Martine Carol

  1. Silvana Mangano, Riso amaro/Bitter Rice, Italy, 1949.     Director Giuseppe De Santis wanted a girl who had just a few credits. Lux distributors recommended the sexy French beauty…
  2. Simone Signoret, Casque d’Or, France,1951.   La Belle Epoque… and three French gangsters and an ex-con are smitten with the same whore. (Title refers to her “golden helmet” of blonde hair). A script was passed around from Henri-Georges Clouzot and Julien Duvivier to Jean Renoir and… well, Yves  Allégretwanted it for his wife, Signoret, to follow  their 1948 and 1949 triumphs, Dédée d’Anvers (another hooker) andManèges, 1949, Unfortunately for him, she’d left him for  Yves Montand, and  simply stopped work. The project landed with Jacques Becker. He  immediately called Simone. Non, non, too busy with the  love of her life. Becker  called back a few days later: OK, Simone, don’t worry, I’ve found a replacement – Martine Carol.  She was the sexy siren of the hour. Non, non, said Simone again, but when and where?  (Exactly as Becker had expectated).  A wonderful film, a bigger UK than French hit winning her the BAFTA Best Foreign Actress award and leading her to Room at the Top, which won her Best Actress at Cannes and an Oscar!  (Also ignored by the French. They don’t like being told who their stars were!).  After Allégret’s 1987 death, his and Simone’s daughter, actress , Catherine Allégret .found a Casque  d’Or script among  his papers, probably co-written, she though, with his usual collaborator Jacques Sigurd… who  would, ironically, write one of Martine Carol’s scandalous sexpots in 1953:  Lucrèce Borgia.
  3. Brigitte Bardot, Babette s’en va-t-en-guerre  (US: Babette Goes to War), France, 1958.   Like it or not, Carol – the top top French star since 1951 – had to had to surrender her WWII comedy andher director-husband Christian-Jacque to the erotic new siren known as BB a bigger star, indeed more globally renowned than Carol could no longer hope to be  as her career of “eloquent nudity” began its inevitable slide.  She was the fourth of six wives of Christian-Jacque, who knew she was toast when their allegedly Carole Lombardesque comedy, Nathalie, secret agent, 1959fell at the first post. They never worked or slept together again. She died of a heart attack before completing  her  50th and last film,  the Czech-UK Hell Is Empty, produced in 1965 by UK businessman Mike Eland, her fourth husband (a pal of the first, Steve Crane) but not released until after her death at 46 in 1967.  Bardot avoided  such a sad finish by jumping before she was pushed in 1973.
  4. Shirley MacLaine, Can-Can, 1959.  Producer Jack Cummings knew who he wanted. But not even his intended co-star, Frank Sinatra, could  persuade  Cary Grant  to partner Marilyn Monroe, or one of two top French stars – the theatre’s Zizi Jeanmaire and screen siren Martine Carol –  in the Cole Porter musical. Plus F Sinatra opposite Juliet Prowse –  very soon a  hot couple, until he ordered her to  quit showbiz!
  5. Rosanna Schiaffino, Il ratto delle sabine (US: Romulus and the Sabines), Italy-France-Yugoslavia, 1961.    The French superstar was ill. As shooting mainly took place in Rome, finding a new Venus was no problem. After the success of Gina Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren, Italian starlets like Schiaffino, and Loren’s often body double, Scilla Gabel (among the Sabine women) were as plentiful as apples in an orchard… One who  avoided finishing up as  the cinematic compote was Luisa Mattioli (as Silvia).  She wed the star, Roger Moore. He  played Romulus.  “The Warrior Who Founded Rome!”


 Birth year: 1922Death year: 1967Other name: Casting Calls:  5