Claudia Cardinale: 6 Decades in the Movies
Ahead of a MoMA retrospective, the actress reflected on her career, which includes over 100 films and many classics of Italian cinema.
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By Elisabetta Povoledo
Reporting from Rome
On a recent afternoon in Rome, Claudia Cardinale recalled the many heartthrobs she worked with during her more than six-decade movie career, and let out a full-throated laugh.
“And they also wanted to make love with me,” she said, “but I always refused.”
Over the years, the fresh-faced beauty — who David Niven, her co-star in an early “Pink Panther” movie, once described as Italy’s best invention besides spaghetti — had given the cold shoulder to more than one famous screen Casanova, Cardinale said in an interview. “They tried,” she added. “I turned down seducers.”
Then she laughed her mischievous laugh again.
Cardinale, 84, was in Rome last month for the Italian presentation of a newly restored version of Luigi Comencini’s 1963 film “La ragazza di Bube” (“Bebo’s Girl”), about a small-town girl who stands by her man, even after he is convicted of a crime and goes to jail.
“Bebo’s Girl,” which earned Cardinale her first prestigious acting award, Italy’s Nastro d’Argento for best actress, will be shown on Friday at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the first in a 23-film retrospective honoring the Tunisian-born Italian actress that runs through Feb. 21. It is one of a handful of times that the museum has presented a tribute to a living actor in its more than 90-year history.
“Beautiful actresses come and go,” Joshua Siegel, a MoMA curator, said in video message shown at the Rome screening. “But they usually don’t endure over a period of some 60, 65 years.”
Cardinale said she would not be in New York for the retrospective; she no longer travels like she used to. It tires her — she now uses a cane to get around — and she prefers to stay out of the limelight.
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