23 May 2018

Anna-Maria Ferrero (1934-2018)

On 21 May 2018, Italian actress Anna-Maria Ferrero has passed away in Paris. With her fragile beauty and assured talent, Ferrero made a respectable impact in the Italian cinema of the 1950s. 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. She was married to actor Jean Sorel.

Anna Maria Ferrero
Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 340. Photo: Minerva Film.

Anna Maria Ferrero
French postcard by P.I., Paris, no. 49 B. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Anna Maria Ferrero
Vintage card. Photo: Video.

Anna Maria Ferrero, Sandro Milani
Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano (Milan), no. 466. Photo: publicity still for Febbre di vivere/Eager to live (Claudio Gora, 1953) with Sandro Milani.

Anna Maria Ferrero
Italian postcard by Bromofoto, no. 408.

Graphic-for-its-times Sexual Content

Anna-Maria Ferrero was born Anna-Maria Isabella Guerra in Rome in 1934. Anna-Maria later changed her last name in honour of famous musical director and conductor Willy Ferrero, who was her godfather.

At the age of 15, she made her screen debut in Il cielo è rosso/The sky is red (Claudio Gora, 1950). Director Claudio Gori had spotted her walking through Via Aurora in Rome, and had offered her a screen test.

At AllMovie, 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.”

Her next roles were in Domani è un altro giorno/Tomorrow is another day (Léonide Moguy, 1951) 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 (Mario Monicelli, Steno, 1953), 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 (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1953), 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 (Carlo Lizzani, 1954). 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 (Erich Kobler, 1954), and with comedy star Totò in Totò e Carolina/Toto and Carolina (Mario Monicelli, 1955). On television she starred in 1956 in the drama Cime tempestose/Wuthering Heights alongside Massimo Girotti.

Anna Maria Ferrero
Italian postcard in the Italy's News Photos by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 1244.

Anna Maria Ferrero
Italian postcard by Bromostampa, Milano, no. 295.

Anna Maria Ferrero
German postcard by Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft (Ufa), Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 1217. Retail price: 25 Pfg. Photo: Dial-Unitalia Film, Rome.

Anna Maria Ferrero
Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano, no. 363. Photo: Universalfoto.

Anna Maria Ferrero in Canzoni di mezzo secolo (1954)
Italian postcard by Bromofoto, no. 721. Photo: Minerva Film. Publicity still for Canzoni di mezzo secolo/Half a Century of Song (Domenico Paolella, 1954).

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 (King Vidor, 1956) 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 (Vittorio Gassman, Francesco Rosi, 1956), the adventure Giovanni dalle bande nere/The violent patriot (Sergio Grieco, 1956), the romantic comedy Le sorprese dell'amore/Surprise of love (Luigi Comencini, 1959), the drama La notte brava/Bad Girls Don't Cry (Mauro Bolognini, 1959) and the comedy Il mattatore/Love and larceny (Dino Risi, 1960). In 1960 their relationship ended.

Ferrero had some spirited performances in the adventurous Il gobbo/The Hunchback of Rome (Carlo Lizzani, 1961), and L'oro di Roma/Gold of Rome (Carlo Lizzani, 1961), 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 (Angelo Dorigo, 1963).

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 with the drug is arrested.

Then, at the age of 37, Anna Maria Ferrero suddenly ended her career. Her retirement surprised many, but she never made a come-back to the film world.

At the time of her death, Anna Maria Ferrero was still married to Jean Sorel. She was 84.

Anna Maria Ferrero
Italian postcard by Vetta Traldi, Milano in the Divi del Cinema series, no. 51. Sent by mail in 1955.

Anna Maria Ferrero and Maurizio Arena in Totò e Carolina (1955)
Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano. Photo: Ponti - De Laurentiis. Publicity still for Totò e Carolina/Totò and Carolina (Mario Monicelli, 1955) with Maurizio Arena.

Anna Maria Ferrero in Kean - Genio e sregolatezza (1957)
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin-Charlottenburg, no. I 282. Photo: Union Film. Publicity still for Kean - Genio e sregolatezza/Kean: Genius or Scoundrel (Vittorio Gassman, Francesco Rosi, 1957).

Anna Maria Ferrero (1935-2018)
Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano, no. N. 138.

Anna Maria Ferrero
Italian postcard by Rotalfoto, Milano (Milan), no. 60.

Sources: Gary Brumburgh (IMDb), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Wikipedia (English and Italian) and IMDb.
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