Friday, November 13, 2015

Insults sour the sweet life

I enjoy reading the British movie magazine Cinema Retro, which focuses on films from the 1960s and 1970s. That was a great period in movies, at least for people my age. We never seem to tire of the music of our youth or the movies of our youth, and Cinema Retro revisits those old films in amazing detail. The current issue, for example, devotes 12 pages to The Bridge at Remagen (and this article is to be continued in the next issue) and six pages to La Dolce Vita, both films released in 1960.

Reading the latter article, I was struck by some of the negative comments made at the time about the stars of the movie. Marcello Mastroianni learned that director Federico Fellini had chosen him for the part  because he wanted "an ordinary face." Paul Newman was once considered for the lead role, so the comment credited to Fellini may not have been true. Just the same, it stung Mastroianni, who probably thought he had anything but an ordinary face.

As for Anita Ekberg, the star most of us remember from that film, she was told "they didn't need acting ability for that kind of role." So maybe Ekberg wasn't the greatest actress of her era, but she was great in that role. Still the comment hurt her. Maybe it prompted her to do better. But perhaps it didn't.

Fellini underscored the insult at a press conference after completion of the film when he told reporters Ekberg's talent lay in her bust. The actress got her revenge when she told the press, "It was I who made Fellini, not the other way round." I had forgotten Fellini directed the movie, but I'll never forget Anita Ekberg. So perhaps she was right, and perhaps he was, too.

How many times have we all heard and repeated the old adage "if you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all"?  And how often have we all ignored it?

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