Photographs by John P. Walsh
By John P. Walsh.
Carolina Crescentini is an Italian film and television actress who has appeared in more than 20 films since 2006. Born in Rome in 1980 (April 18) Carolina grew up in the elegant Monteverde Vecchio district. Not unlike Grace Kelly of Philadelphia, Carolina wanted to become an actress from an early age and studied and worked diligently in the craft. Carolina attended Italian acting schools including the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia – or, The Center for Experimental Cinematography. This Italian institution hosts a national film archives (Cineteca Nazionale) as well as one of Italy’s most prestigious film acting schools (Scuola Nazionale di Cinema). Soon after, Carolina began her acting career in television commercials and short films and music videos. The blonde beauty whose stage presence is similar to Kate Hudson and whose fashion savvy is like Chloë Sevigny got her first big break in films from another Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia alumni – Fausto Brizzi. It was in the sequel to Brizzi’s 2006 film Notte prima degli esami (The Night Before The Exams) which was a film phenomenon in Italy making around 15 million euros and winning a David di Donatello Award (the Italian Oscar) and several other awards. In Brizzi’s 2007 hit Italian teen comedy Notte prima degli esami – Oggi (The Night Before The Exams – Today), Carolina Cresentini plays Azzurra, the love interest of the main character. Where Brizzi’s 2006 teen comedy is set in Rome in 1989, the 2007 sequel which featured many of the same actors in the same roles—with the addition, of course, of Carolina Crescentini— it is set in the summer 2006 as Italy played for the World Cup which they won that year. Brizzi’s sequel and Carolina’s first major film was an even bigger hit than the original. Even the French film industry made a version of Notte prima degli esami calling it Nos 18 ans and featuring French teenagers set in 1989.
This is the pillow fight scene in Fausto Brizzi’s sequel Notte Prima degli esamei – Oggi where Nicolas Vaporidis as Luca and Carolina Cresecentini as Azzura first meet. A box office smash in Italy, it was Carolina Crescentini’s first major film and started her on the road to stardom. In Italian. (3.22 minutes).
Within the year of her first major film Carolina immediately co-starred with Italian star Nicolas Vaporidis to make Cemento armato (Concrete Romance), a 2007 Italian neo-noir thriller directed by Marco Martani. Crescentini’s dramatic performance as Asia, a rape victim, earned her a Best Actress nomination at the prestigious Nastro d’Argento (Silver Ribbon) Awards. In 2008, Carolina was nominated for a David di Donatello Award for Best Supporting Actress playing Benedetta, a fragile and spoiled rich beauty pursued by Silvio Muccino in Parlami d’amore (Speak to me of love). The film became another smash hit in Italy that year.
This is the trailer for Cemento armato. In a role that earned her a Best Actress nomination at the Nastro d’Argento awards in 2008, the blonde beauty Carolina Crescentini wears her hair dark which matches this film’s often violent character. In Italian (1.27 minutes).
A scene from Carolina Crescentini’s third film Parlami d’amore (Speak to me of love) in a role which led to her being nominated for a David di Donatello Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her co-star is Silvio Muccino. (2:34 minutes).
Carolina made films where her roles were smaller but memorable such as playing Anna in veteran Italian director Giuliano Montaldo’s I demoni di San Pietroburgo (The Demons of St. Petersburg) a bio-pic about Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky. With a soundtrack by prolific Ennio Morricone, Carolina said her experience for this 2008 film on location in Russia was very beautiful.
The trailer is from The Demons of St. Petersburg which was one of Carolina Crescentini’s favorite films to work on. It is a biopic of Fyodor Dostoyevsky shot on location in Russia featuring an all-star international cast. (1:41 minutes).
In 2010 Carolina’s body of work was further recognized by winning the Giuseppe De Santis Award for Best Female Newcomer and the Giffoni Award at that venerable international children’s film festival. In 2011 Carolina won the people’s choice Ciak D’Oro award for Best Supporting Actress playing Corinna in the 2011 Italian comedy film Boris-Il Film based on the popular Italian TV series of the same name.
From Boris-Il Film (58 seconds):
Excerpt from a trailer for the 2009 Italian comedy film Oggi sposi (Just Married) directed by Luca Lucini. Carolina plays Glada in a movie about a reformed ladies’ man who has his heart set on marrying the daughter of the Indian ambassador. (56 seconds):
In the 2011 award-winning drama film The Entreprenuer (L’Industriale), Carolina worked again with director Giuliano Montaldo. It follows the story of a businessman facing extreme challenges to make his enterprises successful. A press event with the director and cast (4:07 minutes) is followed by a clip featuring Carolina Crescentiti and Pierfrancesco Favino in a scene from the Italian Golden Globes Best Film (:31 minutes):
In addition to regular work in many Italian TV series and movies including the series I bastardi di Pizzofalcone (2017) and movie Donne:Pucci (2016), Carolina Crescentini is a fashion icon in Italy wearing many designs by prestigious fashion houses, both old and new, Italian and international. Carolina has appeared on many magazine covers including rather famously, her shoot for Playboy in May 2010, Carolina said that in some shots she can’t recognize herself and chalking it up to “Photoshop.”
Carolina’s most recent film work includes Tempo instabile con probabili schiarite (Partly Cloudy with Sunny spells), a 2015 Italian comedy about business partners who find oil on their land at the same time their furniture factory is going out of business. Carolina plays Elena, the wife of the lead. She also appeared in the discomfiting satiric film called Pecore in erba (The Sheep in the Meadow, a.k.a. Burning Love) written and directed by Alberto Caviglia which debuted at the Venice Film Festival in 2015. Also in 2015 Carolina worked once again with veteran Italian film directors— this time it was the brothers Taviani in their wry Maraviglioso Boccaccio (Wonderous Boccaccio) based on vignettes from the fourteenth centuryThe Decameron. Both the book and the film premiered in Florence – although by different authors six centuries apart.
Trailer for the witty and wry 2015 film Maraviglioso Boccaccio directed by veteran Italian film directors Paolo and Vittorio Taviani (1:34 minutes):
A humorous scene from Maraviglioso Boccaccio featuring Carolina Crescentini as Isabetta, a wayward novice. Also featured is Paola Cortellesi as the convent’s hypocritical superior. (3.02 minutes):
Text ©John P. Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system.
To be continued….
Text by John P. Walsh.
Here are some famous and rarely seen photographs of Philadelphia-born Grace Kelly (1929-1982) before and during her short but dazzling film career in Hollywood. Called the “Greatest Screen Presence in Film,”1 passionate and dramatically talented Grace Kelly was Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite actress when she starred in three of his classic films of the 1950’s: Dial M For Murder (1954), Rear Window (1954) and To Catch a Thief (1955). After Grace was discovered in 1951 by Gary Cooper who said that she was “different from all these actresses we’ve been seeing so much of”2—and subsequently cast in High Noon (1951) as Cooper’s movie wife—Grace Kelly’s incomparable charm and allure swiftly impressed Hollywood and the world. From September 1951 to March 1956 Grace Kelly’s star blazed in eleven major motion pictures for five different Hollywood studios. Following High Noon for United Artists, her performance for M-G-M on John Ford’s Mogambo (1953) led to Grace’s first Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress. Grace began work in July 1953 on Dial M For Murder for Warner Brothers where she met Alfred Hitchcock who became a cinematic mentor. Soon after, The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954) at Paramount Pictures began Grace’s ground-breaking multi-film collaboration with Academy-Award winning costume designer Edith Head. Grace refused other lucrative film offers to work again with Hitchcock, this time at Paramount Pictures, on Rear Window co-starring Jimmy Stewart. In this landmark film which came out in summer 1954, one of Hitchcock’s dramatic emphases for Grace Kelly’s film persona was to display her natural elegance and sex appeal—he was amused by her public image as an “Ice Queen”3—by having her costumed in an array of fabulous Edith-Head-designed lingerie, dresses, and pants. Growing up in Philadelphia Grace Kelly as an adolescent and teenager had modeled in local fashion shows but, by the middle 1950’s in her mid-twenties, she became an international fashion and style icon. Following these first phenomenal film credits, what happened for Grace Kelly next was perhaps surprising but not unexpected, and a clear and certain capstone to, and beacon for, her professional acting career that was barely five years old. Never just a pretty face, Grace Kelly insisted in her studio contract that she be allowed regular breaks to be able to act in live theater.4 Grace admired the art of the live stage and welcomed demanding theater and film roles that challenged and exhibited her acting range and abilities. This was part of her motivation to go after the hardly glamorous but dramatically impressive role of Georgie Elgin in George Seaton’s The Country Girl (1954) for Paramount Pictures. With co-stars Bing Crosby and William Holden, the film featured Grace playing the long-suffering wife of an alcoholic actor struggling to resume his career (played by Crosby). At its release, the film was a hit and nominated for seven Academy Awards. On Wednesday, March 30, 1955, at the telecast of the 27th annual Academy Awards held at RKO Pantages Theatre,5 The Country Girl won two Oscars, including one for Grace Kelly for Best Actress. At just 25 years old Grace Kelly—of the ambitious and hugely competitive Philadelphia Kellys—had reached the highest echelons of the cinematic arts by way of her profession’s gold-plated statuette. Always looking ahead, Grace’s film career had already turned international. She did Mogambo for a host of reasons not least of which was being able to see Africa with “all expenses paid.”6 In early 1954 she had flown to South America to make Green Fire (1954) for M-G-M with Stewart Granger and then in May 1954 she was at the French Riviera to make her third film with Alfred Hitchcock: To Catch a Thief (1955) co-starring Cary Grant for Paramount Pictures. Grace liked the Riviera enough to travel there one year later, in April 1955, this time for the 8th annual Cannes Film Festival. To what degree Grace could imagine in advance how that particular journey to that most beautiful part of the world would impact her film career as well as future life as wife and mother was beyond her. It was during that early spring 1955 Mediterranean trip that Grace Kelly was first introduced to Prince Rainier III of Monaco.
Grace Kelly stood five foot seven inches tall and weighed 118 pounds. Her dress size was two.7 She was born on November 12, 1929 into the Kelly family of Philadelphia. Grace Patricia Kelly was the third of four children and one of that Irish-German family’s three girls. Elder sister Peggy and younger sister Lizanne were athletic and shared their mother Margaret’s model looks. Margaret was also the family disciplinarian who the Kelly children liked to call “the Prussian General.”8 As a child Grace was dreamy and shy while her siblings were outgoing and athletic. Yet Grace too inherited a keen awareness of her body using her arms and legs to be dramatically expressive in an actress’s rather than athlete’s way.9 By the time she was 18 years old Grace’s beautiful rectangle-shaped face with soft pear-shape dimensions displayed thick blond hair, almond-shaped blue eyes, a small high-bridge nose and ruby lips. Each member of the Philadelphia Kelly family was an exuberant competitor in areas of American life such as athletics, business, politics, or high society. As an adult one of Grace’s major strengths in addition to her incredible beauty was her ability to focus on whatever goal she decided to pursue whether professionally or personally until that goal was achieved. When Grace won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1955 it was also a brick in the Kelly wall of ambition for success. Before she was a teenager Grace performed in plays so that in her teenage years a desire to be an actress grew. Since Grace was situated within a protective and affluent family as well as educated in Philadelphia Catholic and private schools she sought theater work in New York City instead of Hollywood which Grace, even after she achieved film success, considered a pitiless machine of cinematic production.10
It was Aristotle Onassis who suggested to Prince Rainier that he marry a beautiful American movie star to bring the glitterati back to Monaco. Onassis’s list at the time did not include Grace Kelly.11 Invited to the 1955 Cannes Film Festival after she had won the Academy Award for Best Actress for The Country Girl one month before, Grace was curious enough about the prince to be introduced to him in Monaco on Friday, May 6, 1955. What is memorable from the photographs of their meeting at the palace is that the Prince looks chic and handsome and Grace is at her most beautiful in a black silk floral print dress with her blond hair pulled back into a German-style bun. That evening she returned to Cannes for the festival’s screening of The Country Girl helping to conclude a day that Grace herself called “pretty wild.”12 But Grace’s career in Hollywood wasn’t over—nor her life half begun. She was back in Paris before the festival’s winners were announced (she had won nothing there),13 and soon returned to Hollywood to make what turned out to be her final two Hollywood movies – The Swan and High Society.
- It was actually my brother Kevin, now deceased, who when he was working in the Chicago Film Office wrote to me this apt description of Grace Kelly (and Rear Window as the greatest film ever).
- Quoted in Roberts, Paul G., Style Icons Vol 4 Sirens, Fashion Industry Broadcast, p. 74.
- Dherbier, Yann-Brice and Verlhac, Pierre-Henry, Grace Kelly A Life in Pictures, Pavilion, 2006, p. 11.
- Edith-Head-designed apparel for Rear Window – Haugland, H. Kristina, Grace Kelly: Icon of style to Royal bride (Philadelphia Museum of Art), Yale University Press, 2006, p. 956; so she could act in live theater – TBA
- Date and place of 1955 Oscars- see https://www.oscars.org/oscars/ceremonies/1955 – retrieved April 26, 2017.
- did Mogambo for an all-expense paid visit to Kenya – TBA
- height and dress size- http://www.bodymeasurements.org/grace-kelly/ – retrieved April 28, 2017.
- Dherbier and Verlhac, p. 9.
- Conant, Howell, Grace: An intimate portrait of Princess Grace by her friend and favorite photographer, Random House, 1992, p.18.
- Preferred theater to film-TBA
- Leigh, Wendy, True Grace: The Life and Times of an American Princess, New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2007, p.100.
- ibid., p. 112.
- Dherbier and Verlhac, p. 12.
©John P. Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by an means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system.
LADY IN RED: Grace Kelly by Howell Conant, 1955. For more than 25 years Conant was Grace Kelly’s friend and favorite photographer.
Grace Kelly backstage after the 27th annual Academy Awards on March 25, 1955 when she won the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in The Country Girl.
The 27th Annual Academy Awards, Bette Davis presenter, Marlon Brando and Grace Kelly, with their Best Actor and Best Actress Oscars.
Grace on on a family vacation at Ocean City, New Jersey, c. 1946.
Grace Kelly in New York City as a young model and actress, late 1940’s.
Grace moved to Southern California to be in motion pictures. She appeared in her first film called Fourteen Hours for 20th Century-Fox in 1951 when she was 22 years old.
Grace Kelly and her stand-in Dorothy Towne on the set of High Noon.
Lloyd Bridges, Katy Jurado, Gary Cooper, and Grace Kelly in High Noon. Gary Cooper took credit for discovering Grace for the movies. He said about Grace: she was “different from all these actresses we’ve been seeing so much of.”
Grace Kelly, Jamaica, 1955. After making six films in 1954, Grace went on vacation with her sister Peggy and took along Howell Conant to be official photographer. Grace would return to Jamaica for family vacations as Princess of Monaco.
First Visit: Grace Kelly in Monaco, May 6, 1955.
Grace Kelly in Rear Window (1954) slow motion kiss close-up.
James Stewart and Grace Kelly in Rear Window.
Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart in a Paramount publicity photograph for Rear Window. (1954).
Grace on the set of Rear Window.
Grace at Paramount.
Grace Kelly wearing the outfit for the final scene of Rear Window.
Grace Kelly in an outfit by Helen Rose for the film High Society in January 1956.
Grace Kelly in a MGM publicity photograph.
Grace Kelly in a MGM publicity photograph for The Swan.
Grace Kelly, The Swan.
Grace Kelly in a Paramount publicity photo by Bud Fraker.
Grace Kelly in earrings by Joseff.
Grace Kelly in a make-up test for the honeymoon scene in High Society.
Grace Kelly in High Society (1956).
A spring 1956 bridal show at the Ambassador Hotel in New York City featured a Cartier replica of Grace’s engagement ring on the center model. The other rings replicate Rita Gam’s and Margaret Truman’s.
Grace as Lisa in Rear window.
Oscars 1955, Grace Kelly with Best Actress Academy Award as emcee Bob Hope looks on.
Grace Kelly in a chiffon-draped gown by Edith Head for To Catch a Thief (1955).
Grace Kelly studying the script during filming of George Seaton’s The Country Girl. The 1954 film received 7 Academy Award nominations and won two. One of them was for Grace who won the Oscar for Best Actress.