Monday, 18 April 2011

Anna Magnani

Ever since seeing Rome, Open City (1945) I have been enamoured with the visceral acting style of Anna Magnani. Born in Rome, Italy in 1908 she was brought up by her maternal grandmother in a poverty stricken home. Anna made her way through Rome's Academy of Dramatic Art, at the time she made a living by singing in nightclubs and cabarets. 

How can you not love this face?

She had small parts in a number of films until she reached critical success, which was in 'Rome, Open City' directed by Roberto Rossellini, the first Italian neo-realist film to have success commercially. If you haven't already I urge you to see Rome,Open City, it's set during the Nazi occupation in Rome, and focuses on the struggle the resistance fighters go through and how it affects the people around them. 

Anna married Goffredo Alessandrini in the 1930's, but the marriage did not last and was annulled. She had an affair with Italian matinée idol Massimo Serato, which resulted in a son, her only child, who unfortunately suffered from polio and Anna dedicated herself to caring for him. Anna and Roberto Rosselini had an affair after Rome,Open City for a number of years, that is until he met Ingrid Bergman, and I am sure you know what happened there! 

Meeting Joan Crawford

She is one of the few actresses/actors from the past, I feel has a contemporary acting style, she is not twee or glamourous. She is provocative, emotive and doesn't give a damn.  Bellissima (1951), is a personal favourite of mine. She plays a mother determined to get her cute daughter into a film, no matter what the cost. 

Anna in Bellissima with her daughter
The Rose Tattoo (1955) was Anna's first foray into Hollywood, written by Tennessee Williams, with Anna in mind. She won  an Oscar for her portrayal of an over-bearing mother, who is grief stricken at the loss of her no good husband. She starred alongside Burt Lancaster, whose performance in this confuses some what. If you have seen it, please explain to me what his character is supposed to be?!

She scrubs up well!

Anna went on to star in film and television until her death in 1973, I need to see more of her films, she is the kind of actress you just cannot take your eyes off, she is so passionate you become besotted with her and her troubles. I need to see all of her work, it's food for the soul.

Images found herehereherehere.


  1. I must admit I had not heard of her. Thanks for this post! Makes me eager to see some of these films!

  2. My pleasure, I think the rose tattoo is still up on youtube x

  3. Oh I have Bellissima on dvd for a while now but for some reason I never watched it, I totally forgot about it! I think I'll watch it one of these days! :)