09 February 2015

Laura Antonelli

Beautiful and sexy Italian film actress Laura Antonelli (1941) appeared in 45 films between 1965 and 1991.

Laura Antonelli
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. C.P.C.S. C. da 43.142.

Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs

Laura Antonelli was born Laura Antonaz in 1941 in Pola (now Pula, Croatia), which at the time was the capital of the Italian province of Istria. She moved with her family first to Genoa and then to Venice, before they all eventually settled in Naples.

She had a childhood interest in education, and as a teenager she became proficient at gymnastics. Setting aside ambitions to make a career in mathematics, she graduated as a gymnastics instructor. She moved to Rome, where she became a secondary school gym teacher and was able to meet people in the entertainment industry, who helped her find modelling jobs.

Antonelli's earliest engagements included Italian advertisements for Coca Cola and appearances on the TV show Carosello (1957-1977). In 1965, she made her first, uncredited film appearance in Le sedicenni/16 Year Olds (Luigi Petrini, 1965).

Her 'American' debut came was in Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (Mario Bava, 1966), an Italian-American coproduction starring Vincent Price. Two versions of the film were made, Italian and American. The American version was re-written, re-scored and re-edited without the participation of Mario Bava. The film was not particularly successful. According to Wikipedia it is considered by many critics to be director Bava's worst film yet it was his commercially most successful film in Italy.

Vincent Price's Goldfoot is the only character who appears in both versions. American distributor Samuel Z. Arkoff said the film's commercial reception was hurt by the refusal of Laura Antonelli to take her clothes off. Arkoff claimed she was originally willing to, but then his nephew, Ted Rusoff, who was sent to supervise the film, developed a crush on her and persuaded her not to do it.

Other roles for Antonelli followed. She appeared in a number of sexy films such as the erotic drama Venere in pelliccia/Venus in Furs (Massimo Dallamano, 1969) and Il merlo maschio/The Male Blackbird (Pasquale Festa Campanile, 1971) about a frustrated cello player (Lando Buzzanca), who exposes his wife (Antonelli) in a reworking of the renowned photograph by Man Ray.

In 1971, she also appeared opposite Jean-Paul Belmondo in the successful French comedy Les Mariés de l'an Deux/The Married Couple of the Year Two (Jean-Paul Rappeneau, 1971) and the two stars also privately had a long-time affair. She did more French films with Belmondo, such as the black comedy Dr. Popaul (Claude Chabrol, 1972).

Laura Antonelli
Italian postcard by Playboy edizioni Italiana, no. 2, 1982. Photo: Roberto Rocchi.

L'Innocente (1976)
Laura Antonelli in L'innocente/The Innocent (1976). Photo: collection Véronique@Flickr.

Sexual awakening

In 1973, Laura Antonelli had her breakthrough with the comedy Malizia/Malicious (Salvatore Samperi, 1973) for which she won the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists Award, Nastro d'Argento in 1974. The film is about the parallel desire of a widower and his three teenage sons for their new housekeeper. The film challenged sexual taboos by presenting and mixing such themes as a 14 years old boy (Alessandro Momo) who blackmails the housekeeper into eventually tolerating his increasingly aggressive physical sexual harassment.

In the same year, she also had a huge commercial success with the anthology comedy Sessomatto/How Funny Can Sex Be? (Dino Risi, 1973). From then on, she played leading roles in some major films.

In Luchino Visconti's last film, L'innocente/The Innocent (1976) she played the wife of Giancarlo Giannini. Based on a novel by Gabriele d'Annunzio, the film is set amongst the aristocracy of 19th-century Italy. Wealthy Tullio (Giannini) thinks nothing of squiring his mistress (Jennifer O'Neill) in full view of his friends and the public. But when Giannini's cast-off wife (Antonelli) begins an affair with a young novelist, it is too much for the philandering aristocrat.

In the romance Mogliamante/Wifemistress (Marco Vicario, 1977) with Marcello Mastroianni, she played a repressed wife experiencing a sexual awakening. Later she appeared in Passione d'Amore/Passion of Love (Ettore Scola, 1981). Antonelli's final role was in the sequel Malizia 2000/Malice 2000 (Salvatore Samperi, 1991).

In 1991, cocaine was found during a police raid on Antonelli's home. She was subsequently convicted of possession and dealing and sentenced to house arrest. She spent ten years appealing the conviction which was eventually overturned. In 2006 the Italian court of appeals ruled in the favour of Antonelli and ordered to pay the former actress 108,000 euros.

Trailer L'innocente/The Innocent (1976). Source: Pierre Marascia (YouTube).

Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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