Magnani Graziadei
Anna Magnani and Ercole Graziadei, 1961. Courtesy of the Archivio Luce

…I handed over to her the script of a play, given to me by a New York literary agent, that the author dedicated to her, for having conceived it and written it being inspired by her.

Magnani, who at that time did not speak English, asked me whether I read the script and what I thought about it. I replied that I had a quick read and did not think that highly of it. It consisted of, in my view, a Freudian story of Sicilian immigrants, conventional, and at times arbitrary as to the application to Mediterranean people of the principles of the great – yet still transalpine – Viennese. The manuscript was then archived, joining the hundreds that every famous actor receives yearly..

It then was demonstrated what the result of a critic not being able to put himself in the shoes of the public to whom the message is directed to is; as the drama by Tennessee Williams, played on stage the following winter on Broadway with the title The Rose Tattoo received a wide acclaim.

A few years later Magnani, approached by a Hollywood producer with bags of gold, accepted to act in a film version of the play, winning over the understandable hesitations of whom, called to act abroad for the first time, had to travel as far as Hollywood is from Rome, in miles as well as in translation. It ended in the way that everybody knows: the actress redeemed the play and the competent Academy gave her an “Oscar” and with it the stamp of approval of the otherwise fleeting world of theatre.

From Ercole Graziadei, “Anna Magnani: “Nun te fida'”, in Persone, Roma, Arnaldo Mondadori Editore, 1966.

 

 

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