© 2024. Randolph Hub. All Rights Reserved.


Gina Lollobrigida

Mr. Movie: Remembering Gina Lollobrigida

 She is nearly forgotten now, but she was once called “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World.” Gina Lollobrigida died recently at the great age of 95. She had an up and down movie career but it included some notable roles.


Already a staple of Italian flicks, she was hardly known in America until she got her shot in a major Hollywood movie. Trapeze (1956) is about a high-flying romantic triangle. Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster are the male roles and Gina is Lola, the female flyer. Lancaster is the old pro, broken and battered by falls. He is seen in some flashbacks and Burt did most of the tricks himself. The other two did not. Tony plays Tino Orsini, the hotshot up-and-comer who wants the old pro to teach him the triple. Gina is Lola, also a trapeze artist and definitely eye candy. 


That same year Gina landed the star role in the classic Hunchback of Notre Dame. She is the sultry and beautiful gypsy Esmerelda and the misshapen bell ringer Quasimodo (Anthony Quinn) is besotted with her. She has been labelled a witch and in great danger. Quasimodo tries to save her and flees with her to the cathedral. The villagers in a misguided attempt to rescue her from the hunchback storm the castle and pepper it with arrows. There are several versions of this story on film. This one is truest to Victor Hugo’s novel. 


Gina is the queen herself in Solomon and Sheba (1959). This is one of those biblical epics so popular in the ’50s and ’60s. This one is not within shouting distance of the Bible story, but has lots of good battles and the gorgeous Gina on display. And — it has Yul Brynner with hair!


In Hotel Paradiso (1966), Gina is Marcelle Cotte, neglected wife (!) of building inspector Henri (Robert Morley). As her husband inspects Hotel Paradiso, she takes the opportunity to have an affair with Benedict Boniface (Alec Guiness). Inspector Cotte was sent to the hotel because of several reports of ghosts. This turned out to be faulty drains, but the by-the-hour hotel still provided a great opportunity for several trysts. 


Llollobrigida’s last major role is quite a good one. She has the title role in Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell (1968). She plays an Italian woman who has slept with three different American soldiers during the occupation of Italy right after WWII. When she finds she is pregnant, she is completely unsure which of the GIs is the father. She convinces each one — played by Peter Lawford. Phil Silvers and Telly Savalas — to support “his” daughter Gia. The whole cast is somehow united when there is a reunion of the soldiers’ outfit in Italy. Does this sound at all familiar? Yeah, it sounds a lot like Mamma Mia (2008). The authors of the latter film deny there is any connection. Yeah, right ...


Gina Lollobrigida can also be seen to advantage in Beat The Devil (1953), Never So Few (1959) and Stuntman (1968).


All of the films in this article are available on DVD. All are really OK for littlies, factoring in possible boredom with the adult themes.