19 June 2012

Yvonne Sanson

Sensual Yvonne Sanson (1926 – 2003) appeared in 46 films between 1946 and 1972. The French, Greek-born actress became the passionate star of many Italian melodramas. She often acted opposite Amedeo Nazzari, who was off-screen also her partner.

 Yvonne Sanson
German postcard by Irma-Verlag, Stuttgart-W, no. 1479. Photo: Theo Huster.

Voluptuous Brunette
Yvonne or Ivonne Sanson was born in Salonika, Greece in 1926. She had a Turkish mother and a French father of Russian origin. At the age of 17, she emigrated to Italy to study. After the war she began to play small film parts in the melodrama La Grande Aurora/The Great Aurora (1946, Giuseppe Maria Scotese) and the swashbuckler Aquila Nera/Return of the Black Eagle (1946, Riccardo Freda), both starring Rossanno Brazzi. The voluptuous brunette with her proud gaze soon charmed the public. She had her breakthrough with the role of the fatal Ginevra in Il delitto di Giovanni Episcopo/Flesh Will Surrender (1947, Alberto Lattuada). Aldo Fabrizi played the lead role of Giovanni Episcopo, a mild-mannered clerk who makes several fatal mistakes, including marrying Sanson. The film was adapted from a Gabriele d'Annunzio novel by three of Italy's top postwar scenarists: Suso Cecchi, Federico Fellini and Pietro Tellini. She later also co-starred in Lattuada’s Il Cappotto/The Overcoat (1952, Alberto Lattuada) with Renato Rascel. A brilliant intermezzo was the Totò comedy L'imperatore di Capri/The Emperor of Capri (1950). Hal Erickson at AllMovie: “Toto was usually better than his material. L'Imperator di Capri is one of a handful of films that is truly worthy of Toto's farcical skills. The plot is a familiar one for the star, involving mistaken identity, close shaves, and a dalliance with a beautiful woman. (…) This time, he must contend with the amorous advances of two well-proportioned ladies, played by Yvonne Sanson and Marisa Merlini. Writer/director Luigi Comencini manages to extract the best of Toto and his idyllic surroundings in this frantically funny film.”

 Yvonne Sanson
German postcard by Irma-Verlag, Stuttgart-W, no. 1106. Photo: Theo Huster.

Yvonne Sanson became a popular star when director Raffaello Matarazzo cast her opposite Amedeo Nazzari in the tearjerker Catene/Chains (1949). The film presented her as a passionate woman, destined to unhappiness and unable to break away. It was the first of a series of weepy melodramas that for a decade moved Italian audiences to tears. Catene was followed by Tormento/Torment (1950), I figli di nessuno/Nobody’s Children (1951), Chi è senza peccato/Who is Without Sin (1952) with Françoise Rosay, Torna!/Come back! (1953), L'angelo bianco/The White Angel (1955) and Malinconico autunno/Melancholy Autumn (1958). Critics accused her films to be responsible for the cultural degradation of the Italian cinema after Neo-realism. Despite the popular success of Matarazzo’s melodramas, Sanson was forced in a cliché by them. She worked with other directors, but they did not offer her many interesting roles. Exceptions were the wife of amnesiac Totò in Lo smemorato di Collegno/The Amnesiac of Collegno (1962, Sergio Corbucci), and the bourgeois mother of Stefania Sandrelli in Il conformist/The Conformist (1970, Bernardo Bertolucci). With her youth her popularity faded as well. She appeared less and less on screen. She suffered financial problems due to serious difficulties with the IRS, and was forced to work as a translator. His final performance was in the television drama Tentativo di corruzione/Attempted bribery (1982). Then she withdrew to the city of Bologna, where she lived with her daughter Giulia. Yvonne Sanson died of natural causes in Bologna in 2003. She was 76.

 Yvonne Sanson
Dutch postcard by Takken, Utrecht, no. 1687.

Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), MyMovies.it (Italian), Wikipedia (Italian and English), and IMDb.

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