Review: Sophia Loren: Movie Star Italian Style

Happy birthday, Sophia Loren! Out September 26 from Running Press and TCM, Sophia Loren: Movie Star Italian Style by Cindy De La Hoz is an image-laden coffee-table-style book about the woman Charlton Heston referred to as “the only honest-to-God international movie star.” The book starts with a brief biography of Loren, then goes into capsule summaries and nuggets of behind-the-scenes info for nearly all of her credited roles, with special emphasis on her Italian productions. This comprehensive listing of her films will likely spur further viewing for many readers.

And by “image-laden,” I mean there are gorgeous and interesting photos, rare posters, and/or candids on almost literally every page. The book features movie taglines, pull quotes from reviews and from Loren herself about her friends and co-workers, and comments from them about her.

If there is a thread running through all of it, it seems to be that her exquisite physical being was almost a detriment that she had to overcome to gain respect for her equally extraordinary talent, particularly when she arrived in Hollywood in the late 1950s. But overcome it she did, as the reviews from most of her 1960s and 1970s American work show. And she is one of the very few actors to win an Academy Award for a foreign-language film, capturing the prize for the harrowin Two Women (1960). A parallel theme is her intense desire for “a legitimate family,” the understandable result of her father abandoning Sophia, her mother and her younger sister, and the sisters’ miserable upbringing during World War II.

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Printed on heavy matte stock, with custom endpapers and a stunning cover, the attraction of this book is definitely the pictures and the fascinating survey of her life and work. It serves as a perfect introduction — and probable gateway drug — to the career of one of the most beautiful and talented actresses the world has ever known.

Sophia Loren: Movie Star Italian Style by Cindy De La Hoz
(Tons of) full-color and black-and-white photos.
264 pp. Running Press. $35.


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