Movies Abroad: Much Woman

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(See Cover) Her feet are too big. Her nose is too long. Her teeth are uneven. She has the neck, as one of her rivals has put it, of "a Neapolitan giraffe." Her waist seems to begin in the middle of her thighs, and she has big, half-bushel hips. She runs like a fullback. Her hands are huge.

Her forehead is low. Her mouth is too large. And, mamma mia, she is absolutely gorgeous.

By her own description, Sophia Loren is "a unity of many irregularities." She has rewritten the canons of beauty. A daughter of the Bay of Naples, she has within her the blood of the Saracens, Spaniards, Normans, Byzantines and Greeks. The East appears in her slanting eyes. Her dark brown hair is a bazaar of rare silk. Her legs talk. In her impish, ribald Neapolitan laughter, she epitomizes the Capriccio Italien that Tchaikovsky must have had in mind. Lord Byron, in her honor, probably sits up in his grave about once a week and rededicates his homage to "Italia! oh, Italia! thou who hast the fatal gift of beauty." Vogue Magazine once fell to its skinny knees and abjectly admitted: "After Loren, bones are boring."

New Template. Catherine de' Medici decreed that women should strive for a waist measurement of 13 inches. Sophia Loren sets the template now—38-24-38.

She is what the Spaniards call "much woman" and the French "une femme plantureuse." Italians once called Gina Lollobrigida "La Gina Nazionale." They now call Sophia Loren "La Sophia Seducènte." They prefer the seductress. Gina was, in their curious view, too refined. Sophia, they say, is a woman of the people, their dònna popolana.

Her body is a mobile of miscellaneous fruits and melons, and her early career was largely a matter of putting them on display. But Sophia no longer leans forward for just any passing Leica. "Some day," she says with the earnestness of a starlet, "I hope that everyone will say I am a great actress and I will be remembered for that." In Sophia's case, the critics are beginning to take the statement with some seriousness. Two months ago, the New York film critics named her 1961's best actress. Next week at the Academy Award ceremonies in Hollywood, Sophia will arrive swathed in a black and white Dior gown and a blanket of nervous tension.

For her performance in Vittorio De Sica's Two Women, she has been nominated as the "Best Actress of 1961." She is the first person ever nominated for a top Oscar for a performance in a foreign-language film.

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