Pages

18 July 2016

Dina Sassoli

Beautiful Dina Sassoli (1920-2008) was an Italian stage and screen actress, who broke through with the historical drama I promessi sposi/The Betrothed (Mario Camerini, 1941).

Dina Sassoli
Italian postcard by Stab. Angell, Terni / A. Terzeli, Roma, no. 138. Photo: Foto Villoresi.

Success with a Twist


Dina Sassoli was born in Rimini, Italy in 1920. In 1941, she suddenly became famous internationally by her performance as Lucia in the historical drama film I promessi sposi/The Betrothed aka The Spirit and the Flesh (1941) by Mario Camerini.

I promessi sposi is an adaptation of the famous 1827 novel The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni. The film's producers organised a competition to select the lead actress, which was eventually won by Sassoli. The competition was modelled on the hunt for Scarlett O'Hara by the American producer David O. Selznick for Gone With the Wind.

Sassoli's success came with a twist. She had married a young journalist, who was considered antifascist by the government. In 1942, he disappeared. Devastated, Sassoli almost gave up her career.

However, in the war years she played several leads in films. An example is Nessuno torna indietro/None came back (Alessandro Blasetti, 1943, released 1945), adapted from the novel of Alba de Cespedes.

In this film on seven college girls she plays Milly, a shy and romantic girl who loves music. She falls in love with a blind man, but then suddenly dies. Her co-stars were Valentina Cortese, Maria Mercader, Doris Duranti, Elisa Cegani, Mariella Lotti and Maria Denis.

Dina Sassoli
Italian postcard by Rizzoli, Milano, 1942-XX. Photo: Scalera Film. Publicity still for Don Giovanni/Loves of Don Juan (Dino Falconi, 1942).

Dina Sassoli in Don Giovanni (1942)
Italian postcard by B.F.F. Edit. (Ballerini & Fratini), Firenze, no. 4301. Photo: Scalera Film / Foto Pesce. Publicity still for Don Giovanni/Loves of Don Juan (Dino Falconi, 1942).

Tormented Love Affair


Dina Sassoli also starred in memorable films from the postwar era such as Un giorno nella vita/A day in the life (Alessandro Blasetti, 1946), Umanità/Humanity (Jack Salvatori, 1946), and Il mulino del Po/The Mill on the Po (Alberto Lattuada, 1948), in which she plays the sister of Jacques Sernas.

In the war drama Un giorno nella vita, Sassoli was one of the nuns who take care of a group of partisans, after which German revenge follows. In the little known production Umanità, she is a young refugee who sincerely suffered the war and has an affair with a refugee camp doctor, until her fiancé shows up and the doctor goes back to his wife. The film was shot in the makeshift refugee camp in Cinecittà.

However, Sassoli discovered the stage in the postwar era as well, acting with Vittorio Gassman in Kean and with Gino Cervi in Cyrano de Bergerac, and also with Anna Proclemer and Gabriele Lavia.

Until the mid-1980s – and with an intermission between the mid-1950s and 1970 - Sassoli would act in mostly smaller parts in about fifty films made by directors such as Guido Brignone, Corrado d’Errico, Mario Mattioli, Camillo Mastrocinque, Larry Peerce, Giuliano Montaldo, Giuseppe Bertolucci and Luigi Comencini.

Her last film parts were in Voltati Eugenio/Eugenio (Luigi Comencini, 1980) with Francesco Bonelli, Oggetti smarriti/An Italian Woman (Giuseppe Bertolucci, 1980) with Bruno Ganz, and in La storia/History (Luigi Comencini, 1985) starring Claudia Cardinale.

Of Sassoli's TV performances the one best remembered is her interpretation in the television drama Sorelle Materassi (1972) directed by Mario Ferrero.

Famous was Dina Sassoli's tormented love affair with Massimo Serato who ultimately left her for Anna Magnani. Dina Sassoli died in Rome in 2008.

Dina Sassoli in I promessi sposi (1941)
Italian postcard by S.A. Grafitalia, Milano (Milan), no. 10. Photo: Film Lux. Publicity still for I Promessi Sposi/The Spirit and the Flesh (Mario Camerini, 1941) with Dina Sassoli as Lucia Mondella.

Dina Sassoli in I promessi sposi (1941)
Italian postcard by S.A. Grafitalia, Milano (Milan), no. 10. Photo: Film Lux. Publicity still for I Promessi Sposi/The Spirit and the Flesh (Mario Camerini, 1941) with Dina Sassoli as Lucia Mondella.

Dina Sassoli in I promessi sposi (1941)
Italian postcard by S.A. Grafitalia, Milano (Milan), no. 10. Photo: Film Lux. Publicity still for I Promessi Sposi/The Spirit and the Flesh (Mario Camerini, 1941) with Dina Sassoli as Lucia Mondella and Eva Maltagliati as the Nun of Monza.

Gino Cervi and Dina Sassoli in I promessi sposi (1941)
Italian postcard by S.A. Grafitalia, Milano (Milan), no. 10. Photo: Film Lux. Publicity still for I Promessi Sposi/The Spirit and the Flesh (Mario Camerini, 1941) with Dina Sassoli (Lucia), Luis Hurtado (Fra' Cristoforo), Gino Cervi (Renzo), and Gilda Marchiò (Agnese, Lucia's mother).

Sources: Christophe Lawniczak (Ciné-Artistes - French), Wikipedia (Italian and English) and IMDb.

No comments: