|Monica Vitti - Bert Stern|
Because I am a remnant being from that past 20th century it is understandable that I eschew most of the films made in this century.
I was raised by my mother to appreciate the likes of Leslie Howard, Ronald Colman. Katherine Hepburn and Jean Simmons. It was only when we moved to Mexico City from Buenos Aires in 1954 that I saw Mogambo and fell for Grace Kelly.
While in Buenos Aires my father often took me to see movies on Lavalle which was a street with shoulder to shoulder movie houses for at least three blocks. We saw swashbucklers, war movies and films which we Argentines called de conboys.
In short my level of film sophistication and sophistication of any other kind was low. My grandmother had given me subscriptions to Selecciones del Reader’s Digest and Mecánica Popular.
When I returned in 1965 to do my military service in the Argentine Navy I met two women who became my girlfriends. The first one, Uruguayan-born Corina Poore, introduced me to the music of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Peter, Paul & Mary. She had a lovely voice and played her guitar very well.
My second girlfriend, Susana Bornstein was much more critical of my lack of sophistication. She invited me to the Teatro Colón where I saw my first two operas, Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel, and Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice. If that wasn’t enough she took me to see the Beatles in Help! and the eye-opener Japanese film The Woman in the Dunes. But my level of sophistication did not rise to her liking and one grim Buenos Aires winter afternoon she called me to tell me that I had no future, that I was not to call her ever again and that she was leaving me for a violinist of the Teatro Colón Orchestra.
There was one glimmer of hope for me as I had discovered
Astor Piazzolla in 1965 and had attended a concert with Susana. I wrote about
Once I returned to Mexico City in 1967 (before I was to meet my Rosemary Healey) I was under the wing of Raúl Guerrero Montemayor who taught me how to teach English and with his multiple languages made me curious. He helped by taking me to films I had no idea existed. These were the three films of Michelangelo Antonioni, L'Avventura, La Notte and L'Eclisse. They introduced me to the freckles and other wonders of Monica Vitti. By the time I saw Antonioni’s Blow-up he was part of my new sophisticated radar.
I believe that it was Monica Vitti who gave me the
ability to appreciate Charlote Rampling and Molly Parker.
Vitti also made me understand the beauty of seeing a film in a foreign language (not dubbed). By the time my Rosemary saw all the Italian series Montalbano we could both comprehend most of the Italian being spoken.
I do not believe that there are many actresses (I am old-fashioned) that now are at the level of intensity that Monica Vitti had.
And in my 52 marriage to Rosemary we attended concerts, theatre, dance and shared many books with mutual pleasure. I would assert that she helped me reach my considerable (in my eyes) level of sophistication.