1. - Lucia Bosé, La Signora senza Camelie (US: The Lady Without Camelias), 1953. While Michelangelo Antonioni sued Gina Lollobrigida for quitting the beauty-queen-turns-actress role in his Italian movie biz satire, he considered beauty-queen-turned-extra Sofia Scicolone until deciding on Miss Italy, 1947.The film still flopped.
2. - Jean Seberg, Saint Joan, 1957. Although a trifle old at 23- and very lusty -for the Maid of Orleans, the tyrannical producer-director Otto Preminger was intrigued by the lates tItalian goddess. He also looked at fellow Italians Lucia Bosé (26) and Claudia Cardinale (the right age at 19). I nstead of Joan, Sophia used 1957 to launch her three-pronged entry into Hollywood fame: Legend of the Lost, The Pride and the Passion, Boy On A Dolphin.
3. - Eva Marie Saint, North By Northwest, 1958. Oh calamity! Cary Grant’s pride had fallen heavily for Sophia’s passion in 1957. He accepted her (after she refused to wed him) in Houseboat, 1958, and fell for her again, even offering her husband-to-be Carlo Ponti four free films if he’d let her go. Spurned a second time, Cary wanted no more of her, no matter what MGM wanted. Alfred Hitchcock stuck to his blondes... and “acted just like a rich man keeping a woman, I supervised the choice of her wardrobe in every detail. You know, just like Jimmy Stewart did with Kim Novak in Vertigo.” “We didn’t talk business at all,” Saint told the New York Times, 1999, “but by the time the lunch was over, I was Eve Kendall. To this day, I’m fascinated that he saw me as a sexy spy-lady.” (And no Hitch hanky-hanky: “he was very protective of me.” Indeed, he called Saint “the holiest of actresses.”). And Sophia made 1965 the Hitchcockian Arabesque with Gregory Peck, from the Hitch list for the Grant’s North West role.
4. - Jeanne Moreau, Jovanka e le altre (US: Five Branded Women, Italy-US, 1959. With their heads shaved for sleeping with German soldiers during WWII, five Yugoslav women then bravely fought for their homeland with the very partisans who had humiliated them. Also up for the heroines: Loren, Claire Bloom, Ava Gardner, Julie Harris, Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren, Shirley MacLaine, Barbara Nichols, Lee Remick. (Moreau and Barbara Bel Geddes were not shaven for the film, they wore bald-wigs).
5. - MylèneDemongeot,Les trois mousquetaires/TheThree Musketeers,France,1961. Realisateur Philippe De Broca’s fourthfilm, a lavish Dumas special - Charles Aznavour, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Alain Delon, etc - was sideswiped by a smaller quickie production. Belmondo and De Broca made Cartouche, instead.
6. - Joan Collins,The Road To Hong Kong,1962. For once, Bob Hope did not get his way with a pin-up rave. La Lollo and Brigitte Bardot also refused the Hope-Crosby road finale. Things had changed. Pin-ups were actresses and road movies were, soon enough,Wim Wenders.
7. - Rosanna Schiaffino, The Victors, 1963. Sophia had replaced Ingrid Bergman in writer-producer Carl Foreman’s TheKey, 1958, but pulled out of his one-off directing gig, when she was charged with bigamy after the Vatican refused to recognise her producer-husband Carlo Ponti's Mexican divorce and their marriage.
8. - Elizabeth Taylor, Cleopatra, 1963.
9. - Elizabeth Taylor, The VIPs, 1963. Playwright Terence Rattigan wanted Sophia as the runaway wife held up by fog at London Airpor t(based on Vivien Leigh’s attempt to flee Laurence Olivier for Peter Finch). “Let Sophia stay in Rome,” said Liz and once mild-mannered Anthony “Puffin” Asquith succeeded Vincente Minnelli as director,Liz took overthe filming. And the editing.
10 .- Brigitte Bardot, Le Mépris (US: Contempt) France, 1963. France tried again… Producer Carlo Ponti wanted, as per usual, Loren-Mastroianni. French auteur Jean-Luc Godard tried hard for another proven team:Novak-Sinatra... but was happier with Bardot-Piccoli. “She’s a loyal girl,”said Godard. “Without her OK, the film would never have happened - it’s the first time she acted her real age, 29.She was extraordinaire.” This remains the BB film most frequently seen pn French TV channels.
11 - Elke Sommer, A Shot in the Dark, 1963. After The Millionairess, Peter Sellers didn’t want to work with anyone other than his “lover.”Except poor Sophia was his lover only in his wildest fantasies. When he couldn’t win Napoleon opposite her Madame Sans-Gêne, or the snooty valet who weds her Countess From Hong-Kong, he simply haunted her Euro sets like a lovelorn puppy - during The Fall of the Roman Empire and even bothering her most important work, Two Women. Sophia never complained - “Nobody else has reached his level and his originality”- and when running into UK journalists, like me,she would always ask: “How’s Peter?”
12 - Kim Novak, Of Human Bondage, 1964. “Sex appeal is 50% what you’e got and 50% what people think you've got.” That’s Loren talking - “the ladyest damn lady you saw,” as Stella Stevens aimed to be in The Ballad of Cable Hogue.
13 - Kim Novak, The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders, 1965. Opposite Warren Beatty... One of director Terence Young's notions. So was Gina Lollobrigida and Richard Harris, or Sean Connery and his wife, Diane Cilento, or...
14 - Julie Christie,Doctor Zhivago, 1965. “Too tall,” said David Lean, politely, for his idea of Lara. Adding: “If anyone can convince me she’ a virgin, I’ll let her play the part.” Producer Carlo Ponti’s choices – Loren-Newman - made Lady L, instead. Not the same thing at all!
15 - Abby Dalton, The Plainsman, TV, 1966. Due as Calamity Jane(!!) helping Steve McQueen as Wild Bill Hickock stop an Indian war,in a re-make of the 1936 Cecil B DeMille film with Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur.Finally re-made some30 years later.
16 - Ursula Andress, Casino Royale, 1966.
17 - Lisa Gastoni,L’homme qui rit, France, 1966. Carlo Ponti was setting up the first talkie version of the obscure, 1869 Victor Hugo story when he realised Sophia was too old for the Juliet-style teenager Déa - and too sweet for the dreadful Duchess Josiane. He switched gears and stars (Loren, Robert Hossein) to re-making Madame Sans-Gene, 1962. Spaghetti Western director Sergio Corbucci helmed the first talkie version, when Gwynplaine became Angelo and Josiane… Lucrezia Borgia, no less!
18 - Anna Karina, Lamiel, France, 1967. With his 1961 Musketeers in ruins, producer Alexandre Mnouchkine tried to move Loren and Jean-Paul Belmondo from Dumas to Stendahl - but the unfinished book had script problems.For six years.
19 - Elizabeth Taylor, The Taming of the Shrew, 1967. Italian stage-screen director Franco Zeffirelli’s initial idea was Europe’s greatest romantic duo: Sophia and Marcello Mastroianni as Kate and Petruchio. His agent, Dennis van Thal, told Franco to think British if he really wanted to be an international film-maker. “Would have been very difficult to do it with another actress,” commented Burton.“You can throw your wife about but it’s difficult to throw, say, Sophia Loren around.”
20 - Elizabeth Taylor, The Comedians, 1967. Richard Burton was against Liz taking such a small role. “They conned me,: she said. "They got me on the strength of that argument: You don’t want anybody else doing those kissing scenes with Richard, do you?” Burton got to kiss Loren in two later films, 1974’s Il viaggio/The Journey and the (totally unnecessary, wholly sacrilegious ) Brief Encounter re-make,
21 - Jane Fonda, Barbarella,1968. After Brigitte Bardot refused, producer Dino de Laurentiis wrote asking Sophia to be Jean-Claude Forest’s sf heroine. Then, realisateur Roger Vadim said: “This could be terrific.” It wasn’t.
22 - Claudia Cardinale, C'era una volta il West (UK/US: Once Upon A Time in the West), Italy-US, 1968. At one time, Carlo Ponti wanted to forcee his way into the production. This meant, of course, that the Missus would have the first real female lead in a Sergio Leone Western. “Sophia is an actress I appreciate very much, but I do not see her as a prostitute from New Orleans. Naples, maybe. Besides coming from Tunis, Claudia is more French.” And CC was never better.
23 - Anne Heywood, La Monaca di Monza/The Nun of Monza, Italy, 1969. Director Luchino Visconti talked to Sophia about his version. He just never got around to making it.
* The role was her's. Sophia Loren even made tests to find the best mediaeval wimple. Finally, she never found the time to be The Nun of Monza (for Luchino Visconti or any other director) in her mid-60s cycle of comedies with Marcello Mastroianni. The British Anne Heywood went to Monza, instead. And Sophia wimpled later (above) in Bianco, rosso e... or White Sister, 1972.
[Photo © Compagnia Cinematografica Champion/Columbia Films SA, 1972]
24 - Sylva Koscina, Hornet’s Nest, Italy-US, 1970. And the idea ofworking with Sophia was the reason Rock Hudson had agreed to Italy’s anti-war thriller.
25 - Vanessa Redgrave, Mary, Queen of Scots, 1971. The Scottish queen was always intended by producer Hal B Wallis for Genevieve Bujold. She was not keen on another executed 16th Century royal, having already been beheaded as Henry VIII’s second wife, Ann Boleyn, in A Thousand Days. Wallis next looked over Loren(!),Mia Farrow, Jane Fonda, Maggie Smith. Redgrave (first booked for Elizabeth I) was sixth choice.
26 - Susannah York, Images, 1972. Director Robert Altman tried to his own Persona over a decade or more. With Sandy Dennis in Vancouver, JulieChristie in London, Loren in Milan - finishing with a pregnant Susannah in Dublin.Sophia and Altman got it on 22 years later with hisPrêt-à-Porter, 1994.
27 - Florinda Bolkan, Una breva vacanza (US: A Brief Vacation), Italy-Spain, 1973. Not like Vittorio De Sica to reject La Loren but… According to his producer Arthur Cohn, Loren, Jane Fonda and Liz Taylor were all fighting to be Clara Mataro. Sophia was back inhis next - and final - film, Il viaggio (UK: The Journey; US: The Voyage), 1974. Nor their best.
28 - Glenda Jackson, A Touch of Class, 1973. The tall Sophia and the short Dustinbecame the more comfortably sized George Segal and Glenda.“We were an off-the-wall, unexpected couple,” Segal told me in Paris. “Mel Frank [writer-producer-director] put us together.”
29 - Liv Ullmann, 40 Carats, 1973. Before he bowed out of the project, William Wyler talked of Sophia for the fortysomething woman involved with a twentysomething guy during a Greek vacation. But he also spoke of: Audrey Hepburn, Glenda Jackson, Shirley MacLaine, Elizabeth Taylor, Joanne Woodward. Oh yes, and... Doris Day!
30 - Faye Dunaway, After The Fall, 1974. Ultra-Italian Sophia as all-American Marilyn Monroe? Yes - in 1964. “On Broadway, the girl who played it (Elia Kazan's wife,Barbara Loden) looked too much like Marilyn, whose story it was alleged to be. I think Arthur Miller wants to get away from that in the film." Dunaway did it for where Loren was soon headed: TV.
31 - Susannah York, That Lucky Touch, 1975. Two weeks before shooting started, Roger Moore’s producer Dimitri de Grunwald met Sophia and her producer (and husband) Carlo Ponti in Paris - and was told: “Sophia is not doing the film.” She was keen (she always complained there were too few leading men taller than she was). Ponti probably wanted half of the film. Roger called up his recent Gold co-star. Not even Ponti could rescue this tepid caper.
32 - Lupita Ferrer, The Children of Sanchez, 1978. Announced in 1964 as Anthony Quinn's dream film.By the time Hal Bartlett started directing, Sophiawas too old for the Sanchez daughter supporting herstudies by nightclub dancing…
33 - Dolores Del Rio, The Children of Sanchez, 1978. …and not really old enough to be Quinn’s mother-in-law. Hal’s Venuzuelian actress-wife took over as the daughter. Hmm, never saw that coming!
34 - Goldie Hawn, Viaggio con Anita, Italy-France, 1978. “Hello,” said Sophia on the phone to Federico Fellini. “it’s Anita.” Not! Anita’s voyage grew from a (long) stanza axed from the La dolce vita script - with Marcello Mastroianni and his lover, taking a (longer) Cadillac trip to his father’s deathbed. Fellini wanted Sophia - representing Nature opposite Marcello (or Gregory Peck) as Culture. Producer Carlo Ponti (aka Mr Loren, after a sudden, 1957 Mexican proxy marriage) didn’t want his old partner/enemy, producer Dino De Laurentiis, messing with his lady, and priced her out of contention.. End of project, as Fellini refused any other Anita (even his beloved Miss Ekberg) and the excellent script, or the bare bones of it, finished up also being known by the Woody Allenish title, Lovers and Liars. And flopped. Naturalmente.( Without malice, Fellini had satirised The Pontis as the Mezzabottis in 8½, 1962).
35 - Joan Collins, Dynasty, TV, 1981-1989. “Nobody takes me to bed and to the cleaners in one night...” Liz Taylor, Raquel Welch and Sophia were all seen as Alexis (originally Madeleine) Morell Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan, an empty cypher until Joan Collins took her on and (as a Dallas fan) suggested that Alexis should be a bitchy JR Ewing. But hubby, Carlo Ponti, wanted too much money. Same again when another soap came acalling...
36 - Gina Lollobrigida, Falcon Crest, TV, 1984. This time the role was Francesca Gioberti, Jane Wyman’s secret half-sister threatening to control Falcon Crest - in short, Alexis Take Two. With a drop dead gorgeous wardrobe over thirteen episodes,. La Lolla filled in - just the five shows, though.
37 - Jacqueline Bisset, Anna Karenina, 1985. An old dream of her producer-husband Carlo Ponti (with George Cukor directing) wsas churned into a TV soap.
38 - Marina Vlady, Bordelo, Greece, 1985. Writer-director Nicos Koundouros cashed in on Sophia’s taxing days in jail in 1982 to announce she wouldplaythe famous Crete brothel keeper Madame Hortense (Lila Kedrova in Zorba The Greek). Opposite, he said, Isabelle Adjani, James Mason, Peter Ustinov… Hah! Vlady was aghast at how Koundouros made nonsense of her role. Apart from the Thessaloniki festival (twice in 1985 and 1998!), the film was never seen anywhere.
39 - Sharon Stone, Blood and Sand, 1989. Announced in the late 50s, The second Hollywood re-make of Valentino’s matador was announced in the late 50s - with future producer Robert Evans in the suit of lights oppposite Loren.
40 - Claudia Cardinale, Son of the Pink Panther, 1992. Oh, what a woeful mess as director Blake Edwards tried yet again to keep his Panther annuity alive. He chose the Italian Benigni - far less subtle than Peter Sellers - but a good excuse to resurrect Claudia Cardinale from the first film, The Pink Panther, 1962,as his mother, Maria Grambelli, following an affair with Clouseau. Except, of course, CC was an Indian princess in the first film and Maria was Elke Sommer in the second, A Shot in the Dark, 1963. So much funnier than this shot in the head. However, CC was a better taste notion than Edwards inviting Loren to be Momma, inspired by Sellers having forever boasted (fantasised, actually) of an affair with Sophia! In fact, she was to be Maria back in 1962, until husband Carlo Ponti squashed that idea to stop Setllers publicly fantasising anew about Sophia.
41 - Virna Lisi, La Reine Margot, France-Italy-Germany, 1993. Producteur Claude Berriwanted an illustrious global star as the powerful Catherine de Médicis, circa 1572. Realisateur Patrice Cherau went to the inevitable choices - and both Loren and Monica Vitti turned him down. Lisi, largely forgotten since her ’60s’ heyday, saw the potential of thew role. And won Best Actress at the 1994 Cannes Festival when a certain gnashing of teeth could be heard all the way from Rome.
42 - Ann-Margret, Grumpy Old Men, 1993. After the death of Audrey Hepburn, the team thought of an Italian but... "One of the first things we thought of when they decided to make a sequel was: Great! Now we can cast Sophia," said Grumpy maker Donald Petrie (who quit Grumpier for a Whoopi Goldberg film). “I wanted to work with Jack and Walter,” said Loren of Lemmon and Matthau. “They’re maybethe only two actorsI didn’t work with yet.”
43 - Meryl Streep, The Bridges of Madison County, 1995. Also short-listed for author Robert Waller’s Italian war bride Francesca were:Jacqueline Bisset, Claudia Cardinale, Catherine Deneuve, Jessica Lange, Isabella Rossellini, Susan Sarandon. After tentative efforts by directors Bruce Beresford, Mike Newell, Sydney Pollack and the mighty Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood took over the helm. And casting. In a trice.
"Sophia is gorgeous, a marvelously put-together machine. But she's a grievous card sharp; in Naples, they're born with a pack of cards. Of course, she can do this [he sticks a haughty nose in the air] but give her a nudge and she's the funniest woman in the world. A helluva woman!"
- Peter O’Toole, the New York Times, 1972. (And I can’t find anyone to disagree with him).