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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Angelo Frontoni: Master of Light on Paper

During the 60’s and 70’s Italian cinema was at it’s pinacle! Cinecita, at the borders of the eternal city Rome, was producing each year dozens of movies for each genre possible. Those movies would later be called “Cinema Bis” because they were often copies of American blockbusters like Exorcist, Jaws, Star Wars, …. When you were on one of these sets at that time, you could often see a little dark haired balding man with a photo camera in his hand running around and taking at regulary intervals pictures of these sets, cast and crew during and between filming. His name was "Angelo Frontoni" (°Rome 1929) and one of the best photographers from that era in Italy and probably the world. During his long career, untill his death by heart attack in his beloved Rome in 2002 at the age of 73, he worked with almost every actress in the Euro-cult scene like Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, Claudia Cardinale, Gina Lollobrigida, Virna Lisi, Anna Magnani, Catherine Spaak, Scilla Gabel, Silvana Mangano, Monica Vitti, Edwige Fenech, Ornella Mutti, Eleonara Giorgi, Monica Guerritore, Serena Grandi, Fransceca Dellare, Elsa Martinelli, Ursula Andress, Ornella Vanoni, Iva Zanicchi, Monica Belluci, Maria Grazia Cucinotta, Valeria Marini, and of course...Marisa Mell. Life in Rome was great and a beautiful back ground for his pictures. He started out as black and white photographer but during the following years switched to colour. As you can see from his pictures he had always the beauty of the actresses as his main goal. He loved women and he got to know them all very intimitely. At every moment of the day with its special day light he could create a beautiful picture. He was a real master of his trade.

With such stunning photos it was not strange that most of the top magazines dealing in female beauty, ranging from Playboy, High Society to Vogue, Harper's Bazar, came knocking at his door to do photo shoots for them. His pictures were always a sure sell. Living in the liberated 60's and 70's people became aware that being nude and nudity was not something to be ashamed of but a natural thing. So nude photography became, at least in Europe, socially accepted and people enjoyed seeing nude women, and actresses in special, in movies, books, magazines.... like the ground breaking movie "Emmanuelle" with Dutch actress Sylvia Kristel. The above list of actresses he worked with gives you an idea that almost all of them were accepting photo shoots in the nude, not only because it was fashionable, but because it was also done by a master of the trade. Where could you go wrong? You were sure that the pictures were done with a lot of respect for the subject at hand and often history was made in retrospect.

For Marisa Mell nudity was not a problem neither in film nor in photos as shown in this photo from the 1970 movie "The Great Swinddle" with Stephen Boyd. When the offers for nude photo shootings came in among others from Angelo Frontoni, Marisa Mell was not opposed to it. By the way those photo shoots were easy money - very well payed for little work. In later years, Marisa Mell relied on nude photography to earn a living after her career was at an all time low but not in the mid '70's with Angelo Frontoni. There are two photo shoots which made headlines, the one where she wears her hair in Indian style braids with a red back ground and the other is a photo shoot with Helmut Berger together full frontal naked in bed as a publicity stunt for the movie "La belva col mitra" in 1977. The photo shoot with the Idian style braids went around the world and appeared one way or the other in a lot of magazines starting in Italian "Playboy", then to German "High Society" and then all the way down to local yellow press magazines.

Below you can see three covers of the same photo shoot! Although the covers look alike, when you look closer you can see that they are not and that they are each a little different:

At the end of his life Angelo Frontoni had an enormous back catalogue of photos of stars and starlets from years gone by. These photos were often collected in books and magazines, not always to the delight of some stars which liked to forget that they were ever made.

1 comment:

Keith said...

I'm glad that so many actresses in the 1970's had no problems with nudity. I sure love looking at their naked bodies. :-) I wish I had been an adult back in the 70's (I was born in December of 1970), living in Europe. Wow!