Girl With a Suitcase, 1961

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Girl With a Suitcase is one of my favorite Claudia Cardinale films. There's a unsettled quality about her that haunts. The post-neorealist film was directed by Valerio Zurlini, a lesser-known but superb Italian director. Among his best films are The Girls of San Frediano (1955) and Violent Summer (1959). But I chose Girl With a Suitcase because of Cardinale's childlike innocence and the gentle quality of the 16-year old (Jacques Perrin) who falls for her.

With the success of Sophia Loren in the U.S. after Two Women, Cardinale's fame in Italy grew. In 1963, she crossed over to Hollywood, appearing in The Pink Panther opposite David Niven. From there, she appeared in a string of American films in the '60s. In the 1970s, she returned to Italy where her career soared in Europe. In Girl With a Suitcase, you cannot take your eyes off of her, and it's hard to imagine the film holding together without her performance.

As a side note, toward the end, there's a beach scene with a recording of Italian pop vocalist Mina singing Il Cielo in Una Stanza in the background. Written by singer Gino Paoli and originally recorded by Mina, the song was first released in June 1960 and became a runaway hit.

Mina's version appeared initially in two films, in Appuntamento a Ischia, directed by Mario Mattoli, and then in Girl With a Suitcase. Later in 1990, Mina's recording appeared as a backdrop during a bar scene early in Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas.

Here is Girl With a Suitcase...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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