Seldom since the pagan days of old had so many pilgrims come trudging to the shrine of the Goddess of Fortune where it sits in pleasant ruins not far from Rome. But Fortuna was out of luck last week.
The pilgrims hustled past her premises and up the nearest mountain to the little (pop. 643) village of Castel San Pietro Romano. For there the rumor had it, a goddess enchantingly more substantial had suddenly come to earth among the amorous groves. Gina Lollobrigida (pronounced low-low-bridge-id-ah) was in town to make a movie.
And who is Gina? Hardly anywhere in the world today except in the U.S., could such a question be asked. In Europe she is the most famous seven syllables since "Come up and see me some time." She is the girl who, according to. Humphrey Bogart, "makes Marilyn Monroe look like Shirley Temple." She is the modern Italian (excluding politicians of course) who, according to Yugoslavia's Marshal Tito, has made the greatest impression on him. "She is the hottest thing in Europe today," says Moviemaker René Clair. In recent months she has become one of the world's most highly paid actresses (about $100,000 a picture). Last month she won the Silver Ribbon, the Italian equivalent of Hollywood's Oscar, as the "Best Actress of 1954" for her performance in Bread, Love and Dreams.
According to the famous photographer of women, Philippe Halsman, "she has the finest figure of any actress I have known." In Paris a new phrase (les lollos) is being used in brassiere advertisements. In Lon don Sir Jacob Epstein, the famed sculptor, has done a bust of Gina, and in Manhattan, Gossipist Walter Winchell has been gushing about the new "Lollopalooza."
In the U.S. a small but enthusiastic minority has seen Gina body out her bodice in the French-made Fanfan la Tulipe, show some charmingly unexpected dimples in the bath scene from Beauties of the Night (seen in full by the Queen of Britain, but sharply censored for U.S. moviegoers), and play her cheesecake for comedywith a side dish of macaronic Englishin John Huston's Beat the Devil.
Early next month, Gina, in the flesh, will appear at the Manhattan premiere of Bread, Love and Dreams. Some of Hollywood's shrewdest peddlers will be on hand for the great inspection. But to Hollywood, Gina Lollobrigida suggests trouble: she is the latest of a lot of disquieting portents borne on the trade winds from Italy.
New Hollywood. In recent months, the travelers' tales from Italy have unsettled many an expensive lunch at Chasen's and Romanoff's with visions that might have been flashbacks to the balmy days when Hollywood was in its sinfancy. Movie pro ducers, they said, were as common as cats in the Forum, and just about as noisy. Stars were demandingand gettingas much as $6,400 a day. As many as three pictures were being shot at once with the same cast. Directors were arrogantly demanding 800 horses for a single scene. Drinking orgies, studio spies and gorgeous villas with swimming pools were the rule of the day. The purple sports shirt had replaced the purple toga, and through the narrow vias where Nero's chariot had clanked, the Jaguars were prowling.