best film:  Look at these options: Rocco and His Brothers, 8 ½, The Leopard, Once Upon a Time in the West, Fitzcarraldo – Claudia Cardinale is in five masterpieces, so this category is an unequivocal strength for her.  The single best film on her resume is Federico Fellini’s 8 ½ .  She has a bigger role in The Leopard and Once Upon a Time in the West – but there is plenty to admire in appreciate in her few minutes on screen as simply “Claudia” opposite o Marcello Mastroianni’s Guido. Fellini’s film has Mastroianni’s performance at the heart of the film of course, but closer study of the film reveals the genius of the full ensemble cast – including Cardinale.



Cardinale here in 8 1/2 – part of her astounding 1963 – both The Leopard and 8 1/2 were at Cannes 1963



best performance:  If the top category is an undeniable strength for Cardinale, this category is a bit of a weakness. Yes, Cardinale is in five masterpieces – but she gives the best performance of the film in none of them and that is a shame for her case (and why she does not appear higher on this list). Still, she is amongst the best of the year in both 1963 for The Leopard (though stealing scenes in freaking 8 ½ does not hurt her cause either) and 1968 for Once Upon a Time in the West. In Leone’s epic western, she goes toe to toe with Jason Robards and Henry Fonda. Leone’s penchant for close-ups is not lost on Cardinale’s stunning beauty or expressive eyes. She would have made a great silent film actor with those eyes. Still, it may be her work in The Leopard that edges out the top slot here – but there is a lot of room to debate the top slot between those two performances.



from Visconti’s The Leopard – Claudia Cardinale’s arrival at 60 minutes is one of the great ones in cinema – she (at her physical beauty prime or close in 1963) turns every head in the room – a flawlessly designed left to right frame with flowers on the left and a lantern – wall art




stylistic innovations/traits:   Cardinale’s expressive eyes have to be mentioned front and center here right in the same sentence with her ridiculously strong filmography. Her resume is not deep (nine films in total in the archives) but when over half of them are stone cold masterpieces – well – that is certainly rare in cinema history.



Claudia as Jill McBain in Sergio Leone’s masterpiece Once Upon a Time in the West




directors worked with:   Luchino Visconti (3) and then one big masterpiece each with Federico Fellini, Sergio Leone and Werner Herzog.



top five performances:

  1. The Leopard
  2. Once Upon a Time in the West
  3. 8 ½
  4. The Professionals
  5. Conversation Piece




archiveable films

1958- Big Deal on Madonna Street
1960- Rocco and His Brothers
1963- 8 1/2
1963- The Leopard
1963- The Pink Panther
1966- The Professionals
1968- Once Upon a Time in the West
1974- Conversation Piece
1982- Fitzcarraldo