With her fragile beauty and assured talent, Italian actress Anna-Maria Ferrero (1934) made a respectable impact in the Italian cinema of the 1950’s. As a teenager she started playing leads in films by Michelangelo Antonioni, Mario Monicelli, Mauro Bolognini and other major directors, and she would star in many stage plays and films opposite Vittorio Gassman.
Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano (Milan), no. 60.
Graphic-for-its-times Sexual Content
Anna-Maria Ferrero was born Anna Maria Guerra in Rome in 1934. At age 15, she debuted on screen in Il cielo è rosso/The sky is red (1950, Claudio Gora). Director Claudio Gori had spotted her walking through Via Aurora in Rome, and had offered her a screen test. At Rovi, Hal Erickson writes: “The Italian The Sky is Red (Il Cielo è Rosso) details the romantic adventures of two postwar couples. Despite being confined to a quarantined zone (quarantined for political, rather than health reasons), love finds a way. The neorealistic elements are passable, but what really 'sold' this film abroad was its graphic-for-its-times sexual content. The cast is headed by Jacques Sernas and Marina Berti, another step in the right direction box office-wise.” Anna Maria changed her last name in honour of famous musical director and conductor Willy Ferrero, who was her godfather. Her next roles were in Domani è un altro giorno/Tomorrow is another day (1951, Léonide Moguy) starring Pier Angeli, and opposite Raf Vallone in Il Cristo proibito/The forbidden Christ (1951), the only film directed by famous author Curzio Malaparte. In Le infedeli/The Unfaithfuls (1953, Mario Monicelli, Steno), she appeared with Gina Lollobrigida. Her delicate, photogenic beauty and assured talent attracted director Michelangelo Antonioni, who cast her opposite Franco Interlenghi in the Italian episode of his I vinti/Youth and Perversion (1953, Michelangelo Antonioni), three stories of well-off youths who commit murders, one taking place in Paris, another in Rome, and another in London. The following year she co-starred with Marcello Mastroianni in Cronache di poveri amanti/Chronicle of Poor Lovers (1954, Carlo Lizzani). Her rich role in this film was noted by the critics and the film went on to win the International Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Next she starred opposite Alberto Sordi in Una parigina a Roma/A Parisian in Rome (1954, Erich Kobler), and with comedy star Totò in Totò e Carolina/Toto and Carolina (1955, Mario Monicelli). On television she starred in 1956 in the drama Cime tempestose/Wuthering Heights alongside Massimo Girotti.
German postcard by Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft (Ufa), Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 1217. Retail price: 25 Pfg. Photo: Dial-Unitalia Film, Rome.
Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano (Milan), no. 466. Photo: publicity still for Febbre di vivere/Eager to live (1953, Claudio Gora).
Gassman and Sorel
Although her career would only span some 15 years, Anna-Maria Ferrero achieved reasonable status in the Italian cinema. She acted rarely outside Italy, but she was featured in the star-studded Paramount epic War and Peace (1956, King Vidor) starring Audrey Hepburn, Mel Ferrer and Henry Fonda. Another co-star in this production filmed in Cinecittà was Vittorio Gassman, who had been her partner since 1953. The couple often worked together. On stage, she had joined his theatre company and worked there for several seasons. Notable were her Ophelia in Hamlet, Desdemona in Othello and her title role in the musical Irma la Douce. In the cinema Ferrero and Gassman starred together in the Alexandre Dumas' drama Kean/Kean: Genius or Scoundrel (1956, Vittorio Gassman, Francesco Rosi), the adventure Giovanni dalle bande nere/The violent patriot (1956, Sergio Grieco), the romantic comedy Le sorprese dell'amore/Surprise of love (1959, Luigi Comencini), the drama La notte brava/Bad Girls Don't Cry (1959, Mauro Bolognini) and the comedy Il mattatore/Love and larceny (1960, Dino Risi). In 1960 their relationship ended. She had some spirited performances in the adventurous Il gobbo/The Hunchback of Rome (1961, Carlo Lizzani), and L'oro di Roma/Gold of Rome (1961, Carlo Lizzani), both with Gérard Blain. The following year she married the French actor Jean Sorel, with whom she starred in the comedy Un marito in condominio/A husband in the condominium (1963, Angelo Dorigo). Ettore Scola directed her opposite Nino Manfredi in Cocaina di domenica/Cocaine on Sunday, an episode of the anthology film Controsesso/Countersex (1965), in which a husband and wife start snorting cocaine after the friend who owned the bottle is arrested. Then, at the age of 37, Anna Maria Ferrero suddenly ended her career. Her retirement surprised many, but in the following decades she never made a come-back to the film world. Anna Maria Ferrero is still married to Jean Sorel.
French postcard by P.I., Paris, no. 49 B. Photo: Sam Lévin.
Sources: Gary Brumburgh (IMDb), Hal Erickson (Rovi), Wikipedia (English and Italian) and IMDb.