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.
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.
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.
directors worked with: Luchino Visconti (3) and then one big masterpiece each with Federico Fellini, Sergio Leone and Werner Herzog.
top five performances:
- The Leopard
- Once Upon a Time in the West
- 8 ½
- The Professionals
- Conversation Piece
|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