Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ciao, bella!

Caught a part of this 1958 flick the other night:"Houseboat" isn't a very good movie - it's too long, it's not very well written, and especially in that it has all the usual lame Hollywood tropes on display: the handsome-but-aging male lead as the love- and lust-object of the young and beautiful female lead (and Cary phones it in, as if he's mildly embarrased at his pursuit of a woman likely to be his long-lost eldest daughter); the horrendous moppets whose every rotten trick is excused as the result of being "troubled"; the confusion of "loud and stupid" with "funny". But it does have one thing going for it:Sophia Loren was beautiful in ways that I see in a very, very few of the actresses active today. Of course, she was that unusual in her day. When you stand her next to a 21st century ingenue her combination of physical grace with that heavy, languid sensuousness that we seem to have abandoned for...a complete lack of body fat?...makes her seem like a rich meal alongside a slice of Melba toast. Throw in that fierce intelligence and her earthy sensibility...there were, and are, very few actresses like Sophia.


Lisa said...

Sophia Loren proves Sir Frances Bacon's quote: "There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion."

Loren was real about herself, joking about her derriere size, or too-long nose, or too big eyes. But it all worked. Since she knew starvation as a child, she did not suffer our phobia of being an ounce overweight.

I could not agree more about today's "Melba Toasts." I recently observed the split in women in my area. There are those who suffer conspicuous avoirdupois. But then there are the others -- the birds. The size zeros and twos.

Their ages runt the gamut, but their faces are usually unhappy. Are they tabulating how many calories they are left for the day? Maybe they don't get enough essential fatty acids. Whatever, I find their presence discomfiting, and myself needing to move away from their space, so wrong is their energy.

Red Sand said...

There was an article in our local paper yesterday about a weight loss firm closing all of their shops in the region. Apparently in hard times, weight loss becomes less of a concern.

This follows closely with the theories that body fat and fashion trends fit with the economic conditions; people (mostly women) starve themselves in times of plenty to show control and choice. In times of restraint, more abundant sizes suggest access to calories and wealth. It'll be interesting to see what the next few years do to average body sizes.

Of course, poverty and nutritional deficiencies carry their own very obvious health implications.

None of that has anything to do with your tribute to Sophia, though, does it?

FDChief said...

Lisa: I think the thing I love most about Sophia is the sense you get that she sees herself as a whole person,a person of flesh and blood. I've known a lot of "actors" and they often seem to have a hard time figuring out where the characters stop and they start. Sophia never seems to have that problem. You get the feeling that she is always chuckling a little at the silliness of other people paying her to be pretty in front of a camera, but, as you point out, she had known real hardship, fear and want. She takes her due with a wink and a slow smile; gives me the happy shivers every time.

RS: As Lisa and I are discussing, it does, a bit. Sophia grew up in a war-destroyed Naples. She hustled to eat...and might even have hustle herself, if the rumors were true. I'll bet at some point she had her own Scarlett-and-the-turnip scene where she decided that if she ever got the chance she'd tuck in and enjoy the best in life. I'm glad she got the chance.

Wonderful actress.

Lisa said...

I recall reading her waxing philosophic over pasta. She said she loved it, and you sensed she was having fun with the interviewer who was asking her how she maintained her exquisite figure.

As you suggest, the subtext was that she was enjoying her buona fortuna, and that contentment translated into an exterior beauty. She felt like an ugly duckling in her youth, but she seemed to make the transition to being a truly lovely woman without artifice.