Virna Lisi

  1. Brigitte Bardot, Tradita (US: Concert of Intrigue and later: Night of Love), Italy-France, 1955    .Veteran director Mario Bonnard wasn’t satisfied with Lisi and his assistant went off to an actors’ agency. He saw a real beauty leaving the office andfound she was in Rome while her husband assisted Marc Allegret on Eterna Femmina.He was Roger Vadm.She was BB. And Bonnard’s asistant was a certain Sergio Leone.And it was on his say-so that BB won Andraste in Helen of Troy when Leone was assisting Robert Wise later that year. (She should have been Helen!).
  2. Daniela Bianchi, From Russia With Love, 1963
  3. Michele Mercier, Angélique, Marquise des anges, France, 1964.   Realisateur Bernard Borderie tried everyone (Brigitte Bardot and all Vadim’s clones of her: Catherine Deneuve, Jane Fonda, Annette Strøyberg).None suspected the film would begat five more over the next four years.
  4. Rosanno Schiaffino, Arrivederci, Baby! 1966.     Virna  had already worked with Tony Curtis in  Not With My Wife,You Don’t, 1961,  and felt it was a little too soon to (basically) re-work her 1965  Hollywood debut,  How To Murder Your Wife.
  5. Jane Fonda, Barbarella, 1968.     Well, she had been Bardot’s replacement in How To Murder Your Wife, 1965…  The Italian beauty (newly blonded by the Wife writer George Axelrod and his wife) shredded  her United Artists contract when told her next film would be based on the Jean-Claude Forest comicbook – also refused (and, indeed, inspired) by BB.  “To star in a film like that was not my dream,” said Virna. “I always chose my roles with a terrible seriousness.  In Hollywood, they could sell you to the highest bidder.”
  6. Daliah Lavi, Some Girls Do, 1968.   UK producer Betty E Box  was trying to make up for her biggest error.  In the mid-60s, she confessed to me how  she turned down a book called… Casino Royale.  So now she was churning another Brit hero, an old WWI veteran, into a modern-day rival to 007(!).  Her two Bulldog Drummond movies were, basically, TV pilots. But The Man From UNCLE had cornered that telly-Bond market. Johnson, in fact, was Terence Young’s  main choice for 007at the start of it all – Dr No, 1962. He would have been awful if he was as glum as his Drummond.  Virna Lisi would have been fine. Israel’s Lavi, however, was a supremely perfect Bond Girl!
  7. Dominique Sanda, The Gardens of the Finzi-Contini, Italy, 1971.     Booked for $300,000 after her first five Hollywood ventures saw her worth rise from $15,000 to $200,000 a movie. 


 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  7