CINE REVUE, AUGUST 1957

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CINE REVUE, AUGUST 1957


From the August 1957 issue of “Cine Revue” (France) comes the following interview and photo spread, and thanks go to Ken Galente for finding this for us.

Two new items of information come out of this article – the first is that this is only the second mention of the film The Red and the Black we’ve ever seen. The first mention appeared only once, in a printed filmography, without any further information about it, and, although we’ve been systematically checking the casting lists of ALL films with that title, we never found one that would have matched the time frame (or the country of origin) during the earlier stages of Rossano’s career. This also gave us a date (1947), and a co-star (Valentina Cortese) – and, after several years of languishing at the end of the filmography, with a “?” after it, we can now move the film to the main body of the filmography as yet another of Rossano’s films we were never quite sure wasn’t anything more than a typographical error.

Another item goes into the “Stage Work” list … actor Renato Rascel mentions his fond memory of seeing Rossano perform onstage at the Odeon Theater in Milan, in “Premier Interlude” with Adreina Pagnani, in 1946.

On another level, the interview and story is rather bittersweet … this was conducted after Rossano had been hired to star in South Pacific, but before he learned that his singing voice was going to be dubbed by Giorgio Tozzi. His overwhelming exuberance at playing the role of (and singing the songs of) Emile de Beque in South Pacific shines through this article, which includes an assessment of his voice and singing ability made by his singing instructor. He and Lidia are throwing a party in Rome, prior to his departure for America, and Hawaii. The text has been translated from the French, which is also included.

A few of the accompanying photographs are new, and we did the best we could to reproduce them – one of my favorites is the “balcony” scene – Rossano and a circle of friends on the balcony of his apartment … you don’t often see him caught unawares and in the midst of a genuine burst of unbridled laughter as you do in this photo.


A Titre de Revanche: Rossano Brazzi conjure le mauvais sort en faisant à Hollywood une rentrée en beauté

“Rossano Brazzi vient d’arriver à Hollywood, où l’appellent à la fois un contrat merveilleux et un rôle de classe: celui du planteur français dans South Pacific. C’est l’une des plus importantes productions de la nouvelle saison. Ce sera donc une sorte de revanche, de revanche amicale car Rossano ignore l’amertume, pour celui qui, il y a dix ans,partait à la conquête des studios américains avec une confiance qui devait être cruellement déçue. Il a fallu des films comme La Fontaine des Amours, La Comtesse aux Pieds Nus, Vacances à Venise, Interlude, L’Histoire d’Esther Costello et Legend of the Lost, pour faire de cet Italien de quarante ans une nouvelle “vedette américaine de premier plan.

Dans un bel appartement du plus élégant quartier de Rome, Rossano Brazzi a dit adieu à ses amis italiens et à quelques-uns des acteurs et metteurs en scène américains actuellement en Italie. Le lendemain, il partait pour Le Havre avec sa femme Lydia et ses deux chiens porte-bonheur, afin de s’embarquer à destination de l’Amérique. Il y a été accueilli par le metteur en scène Joshua Logan et, sous sa direction, a commencé les répétitions de South Pacific, tiré de la célèbre opérette de Rodgers et Hammerstein. Des milliers d’Américains ont vu South Pacific à Broadway; où, pendant six années consécutives, le regretté Enzo Pinza y obtint un très grand succès. Ce sera, naturellement, un grand film musical et Rossano Brazzi y chantera.

Ce fut une très belle réunion, cordiale, intime, sympathique, au cours de laquelle Rossano et Lydia déployèrent au grand complet toutes les armes de la séduction et de la gentillesse. En arrivant, chacun des invités fut paré d’un collier d’oeillets multicolores.

“Pourquoi ce collier?” a demandé Rock Hudson, qui a maigri depuis son arrivée en Italie où il termine A Farewell to Arms.

“C’est un avant-goût des guirlandes de fleurs d’Hawai, où nous séjournerons dans quelques semaines”, a répondu Lydia Brazzi. C’est là que Rossano doit tourner les extérieurs de South Pacific.

“Comme je t’envie”, a dit Gino Cervi, l’inoubliable Peppone de Don Camillo, à Rossano. “Pendant que tu feras le beau planteur français dans une île paradisiaque, moi j’irai tourner dans une Madrid presque déserte et y suffoquer de chaleur.

“Je t’enverrai des cartes postales”, a promis Rossano en riant.

Et comme je le complimente de son allure plus que jamais séduisant dans son magnifique complet gris, il m’explique:

“Je dois porter haut le drapeau de l’élégance italienne. Je me suis fait faire toute une nouvelle garde-robe pour l’Amérique.”

“Et les costumes du film?”

“Je les ai fait faire ici. Je préfère de toute façon la coupe italienne, et je pense que c’est la plus indiquée pour mon nouveau rôle de séducteur.”

“Vous aimez ces rôles?”

“Beaucoup”, me répond-il. “Je pense qu’être amoureux est une sensation magnifique et que réussir à plaire à la femme choisie est la plus belle victoire qu’un homme puisse remporter.”

Dans South Pacific, Rossano luttera et vaincra pour l’amour de Mitzi Gaynor. Une nouvelle experience pour celui qui a déjà séduit tant de belles et grandes vedettes, de Katharine Hepburn à Joan Crawford, de Valentina Cortese à Danielle Darrieux, en passant par Ava Gardner, Jean Peters, Glynis Johns, Anna Magnani, June Allyson et Silvana Pampanini.

“Inquiet?” lui demande-t-on.

“Non, pourquoi? J’adore les jolies femmes et Mitzi Gaynor est terriblement jolie. J’espère que nous nous entendrons bien et que nous serons bons amis.”

Pour ce film, un budget de douze millions de dollars est déjà prévu.

“Comment feront-ils pour dépenser tant d’argent?”, s’est exclamé Rossano. Il est vrai que le tournage durera cinq mois, deux à Hawaii et trois à Hollywood pour les intérieurs.

Cela s’explique peut-être aussi par le fait que le film sera tourné en Todd-AO expérimenté avec Le Tour du monde en 80 jours.

De Piazza Navona, où il tourne en ce moment Les Sept Collines de Rome, avec Mario Lanza, Renato Rascel arrive en courant et, souriant en essoufflé, se jette dans les bras de Rossano.

“J’ai cru ne pas pouvoir venir te saluer, Rossanc, et j’en aurais été désolé. Cela me fait de la peine de voir partir un bon ami, mais je suis heureux pour toi de ce film. C’est un beau rôle et tu le mérites. Depuis que je t’ai vu à l’Odéon de Milan, en 1946, jouer “Premier Interlude” avec Adreina Pagnani, je suis convaincu que tu es un des plus grands parmi nous.”

“Je suis vraiment ému,” m’a dit Rossano. “Seul un grand bonhomme comme Rascel pouvait sentir cela. Ce rôle au théâtre est mon souvenir le plus cher. C’était un rôle difficile et Lydia elle-même – savez-vous qu’elle est mon critique le plus sévère? – reconnait que c’est ce que j’ai fait de mieux.

D’autres amis arrivent, coupant court à les souvenirs nostalgiques: Charles Vidor, qui dirige A Farewell to Arms, Joseph Mankiewicz qui vient de terminer Un Américain Tranquille, Rossana Rory, Alba Arnova et tant d’autres.

Au milieu du salon, modestement assise dans l’angle d’un canapé, une jeune femme fait les gros yeux à Rossano Brazzi qui allume une nouvelle cigarette. Il me la présente:

“Madame Magneti, mon professeur de chant.”

Car, dans South Pacific, Rossano ne sera pas doublé du tout et il interprètera lui-même toutes les chansons de son rôle. J’ai demandé à Madame Magneti ce qu’elle pensait de Rossano Brazzi chanteur.

“Rossano a une très belle voix de baryton, qu’il a eu grand tort, car il a d’énormes possibilités, de ne pas cultiver davantage et de voiler avec ses maudites cigarettes. Au début, j’avais peur de m’être ainsi engagée. Nous avons beaucoup travaillé ces derniers mois et Rossano a vraiment été un élève extrèmement consciencieux: il s’y est mis avec un tel sérieux et une telle ardeur que je n’ai plus peur. Je sais qu’il est en condition d’interpréter lui-même les chansons de South Pacific, et qu’il le fera bien.

C’est la troisième fois au cours de sa longue carrière que Rossane Brazzi s’attaque au chant. La premire fois, c’était à Florence où il étudait le droit et, pendant ses loisirs, faisait partie du choeur de l’école comme ténor léger. La seconde fois, ce fut dans le film Le Rouge et le Noir, qu’il tourna en 1947 avec Valentina Cortese.

Peut-être cette troisième fois changera-t-elle la carrière de Rossano? En effet, il s’est déjà mis d’accord avec Madame Magneti pour reprendre leurs leçons en décembre, quand il rentrera de cette Californie qui, après l’avoir appelé une première fois – c’était en 1948 et le seul film qu’il y tourna fut Les Quatre Filles du Dr March, l’oublia. Mais, depuis, beaucoup d’eau a passé sous les ponts et Rossano, redécouvert par le cinéma américain et réclamé comme partenaires par ses plus grandes stars, n’a jamais été plus populaire. S’il réussit la gageure que lui propose – South Pacific – le séducteur héroïque de ses premiers films et le séducteur romantique de ses récents feront peut-être place au séducteur lyrique. Et ce sera une nouvelle métamorphose triomphale pour un comédien qui prouve que quarante ans est vraiment l’âge idéal pour les plus belles conquêtes.


An Example In Revenge: Rossano Brazzi Prevails Over Bad Luck By Returning to Hollywood in Glory

Rossano Brazzi has just arrived in Hollywood, where a marvelous contract and a world class role await him: the role of the French planter in South Pacific. It is one of the most important productions of the new season. It will therefore be a sort of revenge for him, a friendly revenge because Rossano is not given to bitterness, for it was ten years ago that he left to conquer the American movie studios with confidence, only to be cruelly disappointed. It took movies such as Three Coins In The Fountain, The Barefoot Contessa, Summertime, Interlude, The Story of Esther Costello and Legend of the Lost, to make of this 40 year old Italian a first-rate “new” American star.

In a beautiful apartment in the most elegant district of Rome, Rossano Brazzi said farewell to his Italian friends and some of the actors and American producers then in Italy. The following day, he left for Le Havre with his wife, Lydia, and their two dogs, in order to sail towards America. He has been welcomed there by the producer Joshua Logan and, under his direction, has begun filming South Pacific, based on the famous musical of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Thousands of Americans saw South Pacific on Broadway; where, during six consecutive years, the late Enzo Pinza enjoyed an enormous success. It will be, naturally, a big musical movie and Rossano Brazzi will sing [in it].

It was a very beautiful gathering, cordial and friendly, during which Rossano and Lydia welcomed their guests with a lovely and thoughtful array of gifts. Each arriving guest was decorated with a multicolored floral necklace.

“Why this necklace?” asked Rock Hudson, who has gotten thinner since his arrival in Italy where he is finishing a Farewell to Arms.

“It’s a foretaste of the garlands of flowers in Hawaii, where we will be staying in a few weeks”, answered Lydia Brazzi. It is there that Rossano must film the outdoor scenes of South Pacific.

“How I envy you!”, said Gino Cervi, the unforgettable Peppone of Don Camillo, to Rossano. “While you are being the handsome French planter on a heavenly island, I will be leaving to make a film in desolate Madrid and to suffocate of heat.”

“I will send you post cards”, promised Rossano, laughing.

And as I congratulate him on his style, more attractive than ever in his magnificent gray suit, he explains to me:

“I must carry the bold flag of Italian elegance. I had an all new wardrobe for America made for myself.”

“But won’t you be wearing costumes in the movie”?

“I made them make [my movie wardrobe] here. I prefer the Italian cut anyway, and I think it is needed for new role as a seducer.”

“Do you like these roles?”

“A lot.” he answers me. “I think that being in love is a magnificent sensation, and that to succeed in being pleasing to one’s chosen woman is the most beautiful victory that a man can have.”

In South Pacific, Rossano will fight and will defeat for the love of Mitzi Gaynor. A new experience for one who has already seduced so many beautiful and big stars, from Katharine Hepburn to Joan Crawford, from Valentina Cortese to Danielle Darrieux – not to mention Ava Gardner, Jean Peters, Glynis John, Anna Magnani, June Allyson and Silvana Pampanini.

“Are you worried?” I ask him.

“No, why? I adore pretty women and Mitzi Gaynor is awfully pretty. I hope that we will get along well and that we will be good friends.”

For this movie, a budget of twelve million dollars is already expected.

“How will they spend so much money?” exclaims Rossano. It is true that the filming will last five months, two in Hawaii and three in Hollywood for interior filming. The cost might also be explained by the fact that the movie will be filmed in Todd-AO, already used in Around The World In 80 Days.

In the Piazza Navona, where The Seven Hills of Rome, with Mario Lanza, is now showing, Renato Rascel arrives at that moment, breathless from running and, smiling, throws himself Rossano’s arms.

“I thought I wouldn’t be able to come to greet you, Rossano, and I would have been very upset. It pains me to see a good friend leave, but I am happy for you being in this movie. It is a beautiful role and you deserve it. Since I saw you in the Odéon of Milan in 1946, to play ” First Interlude” with Adreina Pagnani, I am convinced that you are one of biggest among us”.

“I am moved indeed”, said Rossano to me. “Only a big fellow as Rascel could sense that. That role in the theater is my dearest memory. It was it a difficult role and Lydia herself – you know yourselves she is my sternest critic? – recognizes that it is what made me a better [actor].” Other friends arrive, cutting short the nostalgic memories: Charles Vidor, directing A Farewell to Arms, Joseph Mankiewicz who has just finished The Quiet American, Rossana Rory, Alba Arnova and so many others.

In the middle of the lounge, modestly seated in a corner of a sofa, is a young woman intently watching as Rossano Brazzi lights a new cigarette. He presents her to me:

“Mrs. Magneti, my singing professor”.

Because, in South Pacific, Rossano won’t be doubled at all and will interpret all of the songs in his role I asked Mrs. Magneti what she thought of Rossano Brazzi, the singer.

“That Rossano has a very beautiful baritone voice, and that he was wrong, given his enormous possibilities, not to cultivate it further and to veil his voice with his cursed cigarettes. In the beginning, I was afraid to be hired as his coach. We have worked a lot these last months and Rossano was indeed a extremely, highly conscientious. He approached his lessons with such seriousness and such ardor that I am not afraid anymore. I know that he is in condition to interpret the songs of South Pacific himself, and that he will do it well.

This is the third time during his long career that Rossano Brazzi has used his singing. The first time was in Florence where he studied the law and during his free time, was a part of the school choir as light tenor. The second time, it was in the movie The Red and the Black, that he filmed in 1947 with Valentina Cortese.

Will this third time perhaps change Rossano’s career? Indeed, he already got approval with Mrs. Magneti to continue their lessons in December, when he will return to this California that, after having called him a first time – it was in 1948 and the only movie that he filmed there was Little Women — then forgot him. But, since then, a lot of water has passed under the bridge and Rossano, rediscovered by the American movies and asked to co-star with bigger and bigger stars, was never more popular. If he succeeds in South Pacific – the heroic seducer of his first movies and the romantic seducer of hid more recent films will perhaps make room for the lyrical seducer.

And it will be another new triumphal metamorphosis for an actor who proves that forty years are indeed the ideal age for the most beautiful conquests.


How accurate was this article? Not very, as Rossano’s former agent, Gene Lerner, was quick to point out.


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