Nationality: Italian. Born: Alida Maria Altenburger in Pola, 31 May 1921; often billed as Valli in non-Italian films. Education: Attended the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, Rome. Family: Married the pianist Oscar de Mejo, 1944 (divorced), two sons. Career: 1935—film debut in Il capello a tre punte ; 1947—contract with David O. Selznick: U.S. film debut in The Paradine Case ; 1949—role in The Third Man brought international recognition; international films followed; 1956—founded her own theater company. Awards: Nastro d'Argento, 1946–47; David Di Donatello, 1981–82.
Il capello a tre punte
I due sargenti (Guazzoni)
Sono stato io! (Matarazzo); Il feroce Saladino (Bonnard)
L'ultima nemica (Barbaro); Ma l'amore mio non muore (Amato); La casa del peccato (Neufeld); Mille lire al mese (Neufeld); (as Magda)
Assenza ingiustificata (Neufeld) (as Vera); L'ha fatto una signora (Mattòli); Ballo al castello ( Ball at the Castle ) (Neufeld) (as Greta Larsen); Taverna rossa (Neufeld)
La prima donna che passa (Neufeld) (as Gabriele de Verneine); Otre l'amore (Gallone); Manon Lescaut (Gallone) (title role)
Piccolo mondo antico ( Little Old World ) (Soldati) (as Lucia); Ore nove lezione di chimica ( Schoolgirl Diary ) (Mattòli) (as Anna); L'amante segreta (Gallone) (as Renata Kreuze); Luce nelle tenebre (Mattòli)
Catene invisibili (Mattòli); Stasera niente di nuovo (Mattòli); Noi vivi—addio Kira ( We the Living ) (Alessandrini) (as Kira Argounova); Le due orfanelle ( The Two Orphans ) (Gallone) (as Henrietta)
I pagliacci ( Laugh Pagliacci ) (Fatigati) (as Julia); T'amero sempre (Camerini)
Apparizione (De Limur) (as Andreina); Circo equestre Za-Bum ( The Za-Bum Circus ) (Mattòli)
Il canto della vita (Gallone); La vita recominicia ( Life Begins Anew ; The Sin of Patricia ) (Mattòli) (as Patrizia)
Eugenia Grandet (Soldati) (title role)
The Paradine Case (Hitchcock) (as Maddalena Anna Paradine)
The Miracle of the Bells (Pichel) (as Olga Treskovna)
The Third Man (Reed) (as Anna Schmidt)
Walk Softly, Stranger (Stevenson) (as Elaine Corelli); The White Tower (Tetzlaff) (as Carla Alton)
Les Miracles n'ont lieu q'une fois (Yves Allégret) (as Claudia); Ultimo incontro (Franciolini) (as Lina)
Les Amants de Tolède ( The Lovers of Toledo ) (Decoin) (as Inez); "Siam Donne" ep. of Il mondo le condanna (Franciolini); La mano dello straniero ( The Stranger's Hand ) (Soldati) (as Roberta)
Senso ( The Wanton Countess ) (Visconti) (as Countess Livia Serpieri)
Il grido ( The Outcry ) (Antonioni) (as Irma); Les Bijoutiers du clair de lune ( The Night Heaven Fell ; Heaven Fell That Night ) (Vadim) (as Florentine); La grande strada azzura (Pontecorvo) (as the wife)
Barrage contre le Pacifique ( This Angry Age ; The Sea Wall ; La Diga sul Pacifico ) (Clément) (as Claude); L'uomo dai calzoni corti, o L'amore piu grande (Pellegrini)
Arsène Lupin et la toison d'or (Robert)
Les Dialogues des Carmelites (Agostini and Bruckberger) (as Mother Therese); Le Gigolo (Deray); Les Yeux sans visage ( Eyes without a Face ; The Horror Chamber of Dr. Faustus ) (Franju) (as Louise); La Fille du torrent (Herwig)
Il peccato degli anni verdi, o L'assegno (Trieste); Une Aussi Longue Absence ( The Long Absence ) (Colpi) (as Therese Langlois)
Il disordine ( Le desorde ; Disorder ) (Brusati) (as the mother); Furto su misura ; The Happy Thieves ( Once a Thief ) (George Marshall) (as Duchess Blanca); Ophélia (Chabrol) (as Claudia Lesurf); Homenaje a la hora de la siesta ( Homage at Siesta Time ) (Nilsson) (as Constance); Al otro lado de la ciudad
El valle de las espadas ( The Castillian ; Valley of the Swords ) (Setó) (as Queen Teresa)
L'Autre Femme (Villiers)
Humour noir ( La muerta viaje demasiado ; Death Travels Too Much ) (Autant-Lara)
Edipo Re ( Oedipus Rex ) (Pasolini) (as Merope)
Le Champignon (Simenon) (as Linda); La strategia del ragno ( The Spider's Strategem ) (Bertolucci) (as Draifa)
Concerto per pistola solista ( The Weekend Murders ) (Lupo); L'occhio nel labarinto ( Blood ) (Caiano—for TV)
La prima notte di quiete (Zurlini) (as mother); Lisa e il diavolo ( Lisa and the Devil ; The House of Exorcism ; La Casa dell'exorcismo ) (Bava) (as countess); Diario di un italiano ( Diary of an Italian ) (Capogna) (as Olga)
No es nada mama, solo un juego ( It's Nothing, Only a Game ) (Forque)
La Grande Trouille (Grunstein) (as Heloise); La Chair de l'orchidée ( Flesh and the Orchid ; Flesh of the Orchid ) (Chereau) (as woman); L'anticristo ( The Antichrist ; The Tempter ) (De Martino) (as Irene); Tendre Dracula ( La Grande Trouille ; Tender Dracula ) (Grunstein) (as Eloise)
Cher Victor (Robin Davis) (as Anna); Il caso Raoul (Ponzi)
1900 ( Novecento ) (Bertolucci) (as Signora Pioppi); Le Jeu de solitaire (Adam) (as friend); Indagine su un delitto perfetto (Leviathan)
Suspiria (Argento) (as Miss Tanner); Berlinguer ti voglio bene (Bertolucci); The Cassandra Crossing (Cosmatos) (as Mrs. Chadwick); The Cinema According to Bertolucci (G. Bertolucci—doc); Un cuore Semplice (Ferrara)
Zoo Zero (Fleischer); Suor omicidi ( Killer Nun ) (Berruti); Porco mundo ( Porno ) (Bergonzelli); Un cuore semplice (Ferrara)
La Luna ( Luna ) (Bertolucci) (as Giuseppe's mother)
Aquella casa en las afueras ( That House in the Outskirts ) (Martin) (as Isabel); Puppenspiel mit toten Augen ; Inferno (Argento) (as Carol)
Sezona mira u parizu (Golubovic); La caduta degli angeli ribelli ( The Fall of the Rebel Angels ) (Giordana)
Sogni mostruosamente proibiti (Parenti)
Aspern (de Gregorio)
Segreti, segreti ( Secrets, Secrets ) (Giuseppe Bertolucci)
A Notre Regrettable Epoux (Korber) (as Catarina); Le Jupon rouge ( Manuela's Loves ) (Lefèbvre) (as Bacha)
La Bocca (as The Countess); Zitti e Mosca ( The Party's Over ) (Benvenuti) (as Clara)
Il Lungo Silenzio ( The Long Silence ) (von Trotta) (as Carla's mother)
A Month by the Lake (Irvin) (as Signora Fascioli)
Fatal Frames ( Fotogrammi mortali ) (Al Festa) (as Countess Mirafiori)
Probably Love (Giuseppe Bertolucci)
Vino santo (Schwarzenberger—for TV) (as Sveva); Il Dolce rumore della vita (Giuseppe Bertolucci)
Interview, in Cinématographe (Paris), February 1985.
Bowers, Ronald, The Selznick Papers , New York, 1976.
Pellizzari, Lorenzo, Il romanzo di Alida Valli: storie, film e altre apparizoni della signora del cinema italiano , Milan, 1995.
Télérama (Paris), 1 August, 1989.
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Born of an Austrian father and an Italian mother, Alida Valli was one of the first students to enroll in the acting program of the Rome film school, the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. Debuting in films when she was only 14, she scored an immediate success due to her physical grace and striking looks. She starred in many costume dramas—the most lavish productions in Italy both during and after the war. Especially noteworthy was her performance as the grief-stricken mother in Soldati's screen version of Fogazzaro's novel Piccolo mondo antico , and her portrayal of Balzac's Eugenia Grandet. These were romantic dramas in which Valli's grace enabled her to make a more convincing impression in hoop skirts, bonnets, and powdered wigs than did her colleagues.
After the war, David O. Selznick offered her a Hollywood contract but Valli did not make a favorable impression on American audiences. Instead, she went to Britain where she did achieve acclaim, especially in Carol Reed's The Third Man , in which she plays a much-suffering refugee in postwar Vienna. In The Third Man , as in many of her foreign films, she was billed simply as Valli.
Valli's finest performance was in Senso , where she plays an Italian countess during the Austrian occupation of Venice. An aging beauty, she is torn between admiration of her cousin, an Italian army official, her patriotic duty to aid partisan activities, and her passion for a younger, handsome, but degenerate Austrian officer. She also gave a powerful performance as Irma, a poor woman, in Antonioni's Il grido .
In 1956 she founded a theater company and appeared on stage occasionally for the following 15 years. She participated in many productions in the United States, Spain, Italy, and France in the 1960s and 1970s. Her services have been called upon to play strong, sometimes eccentric, character roles; among the best of these films are Bertolucci's 1900 and, most particularly, La strategia del ragno .