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Straight From Europe: The Next Great Hollywood Beauty

Updated August 11, 2010

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 1: Introduction

Slide 1: Introduction

Given the importance of international markets to Hollywood films, any ensemble cast these days is filled with cast members hailing from different countries and different film traditions. In a global society, where cultures intermingle and foreign box office usually eclipses domestic, international stars bring to American pictures cultural realism as well as necessary fans back home. But when it comes to recognizing the cultural traditions of these performers, recent Hollywood has a spottier record. Some actors, mostly British, learn to swallow their accents and adopt a floating mid-Atlantic speech in order to play “American.” Actors from Asian or Spanish-speaking countries often represent either their immigrant cultures in America or, in the case of Chinese and Hong Kong actors in martial-arts inspired action films, simply enable Hollywood’s versions of their homegrown genres. But European actors who retain their European-ness, who signify their own distinct cultures, are not as common today as they were in the early decades of cinema, when they were some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

Anton Corbijn’s The American stars George Clooney as a private weapons maker for professional assassins who, after a tense job in Sweden, travels to the Italian countryside to await what will be his final assignment. The film co-stars Italy’s Violante Placido and Dutch actress Thekla Reuten as two women instrumental in his journey. For most U.S. moviegoers, The American will be their introduction to these magnetic actresses, who here embody the frisson between U.S. and European cultural traditions that Clooney’s character must negotiate.

What follows are brief looks at ten of cinema’s most celebrated actresses whose careers were built on just these kind of juxtapositions. In their diverse roles, these stars always brought Old World glamour to Hollywood stories, frequently parrying with their American co-stars in films set all across the globe.