Pier Angeli in Addio, Alexandra

Pier Angeli had been a significant screen presence in the 1950s. She co-starred and hobnobbed with all of the A-Listers. By the end of the sixties, however, Hollywood had abandoned her. Near the end of her life, Pier tried to resuscitate her career by appearing in some low-rent projects to demonstrate that she was still working. This was one of those projects.

There are reports that she wanted to keep this film out of distribution, and it’s easy to understand why she felt that way. This project had to do her career more harm than good. Not only is it a bad film, but everything about her appearance in it is disappointing. First, she looked older than her 37 years; second, her overacting in one sequence was embarrassing; and finally, Addio was a cheapjack piece of erotica which should theoretically have been far below her pay grade. After all, this is a woman who had a torrid affair with the legendary James Dean, was engaged to Kirk Douglas, married Vic Damone, and had once co-starred with Paul Freakin’ Newman.

Unfortunately, Addio Alexandra was not the low point of her career desperation. That would be Octaman. Did her despondency about the state of her life and career lead to suicide? There is a lot of discussion about that in another thread. She did die of a drug overdose. Was it an accidental overdose? Suicide? An error by her physician? We will never know for sure. We can’t conclude that she took her own life, but neither can we rule out the possibility, given her emotional state in those final years.

The copy of Addio, Alexandra that I managed to score is so bad that I had to keep switching from software to software, trying to work around all the glitches and dead spots in the DVD. I did finally come up with five crappy film clips that were the basis of the captures below.

Pier Angeli (billed under her real name, Anna Maria Pierangeli)

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Colette Descombes

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Additional pics of Descombes from articles about the film:

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Pier and Collette in publicity stills. That scene is in the film (see the final capture of the Pier Angeli series above), but these particular shots must have been posed on the set. Pier is the one with glasses!

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There are better versions of the film online, but without the nude scenes. Gallery here, clip below.

For more info and a vast number of pictures, here is a very comprehensive web site dedicated exclusively to Pier Angeli.

3 thoughts on “Pier Angeli in Addio, Alexandra

  1. I had always read that this relationship with James Dean was a Hollywood set up. That JD was know for being gay and Hollywood wanted their star accepted by Middle America. It was for show. 30 odd years ago when I was living in NorCal, I was always intrigued buy the JD story. I drove Hwy 46 and the spot where he died ALL the time when I would go south to visit my folks. Back then I harbored a dream of writing short stories and fiction novels…JD being a linking character throughout the stories. But alas life took a different turn for me. But that is what I gleaned from the research I put in back then…

    1. I think the consensus among his biographers is that his sexuality was complicated. He seems to have had gay relationships, but not exclusively.

      From Wikipedia:

      Rebel director Nicholas Ray is on record saying,“James Dean was not straight, he was not gay, he was bisexual. That seems to confuse people, or they just ignore the facts. Some … most … will say he was heterosexual, and there’s some proof for that, apart from the usual dating of actresses his age. Others will say no, he was gay, and there’s some proof for that too, keeping in mind that it’s always tougher to get that kind of proof. But Jimmy himself said more than once that he swung both ways, so why all the mystery or confusion?”

      Martin Landau, a good friend of Dean’s whom he met at the Actors Studio, stated, “A lot of people say Jimmy was hell-bent on killing himself. Not true. A lot of gay guys make him out to be gay. Not true. When Jimmy and I were together we’d talk about girls. Actors and girls. We were kids in our early 20s. That was what we aspired to.”[

    2. “The current intersection is now marked as the James Dean Memorial Junction. The junction was officially dedicated as the James Dean Memorial Junction on September 30, 2005 as part of the State of California’s official commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Dean’s death. However, this is not the actual intersection where the accident occurred, contrary to popular belief. The accident scene is about 100 feet to the south of the current intersection, where the road used to be.”

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