I finally managed to score a better copy of Addio, Alexandra, the film which contains almost all of Pier Angeli’s career nudity. It’s better, but still not good. The colors are so faded that it’s essentially in sepia-and-white. You would never know it fron this DVD, but this was a color film! On the other hand, the DVD is fairly clear, and better than what we had before.
Few people remember her today, but Pier Angeli had been a significant screen presence in the 1950s. She co-starred and hobnobbed with all of the A-Listers. 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.
During her marriage to Vic Damone, they appeared as guests on the June 17, 1956 episode of What’s My Line:
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.
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 debate. She did die of a drug overdose at 39. 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.
Pier Angeli (billed under her real name, Anna Maria Pierangeli)
Colette Descombes in the same film
I took a shot at trying to restore what the film should have looked like:
Here are some additional pics of Descombes from articles about the film:
And here are Pier and Collette in publicity stills. That scene is in the film (see the Pier Angeli series above), but these particular shots must have been posed on the set. Pier is the one with glasses!
The remainder of their careers:
… had a nip-slip in a 1970 film entitled in the Folds of the Flesh
For more info and a vast number of (non-nude) pictures, here is a very comprehensive web site dedicated exclusively to Pier Angeli.
… did an excellent full-body nude scene in La Ragazzina (1974). I have this on DVD and will get to it when I have the time. (Let’s face it. Nobody is psyched for some Colette Descombes nudity from 50 years ago.) Here are some low-quality teasers: