Sunday January 11, 2015
Anita Ekberg (1931-2015)
I was born three years after “La Dolce Vita,” so my first memory of any Anita Ekberg reference was in SCTV's seminal skit, “Play It Again, Bob,” a takeoff of Woody Allen's “Play It Again, Sam,” in which an “Annie Hall”-era Woody (Rick Moranis) tries to write a movie script for his idol Bob Hope (Dave Thomas):
At around the four-minute mark they talk leading ladies. Hope suggests Joey Heaterton and Woody counters with Diane Keaton:
Hope: That stringbean that was in your movie? ... I need a girl with a build. If I'm gonna fall in love it's gotta be realistic.
Woody: Realistic? I mean, that‘s exactly what I’m going for. I don't want to mug or go to broad with this thing.
Hope: Well, what's wrong with Anita Ekberg. At least she's .. [cups his hands in front of his chest]. You know.
Woody: What's with the hands? You want an actress with arthritis?
I must‘ve said that last line a thousand times in high school and college.
Eventually I saw “La Dolce Vita” and went “Ohhhhhhh.”
Anita Ekberg in the Trevi Fountain.
Did she do much else? Did I ever see her in anything else? IMDb’s ratings of her films have “La Dolce” at 8.1 followed by “Boccaccio ‘70” (she plays a billboard come to life to taunt a prudish “public decency” crusader) at 7.2. Everything else is below 7.0. More than half are below 6.0.
That “billboard come to life” thing is pretty much it, isn’t it? She was often cast as a woman so beautiful and zaftig, so perfectly fitting a certain standard of sexuality, as to be comic.
The New York Times has a nice obit:
Fellini cast Ms. Ekberg in “La Dolce Vita” as a hedonistic American actress visiting Rome. A single moonlit scene — in which she wades into the Trevi Fountain in a strapless evening gown, turns her face ecstatically to the fountain’s waterfall and seductively calls Marcello Mastroianni’s character to join her — established her place in cinema history.