During the beginning of the year 1972 in Cortina d’Ampezzo, back from my journey in Mexico with Ruy I was spending my snowy days closed in my flat, dreaming about my life…. which in that moment appeared not at all satisfying.
The work was going on, shortly I’d have been the lead character in the movie “Red neck” with Telly Savalas and Franco Nero directed by the Italian-Canadian Silvio Narizzano, who was just coming out from the great outcome obtained with the western movie “Blue”, played by the charming Terence Stamp.
From left:T.Savalas,F.Nero,Mark Lester…the director on the ground and me
I kept on being alone…my family didn’t exist and Ruy hadn’t any intention to offer me one indeed! Everything seemed to me precarious and one afternoon to remove that unpleasant sensation I decided to spend my time going to skate to the Olympic stadium in Cortina.…where I could have left my thoughts run on the blade of my ice-skates in the attempt of seeing them melting in the ice…
I was wearing a Peruvian poncho embroidered with many brown and beige llamas and for some time, twirling on the ice, I could run the risk to be happy.
During the first lap I heard my name being called out…it was Dino Risi who was drawing my attention from the border of the skating rink …he wasn’t alone: his sons Claudio and Marco were with him and welcomed me introducing their friend Carlo Vanzina to me.
Carlo Vanzina looks like Baudelaire ?!?!
I noticed at once the amusing complicity they were exchanging witticisms with …they should be friends since a long time to get on so well, I was attracted above all by the handsomeness of Marco, even if Carlo’s liking and sweetness made an impression…. on the contrary Claudio was too reserved to my taste…too thoughtful! I wanted to laugh, to feel the blood of life flowing faster, hastening my desires and not appeasing them…
Between one lap on the skating rink and another we succeeded in exchanging information about our lives and I noticed how Carlo was a real encyclopaedia of the movie world: he knew every author, interpreter, scenarist and performer of soundtracks and he could just in a second link them to the movie who had made them famous…The time passed on in that skating rink and I didn’t realized it, so thrilled as I was by that encounter with some boys of my same age who knew everything, really everything about the world of my art work and I felt me important to their eyes for the only fact to have told them that soon I’d have begun the shot of the movie directed by the author of “Blue” …whom, naturally, Carlo knew everything about!
Play bill of “Blue”
At the end of that afternoon we exchange our roman addresses…in Cortina they lived all together in a hotel on the road to the Toulà where, they told to me, during each evening they joined to play card and listen to the shrewd witticisms poured out with so much relish by Paolo Panelli e Bice Valori.
That evening was sadder then usual for me …I was alone with Ruy while somewhere else before a crackling fire someone was laughing and joking in the warmth of many close-knit families… An evocative image very dangerous for my precarious common sense longing as I was to try a new life in search for that warmth lost many years ago when, laying before a fireplace with red embers, I listened to my parents during their maybe last and concluding heated discussion …I was only three and I’d have never seen them together anymore!!!
My father takes a picture of the family,Eli Mum and Ala
In Rome Carlo came to see me on the set of the movie and often in the evening I was guest at his parents’…after chattering a little in the studio full of scene pictures we passed all together in the dining room sitting round an oval table fully laid…I was fascinated by the calm and serenity of the father Stefano Vanzina, the director Steno, a man extremely polite, smart, slender, his always smiling face framed by a perfect pair of small black moustache, whose biting satire was always hitting the mark never getting carried away.
Our first kiss in boys’ room, after dinner, listening to the song “Me and my arrow” by J.Nilssen, the author of the soundtrack of “Midnight Cowboy”… Then in haste to the cinema Fiamma to see “Tom Jones”, in succession “The Graduate”…We never do anything else then speaking about cinema, after all Carlo had grown on Totò and Sordi’s knees…and I had attended, the summer before in Taormina, the world première of the movie “Bananas” played by Woody Allen, who was still unknown by a great many people…
Play-bill of the movie
a bloodthirsty dictator who flight off the handle when falling in love with a provocative woman soldier…political satire apart I could just share with Carlo his striking funny side! For the other people Woody Allen was a complete unknown.
My life was by that time directed on a new track; my story with Ruy ended, in a sunny march of 1972 I invited my new friends to ski in the mountains at Monesi, guests of my father’s. Marco and Carlo slept in a small, basic bed and breakfast and we ate together on uncomfortable stools at the snack bar coming home from skiing. In the morning I ran to wake them up and in the evening I kissed tenderly my “potilo”…before going to bed.
Come back in Rome, what fascinated me more were the convivial evenings enlivened by Steno, Sandra Mondani e Raimondo Vianello’s hilarity, by Paolo Panelli who knew how to make us smile with the simplicity of one sketches of his: “er sor Cecconi Bruno”, the general Custer with his trumpet “pe, perepe, pe, pe” or one of his movie “with card ” fully preferred by me when, imitating Humphrey Bogart getting on a taxi with his trench’s collar lifted up, his head bent and talking in a falsetto voice started with “ follow that car”…in the general hilarity!
The great Paolo Panelli and Humphrey Bogart
One evening at Suso Cecchi D’Amico’s, invited by his daughter Caterina, one of Carlo’s friend, I could attend a true miracle…In the big hall in via Paisiello around a black grand piano there stood two famous personalities: at the keyboard the great composer Nino Rota…leant to the piano the director Luchino Visconti, whom Suso scripted the movies to.
This last amused himself asking to the friend musician the transposition of a work seen by another artist…for example Debussy seen and interpreted by Chopin.
A slap of culture that I can never forget…I understood in a single moment how those young mates were privileged… To be able to live with all that culture every instant of their life…other than simple family love…here there was pure cleverness…and I was an enraptured spectator!
Carlo borrowed the key of a studio behind via Cassia and in a fateful afternoon invited me to visit it…it was mostly a damp boudoir, a garçonniere even a little dreary!
The bed embedded between the walls was surmounted by a canopy…Carlo felt my uneasiness and during that first date he didn’t show himself…we went away, I had the sensation of not having been liked by him, he of having failed utterly !
Perhaps these were the grounds that made us been more keen the following time… so much that I got pregnant… I remember perfectly, while we made love, I wished I had a son, a family completely mine and that evocation had achieved the desired effect…now I got it!
I’m driving during the escape
In the meanwhile the shots of the film “Red Neck” was coming to an end, I still had to shot the scene of the car escape after the robbery in via Sistina and a stuntman taught me how to drive squealing off the avenue of Cinecittà. When we took the shooting I had to crash into a parked car and the assistant director, replacing me at the wheel of the vehicle for that dangerous scene, forgot to move the private car selected for that collision …and thinking it was the scene’s one he opened the shot…We heard the crash of the collision together with the shouts of the owner who had seen his car shrivelling up live…!!! That driving lesson urged me to take the driving license and with the provisional driving license I succeeded in doing my first and only crash in my life…by Carlo’s side on his Mini Minor red bordeaux along the Eur avenue I didn’t noticed the traffic light that was becoming red and ran into the Police car before me! What can I say? Just in the policemen’s Alfetta…what a shame…anything but a budding stuntman… nearly they withdrew my provisional driving license and future driving license!!!
Knowing as my father wouldn’t have taken our marriage in good part I wrote him a letter justifying our decision with the fact that I was pregnant … When I wanted I were very good to obtain what I wished…I was ready to use any subject in my favour with a superficiality that wouldn’t have passed unnoticed for an attentive observer and that revealed my immaturity and a scarce inclination to consider other people as human beings, riding roughshod over people’s feelings with the same facility they had rode over mine. A really miserable world…this was what I’d have been able to prepare for my child…ever since steeped as he was in a present without values.
There was a breaking motive that had made my young heart so hard to other people’s feelings …I had been the involuntary protagonist of the saga of my family or, to be more exact, of what remained of it.
In Alassio, at my father’s, during the summer holidays at the end of the second class of the secondary school, it blurted me out that I didn’t want to return to Rome at my mother’s anymore because she frequented a man and, one night, I had seen them naked absorbed in their plays. My father flight into a fury and instead of explaining me that what I had seen was part of life… applied to the lawyers and brought an action against my mother. Completely unaware of what was in store I began to attend the third class in the public secondary school of Albenga…here one day the school caretaker told me that my mother had arrived and wanted to talk with me…panic-stricken for that surprised I’d have escaped thousand miles far away. She asked me: “Why Eli? Why? Would you come home with me?”. I hugged her without answering, I think ashamed for what I had unintentionally caused. The day after my nightmare got worse: I was called to witness in a hall of the magistrate’s court before unknown persons who asked me to confirm what I had confided to my father.
Stand up…the Court is coming
I felt faint and when my mother came at my father’s looking for me to say good bye I felt so ashamed to lose my senses again. I was granted to my father, started again my “normal life”…but only for short!
The lady whom my father shared his life with, Vittoria, didn’t agree at all on the fact of keeping me with them in Villa Bellavista. One evening, coming back home from the cinema with my friend Giuseppe Scarrone on foot, we were kissing each other tenderly on the lips when we were illuminated by a merciless light of a pile … it was my father that in a not very polite manner threw out my young admirer bringing me back home. The hell began for me the day after owing to the repeated offences that my father’s partner, in his absence, hurled me comparing me to a fallen woman …she made so much that obtained what she wanted: I ran away from home weeping bitter tears through a garden’s side door. At first I went to my cousins’, then in a nun boarding school near the see and …in Rome again …with which face I really don’t know!
My father let the leaves covering that way of escape till it became inaccessible, covered as it is today by a meter of humus… there are blooming multicoloured nasturtiums….while that door’s key is with me since then!
Love is a matter of sense of perfect timing, we follow what we want when somebody suggest it to us and I followed Carlo in the residence behind Piazza delle Muse in Rome playing the future little wife, convincing myself to be able to build a new family even if I was lacking in advices, explanations, understanding, help to set up that new life.
For our engagement’s party in the evening at Vanzina’s it was also invited the actor Lando Buzzanca who was shooting with me in Latina the movie “Jus Primae Noctis” directed by Pasquale Festa Campanile, featuring in the cast also the sweet Enrica Bonaccorti.
Getting on his red Ferrari at the end of the production, on the way to Rome, I had to stand his hilarity because in his opinion I wasn’t absolutely suited to married life and I’d have better put off…he told me…putting his hand on my thigh! Probably he was right but I was a sick who didn’t know to, whom nobody healed… and only eventually I’d have succeeded in getting the better of those hormonal troubles that had decided the course of my young life, recovering my balance with effort.
On the set
Strong nausea filled all my days ..…while I was trying on my scene costumes by the fashion house Pompei I felt my sweat mounting unnaturally up to the temples , and a strong feeling to throw up pervaded me. I judged it an alarm bell…how could a new life be the cause of similar trouble? During the end of the shots of the movie in Latina I had to be taken, naked with my hands tied up, before the landlord of that village; I was made up into a deconsecrate church full of the smell of the large candles that formed the principal furniture of the medieval room selected for that shot…my head was spinning, I didn’t bear that smell and I fainted. When I came to my senses I had taken my decision, I’d have never be a mother …all those negative feelings meant actually that this new being didn’t felt at its ease, maybe it didn’t want to come into the world and I couldn’t say that it was wrong …after what I had been through. I wouldn’t have known how to help, advise, bring it up lacking as I was in the basic notions, in any value or life rectitude …where would I have begun from ?!?…Really I didn’t feel me equal to that task…I decided to find a compliant doctor who wanted to help me in postponing that birth.
A young Marie Stopes
In 1972 it wasn’t still possible to have an abortion lawfully and it wasn’t easy to find the proper facility …in the end The Marie Stopes Memorial Center in London opened its doors and I woke up from the anaesthesia in a may afternoon…feeling no more sick.
The Memorial Center: better think before !
There are no short cuts for consciousness, above all if nobody explains you the life, and I had lost my way more and more times. I hadn’t felt up to bringing that innocent on heart and I dirtied my hands of its murder …which in my heart I considered the lesser evil…the passage on this earth without the minimum consciousness was for me …the worst of the evil.
On june 24th MP Trombadori was waiting in Campidoglio to join us in an indissoluble marriage …would I at least succeeded in doing that?