Elsa Martinelli

  1. Odile Versois, Checkpoint,  1956.      Elsa and Gina Lollobrigida were asked to be the Italian  Francesca. For the Rank Oganisation, an accent was an accent was an accent.
  2. Jean Simmons, Spartacus, 1960.     Dropping the original Varinia, the star and producer Kirk Douglas cast around and called his 1955 Indian Fighter co-star in Rome. How would they explain her accent? Idem for Swedish Ingrid Bergman, German Sabine Bethmann, French Jeanne Moreau… and Audrey Hepburn. 
  3. Jeanne Moreau, Le Procès/The Trial,  France-Italy-West Germany-Yugoslavia, 1962. Orson Welles’ casting was suitably Kafkaian. He  had no idea who would be playing which female role. Welles had never met Romy. He simply cabled an offer – any part.
  4. Romy Schneider, Le Procès/The Trial,  France-Italy-West Germany-Yugoslavia,, 1962.       … Romy chose Leni  (which Elsa thought was hers) and fshe inally met Welles at the Paris Elysees-Matignon Club. He was with “an incredibly young” Marlene Dietrich, who told him: “Stop looking at that child.”  The mountain turned: “Hello, Leni.” Elsa had  another – fleeeting – role.
  5. Anouk Aimée, Un homme et une femme/A Man And A Woman, France, 1966.     Chabadaba-didn’t.
  6. Marisa Mell, Diabolik (US: Danger: Diabolik), Italy-France, 1967.      Before being dropped as the the 1962 comic-book anti-hero – totally unknown in America – the French Jean Sorel had tested several possibilities for who became John Phillip Law’s leading lady: Martinelli, Nathalie Delon, Catherine Deneuve, etc. Marisa Mell got the gig. No hard feelings… A year later,  all three – Martinelli, Mell and Sorel – co-starred in Lucio Fulci’s  Una sull’altra (US: Perversion Story, aka Hot To Trot).

      (Clic to enlarge)  
      The deadly duo that never was…  Elsa Martinelli and Jean Sorel as Eva Kant and Diabolik – before director Mario Bava switched the Italian comicbook anti-heroes into Marisa Mell and John Phillip Law.
    © Dino De Laurentiis Cinematografica/Marianne Productions/Paramount Pictures, 1967.


7. – Isabelle De Funès, Baba Yaga (UK: The Devil Witch, US: Baba Yaga, Devil Witch), Italy-France, 1973.  “I wanted Elsa Martinelli for Valentina – maybe ten years younger,” revealed director Corrado Farina. “She was the actress who most closely resembled Guido Crepax’s cartoon images of Valentina, who, in her turn, was inspired by Louise Brooks in her Pabst films.”For co-productions reasons, Isabelle De Funès(niece of the over-rated French stutter-mutter-nutter comic Louis De Funès) was chosen from a photo – “which didn’t resemble the Isabelle I met at the airport. But with make-up and Valentina’s wig – and Isabelle being a very good actress – I decided she was better than Italian Stefania Casini.”A third test, of Ely Galleani was catastrophic. But due to her “physical aspect,”she was unanimously perfect for Annette, a dominatrix-cum-killer doll. “I asked her agent if she’d do nudity. ‘You won’t be able to stop her’!”

 Birth year: 1935Death year: 2017Other name: Casting Calls:  5