There are some women who can cut through your armor like a hot knife through butter and get to your heart. Next thing you know you’re in love. You’re a lost pup. You don’t know if you’re coming or going. I’ll tell you. I’ve lived with some gorgeous women. You throw into the mix Italian, and top the word off with Sicilian, and Dio mio, it’s Claudia Cardinale.
Now how can you not like a women who told reporter in 1965: –
She liked a dry martini before dinner, caviar for hors d’oeuvres, lobsters or oysters for seafood, or a steak alla Fiorentina. When it came to wine, her preference was for a rich, red wine.
I love films, and I love film-making, and everything that goes with it. Cardinale, and her image was something that never left my mind. Since 81/2 weeks that image of her’s has stayed with me. I felt like Seinfeld kissing his date during Schindler’s List, watching Franco Zeffirelli Jesus of Nazareth and all the time thinking give me more on the screen of Claudia Cardinale.
While Cardinale was born in Tunisia on April 15, 1938, her parents were from Sicily. Her father was an Italian railroad worker. Despite having an Italian father, she grew up speaking French after her French mother. Cardinale speaks French, Italian, English, Spanish and Arabic. Cardinale first attracted attention in 1957 after winning the “Most Beautiful Girl in Tunisia” contest; her prize was a trip to the Venice Film Festival, inspiring her to pursue a career in acting. After studying at Rome’s Centro Sperimentale film school, she made her screen debut in 1958 in Mario Monicelli’s classic caper comedy I Soliti Ignoti, followed a year later by Pietro Germi’s Un Maledetto Imbroglio.
Under the guidance of producer Franco Cristaldi (later to become her husband), Cardinale emerged as a major sex symbol; however, she also continued to appear with highly regarded filmmakers, including Abel Gance (The Battle of Austerlitz), Luchino Visconti (Rocco E I Suoi Fratelli), and Philippe de Broca (1962’s Cartouche). In 1963, Cardinale received her widest exposure to date, playing herself — the object of star Marcello Mastroianni’s fantasies — in Federico Fellini’s masterpiece 8 1/2. That same year, she also appeared in Visconti’s epic Il Gattopardo. Their combined success piqued Hollywood’s interest, and in 1964 she co-starred in her first American production, Henry Hathaway’s Circus World. She also appeared opposite Peter Sellers in Blake Edwards’ The Pink Panther. I could not stop thinking of her in, Once Upon A Time In The West.
Cardinale continued dividing her time between Hollywood and Europe for the remainder of the decade, appearing in diverse projects ranging from the 1965 Visconti war drama Vaghe Stelle dell’Orsa to the 1966 Richard Brooks Western The Professionals. In 1968, she also co-starred in the Sergio Leone classic Once Upon a Time in the West. However, with the 1969 Mikhail Kalatozov adventure La Tenda Rossa, Cardinale began appearing almost exclusively in European films, few of which were distributed in English-language markets. As a result, she was largely a memory when she resurfaced in the 1976 hit The Pink Panther Strikes Again. A year later, she also co-starred in the television miniseries Jesus of Nazareth. Cardinale’s next high-profile international project was the 1982 Werner Herzog art-house hit Fitzcarraldo. She followed it with another miniseries, 1983’s Princess Daisy, then again remained in Europe prior to the 1993 Son of the Pink Panther.
As at Toronto International Film Festival, in Abu Dhabi the world’s oldest living filmmaker, and he remains one of its most inventive, prolific, and relevant at age 103, Portuguese master Manoel de Oliveira, film Gebo and the Shadow will be presented.
Gebo and the Shadow, based on the 1923 play by the great Portuguese modernist Raul Brandão, assembles a cast of cinematic legends — including Cardinale, Michael Lonsdale, Jeanne Moreau,along with de Oliveira regulars Leonor Silveira and Ricardo Trêpa (the director’s nephew) for a tale of a fin de siècle Parisian family beset by economic crisis — a story that has powerful resonance with our own times.
Would 81/2 weeks be enough time to sit down and talk to Cardinale about her adventures over time from Europe to Hollywood? I think not.
If time could be had with Cardinale to just sit and talk, where would it be? Abu Dhabi would be a good place to start.