Harris's account of the life of the star of such semi-memorable movies as Two Women and El Cid is a few shades more...



Harris's account of the life of the star of such semi-memorable movies as Two Women and El Cid is a few shades more perceptive and readable than the average show-biz bio. The star cycle of female sex symbols is all too short. For 10 years, 15 if they're lucky, they reign as pinnacles of beauty and desirability. Then, they are gone. If they're lucky, they might reappear when they have reached the age to play grannies. Loren's career is an almost archetypal illustration of this sad, inevitable trajectory. Raised in utter poverty in Naples, she came of star-age at 19, in the heady days when tax breaks and tax restrictions created the multinational film and the multinational star. It was a time when foreign meant racy, and under the guise of the ""art film"" European movies thrilled American audiences with the kind of titillation they would never have countenanced in an American film, With her bold, fleshy beauty (and willingness to show cleavage), Loren quickly attracted general attention, as well as the attentions of producer Carlo Ponti, With his guidance and support, her career took off. Italy forbade divorce, but the married Ponti and Loren were soon living together. Through any number of infidelities and purported infidelities--all round--they have stayed together, eventually marrying as laws were liberalized. Harris (Audrey Hepburn, 1994, etc.) capably chronicles all these colorful goings-on without neglecting the movies themselves, of which some were great successes, while many more sank. Ultimately, these bad movie choices, conjoined with age, reduced Loren to semi-retirement. However, as Harris documents, she has enjoyed a second career as pitchwoman for her own brands of perfume and eyeglasses. And now the grandmother roles are just around the comer. For those still fascinated by the Academy Award-winning Italian actress, here are all the essentials and a little bit more.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1998


Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1997

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