (again) in Luchino Visconti’s dark melodrama Senso. But just as the film was gaining critical momentum, Valli was pulled into a national scandal when her husband’s close friend became the chief suspect in a drug-laden, orgy-centered murder. Three years later, Valli returned to film, slowly gaining a sturdy reputation in theater and appearing in such European classics as George Franju’s 1960 Eyes Without a Face, Bernardo Bertolucci‘s 1970 The Spider’s Stratagem and Dario Argento‘s 1977 Suspiria.