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April 22, 2006

Alida Valli 1921-2006



When people whose lives revolve around film talk about actresses, the name of Alida Valli usually does not come up. If she is remembered at all by Anglo-American film lovers, it is for her association with David O. Selznick who had hoped to create a new international star as he had done with Ingrid Bergman. Of the films produced or co-produced by Selznick, The Paradine Case is considered one of Alfred Hitchcock's lesser films, while The Third Man is almost thoroughly dominated by Orson Welles' mysterious character of Harry Lime.

Valli's filmography is a reminder of an actress who had roles in more good and great films with some of the great filmmakers. Valli was also in a good number of films from lesser directors, but that's the price of maintaining a constant career. Still, not too many actors have films by Visconti, Antonioni, Pontecorvo, Pasolini, Clement, Franju, Bertolucci, Argento, Bava and Chabrol on one resume.

In reviewing the Valli's filmography, I discovered that the first film I saw with her theatrically, is one of her more obscure films, The Castillian. A Spanish feature with English language stars Cesar Romero, Frankie Avalon and Broderick Crawford, this was a low-budget attempt at riding the coattails of the very successful El Cid. It's been over forty years since The Castillian came and went, so my memories of this film are vague. Rather than sticking out, Alida Valli's career could be seen as that of an actress who would more often immerse herself in a role and integrate herself as part of the ensemble. At the very least, Alida Valli provided a continuous link for almost seventy years of Italian cinema.

Posted by peter at April 22, 2006 06:22 PM


When I saw her obit in the paper today, I hoped somebody would pay online tribute to her. I only really know her from THE THIRD MAn, but I don't think she's completely overpowered. I still remember the great final scene where she walks past Joseph Cotten and keeps going and going and going....

Posted by: tlrhb at April 23, 2006 06:24 PM

The screen capture on top is from that scene in "The Third Man". That may be Valli's best remembered moment from all of her films.
The second screen capture is from "Suspiria".

Posted by: Peter Nellhaus at April 23, 2006 07:59 PM