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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 8: Catherine Deneuve - The Cool French Beauty

Slide 8: Catherine Deneuve - The Cool French Beauty

Few actresses symbolize their home country as much as France’s Catherine Deneuve. The regal beauty, whose face was once the model for the national symbol of France, achieved fame both in France and abroad with her starring role in Jacques Demy’s musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Classic films followed with Roman Polanski (Repulsion) and Luis Buñuel (in his sly satire of prostitution, Belle de Jour), and while Deneuve didn’t work as actively in the U.S. as some actresses on this list, in each decade she brought her special form of glamour to a stateside production. Her first American film was actually a 1969 comedy, The April Fools, in which she co-starred with Jack Lemmon. Even at the time of this early film, though, Deneuve never saw herself pursuing a Hollywood path. In a 2005 interview she remembered, “To be far away from France [shooting The April Fools] was very difficult for me. And the shooting was not taking enough of my time to make me forget that I was there. I really felt like a European actress taken out of Europe to look very good in an American film.” Indeed, that’s how the U.S. critics received Deneuve. In their two-paragraph pan, Variety wrote approvingly but condescendingly of her: “Deneuve, in her first American film, is worth just looking at.” In 1975, she co-starred with Burt Reynolds in Robert Aldrich’s grimy crime drama, Hustle. But more than from her occasional film presences, Deneuve became a familiar face in America as the visage of Chanel No. 5 and by topping journalists’ polls for the Most Beautiful Woman in the World.

Perhaps Deneuve’s most famous American role occurred in the 1980s, when she played alongside Susan Sarandon and David Bowie as a socialite vampire in Tony Scott’s first film, The Hunger. Always known for her cool sense of reserve, even today Deneuve doles out her English-language work sparingly and through sometimes offbeat choices, mixing appearances like her guest spot on Nip/Tuck among her regular roles in international European art films like Dancer in the Dark and Indochine, for which she was nominated for an Oscar.