BBC Culture

Hot shots of Italian cinema

  • The big screen
    Carlo Ponti, Sophia Loren and Vittorio De Sica, Rome, 1961 (Photo: Marcello Geppetti/Estorick Collection)
  • Smoke and mirrors
    Set of La Dolce Vita, Marcello Mastroianni (Photo: Arturo Zavattini/ Estorick Collection)
  • Cruise control
    Anita Ekberg driving a Mercedes, Rome, May 1962 (Photo: Marcello Geppetti/Estorick Collection)
  • Piling in
    Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay leaving Piccola Budapest, Rome, October 1962 (Photo: Marcello Geppetti/Estorick Collection)
  • Bar crawl
    Jack Lemmon, Joan Collins and Robert Wagner at Caffè dell’Epoca, Rome, October 1961 (Photo: Marcello Geppetti/Estorick Collection)
  • Tasty dish
    Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay, Rome, September 1960 (Photo: Marcello Geppetti/Estorick Collection)
  • Table dancing
    Raquel Welch and Marcello Mastroianni at Cinecitta on the set of the movie Shoot Loud, Louder, I do not understand ..., 1966 (Photo: Marcello Geppetti/Estorick Collection)
  • The love boat
    Richard Burton and Liz Taylor kissing in Ischia, June 1962 (Photo: Marcello Geppetti/Estorick Collection)
  • They’re behind you
    Brigitte Bardot in Spoleto, June 1961 (Photo: Marcello Geppetti/Estorick Collection)
  • Glare of publicity
    Audrey Hepburn, Rome, 1961 (Photo: Marcello Geppetti/Estorick Collection)


From the paparazzo who inspired Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, these seductive snaps show the decadent lives of Hollywood stars in ’60s Italy. BBC Culture has a peek.

A new show in London reveals the decadent lives of Hollywood stars during the Golden Age of Italian cinema. With photographs taken by Marcello Geppetti, said to have partly inspired the character Paparazzo in La Dolce Vita, the Estorick Collection exhibition features Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot and Sophia Loren in the bars and cafes of 1960s Rome.

Raquel Welch dances on a table while Marcello Mastroianni looks on; Anita Ekberg smiles languidly from an open top Mercedes; and Jayne Mansfield is fed spaghetti , cigarette in hand. There’s even a sense of today’s long lens sniper: Elizabeth Taylor is snapped kissing Richard Burton on the roof a boat in 1962 (both were still married to others at the time).

Their faces blanched by the flashbulbs, these are the A-listers at the birth of celebrity culture. While some pose for the camera, others seem less pleased: Ekberg is also pictured brandishing a bow and arrow at photographers, while Franco Nero is caught assaulting Rino Barillari at the Trevi Fountain.

Yet the mood in most pictures is light and playful. According to the Estorick Collection’s director Roberta Cremoncini: “It was less aggressive than it is today.”

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