St Andrews pays tribute to ‘Italy’s sweetheart’

Thursday 30 April 2009

Academics and fans of Italian film are to pay tribute to the Italian actress once described as one of the most beautiful women in the world.

At a special event in St Andrews this weekend, the importance of the late, great, Alida Valli will be highlighted during an Italian film festival.

The festival was organised by Dr William Brown, a lecturer in Film Studies at the University of St Andrews, as part of the Italian Film Festival UK.

He commented, “Alida Valli was a model of acting professionalism, working in every conceivable genre and with some of the world’s leading directors during the course of her 60-year plus career.”

It is the first time that St Andrews has participated in the national festival, which takes place in seven other cities throughout the UK.  This weekend (1-3 May), the University will host screenings of five Italian classics over three days.

Included in the line-up is a special screening of The Third Man, Carol Reed’s 1949 classic starring Orson Welles as Harry Lime in Graham Greene’s classic story of double cross in post-war Vienna.

Alida Valli, known as Italy’s Sweetheart at the height of her fame, stars alongside Welles in the film.  Valli starred in 120 films, worked with some of the greatest directors in Europe, including Alfred Hitchcock, and alongside Hollywood actors such as Gregory Peck.

Memorably stealing a career-defining role earmarked for veteran actress Ingrid Bergman, Valli worked in films from the age of 15 until well into her seventies.  The national sweetheart was famously described by Mussolini as the most beautiful woman in the world, after Greta Garbo.  A shy woman, who rarely gave interviews, Valli died at home, aged 84, in 2006.

Pasquale Iannone, an expert in Valli’s work from the University of Edinburgh will deliver an introduction to Valli and her work before the showing of The Third Man in St Andrews on Sunday (3 May).  He commented, “Alida Valli appeared in some of the most notable Italian films from the 40s right through until the 90s, working with the world¿s greatest directors, including Hitchcock, Pasolini, Bertolucci, Chabrol and Argento.  Internationally, however, she is perhaps best known for her turn as Anna Schmidt in The Third Man”

Each of the five films to be shown in St Andrews this weekend will be preceded with an introductory talk by an expert in cinema or Italian culture.  As well as some of the greatest Italian actors and actresses of all time, Scots actor Douglas Henshall will make an appearance in the Francesca Archibugi film, Flying Lessons, over the St Andrews leg of the festival.

The Italian Film Festival UK is also sponsored by the National Lottery and Screen Scotland, and by the Italian Institute for Culture.  All screenings will take place at New Picture House cinema on North Street, St Andrews.



DR WILLIAM BROWN IS AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW ON 01334 462453, email [email protected]

St Andrews Italian Film Festival line-up

Friday 6pm – Her Whole Life Ahead (15) Comedy

Saturday 2pm – The Girl by the Lake (15) Award-winning thriller

Saturday 6pm – Flying Lessons (15) Italian-Indian-Scottish road movie

Sunday 2pm – The Third Man (12A) Classic featuring Italian star Alida Valli

Sunday 6pm – A Perfect Day (15) Drama from leading Italian director

Tickets are available on the door, online (, or by telephone (01334 473 509).

Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews
Contact Gayle Cook, Senior Press Officer on 01334 467227 / 462529, mobile 07900 050 103, or email [email protected]

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