The Penultimate Mile: Sophia Loren in Two Women

(one installment in a quick series counting down from 50 to 26!)

SOPHIA LOREN IN TWO WOMEN (1961)

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The competition (Cliff: 5 for 5!):

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Piper Laurie in The Hustler

Geraldine Page in Summer and Smoke

Natalie Wood in Splendor in the Grass

The third-to-last of the winners left for me to see (and, next to Loretta Young and Jessica Lange, by far the one I was most looking forward to), I found myself more admiring than passionate.  It’s a credit to Sophia that she earned both the first nomination and the first win for a performance in a foreign language (I also wonder how much of the public, or the Academy’s voting membership, saw it subtitled as opposed to dubbed).  Sophia wraps her natural feistiness around her every action, shifting in a heartbeat from traveling by train to hoisting her suitcase onto her head to continue the journey by foot, or leapfrogging over a lusty soldier in a lead-up to the film’s most harrowing moments.  The physicality of her performance was surely a fresh splash on the Academy’s palate, and something that helped to erase any language barrier; from my vantage point, I find myself bound to honor the definitive interpretation of Holly Golightly by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s for Best Actress, but after the more lackluster Marriage, Italian Style, I definitely see Sophia’s true appeal here.

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