Sunday, September 4, 2011

Weekend Reading 17: Italian Films in the 1960s by John Phillips

Weekend Reading for you from RARE vintage... Read on...

My husband's grandfather, John Phillips, was a LIFE Photographer back in the day and by the day, I mean The Day.  Back when LIFE magazine was founded in the 1930s.  John Phillips apprenticed with Man Ray, was there for the scandalous abdication of King Edward the VIII so he could marry the American divorcee Wallis Simpson, befriended Antoine de Saint Exupery and was the last photographer to document Saint Exupery's final flight before he disappeared.  He photographed Cecil Beaton, Elsa Schiaparelli, Coco Chanel, the entire Italian Royal Family before scandal struck and they were forced out of Italy.   He spent time with Lee Miller during World War II and Tito in Yuogslavia, King Farouk of Egypt as well as photographing the siege of Jerusalem in 1948.

In the early 1960s, post LIFE magazine, John Phillips spent time in Rome photographing the film stars, directors and writers who would revolutionize as well as reinvigorate post war Italian Cinema.

Italian Films by John Phillips

Sophia Loren:

Vittorio de Sica who made the classic films 'Bicycle Thief' and 'Umberto D' also made one of the episodes in one of my favorite Italian films, 'Bocaccio 70'.  Sophia Loren stars as a maid in a small hotel who holds a lottery.  The winner of the lottery gets to go bed with her - so you can just imagine how many tickets were sold!  

Photos courtesy of the John and Anna Maria Phillips Foundation

John Phillips: To add to the reality, De Sica chose as Loren's leading man a sturdy young man from the village.  After the shooting I asked Za (De Sica) about the man's future, since he obviously had none in films.  "Can he ever get over having had Sophia Loren in his arms?" I asked.  Za pointed out with local pride that the young man was Emilian.  All the girls in the village would assume he had an affair with Loren.  All will go to bed with him and he will be very happy.  Intrigued, I asked what if he had been a Roman?  'He would boast all over town that he had slept with Loren' Za replied.  He added if he had been a Neopolitan he'd photgraph his sister naked, put Loren's head on the body and sell the postcards and if he was a Sicilian, Za replied, completing his characterization of the Italian male, 'He would never get over it.'

Italian Films by John Phillips at the New York Design Center Gallery.
200 Lexington Avenue
Through September 10th 2011

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