I Knew Her Well


1965
I Knew Her Well

Synopsis

A country girl gets into the movies only to discover the corruption beneath the glitter.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Foreign
Release Date
1965

Articles

I Knew Her Well


Adriana, a naïve young beauty from the Italian countryside, is an aspiring actress on the fringes of Rome's movie industry, trying to get the break that will lead to stardom. In spite of her obvious charm, what she finds instead is disillusionment and despair. Similar in tone to La Dolce Vita (1960) but with an unsophisticated young female protagonist, Io la conoscevo bene (I Knew Her Well) was a career highlight for 19-year old star Stefania Sandrelli, and was also one of the standout films of a new kind of Italian cinema, which became known as commedia all'Italiana ("comedy Italian- style").

Starting in the late 1950s, Italian filmmakers began satirizing some of the nation's cultural and social institutions, such as the Catholic church, marriage and sexuality, and the contrast between economic prosperity and poverty. While many of these films were indeed comedies, there was also a harshness, and an edge of sadness that belied the label of "commedia." Several of Italy's top directors, such as Pietro Germi, Ettore Scola, and Bernardo Bertolucci, made some of their best films in the genre. Among their ranks was a director lesser-known internationally, Antonio Pietrangeli, whose career ended prematurely and tragically. A former medical student turned film critic, Pietrangeli broke into movies as a scriptwriter in the 1940s, working on films by such luminaries as Luchino Visconti and Roberto Rossellini before making his directing debut in 1953. Pietrangeli's final completed film, I Knew Her Well, is one of the masterpieces of commedia all'Italiana. He died in 1968, at age 49, while swimming off the coast of Italy during production of his next film.

At 15, Stefania Sandrelli won a beauty contest which offered a movie role as the top prize. Following her film debut, she quickly became one of Italy's busiest young actresses, working with some of the top Italian directors of the era. Sandrelli had one of her best early roles in I Knew Her Well. The film's introduction of her is striking: she is shown sunbathing on a trash-littered beach, lying on her stomach as the camera pans up her legs to her naked back. Sandrelli plays Adriana, drifting from job to job and man to man, chasing her dreams and facing constant frustration. Among the men are press agent Nino Manfredi, self-absorbed actor Jean-Claude Brialy, and, in a brilliant performance by Ugo Tognazzi, an aging, desperate actor frantically trying for a comeback. Look for a then-newcomer, the impossibly handsome Franco Nero, in a bit part as a garage attendant. In the company of such compelling co-stars, Sandrelli more than holds her own--she shines.

Decades later, Sandrelli retained fond memories of working with Pietrangeli: "He was a man of enormous sensitivity," she recalled in an interview. "He loved women. And that sensitivity, his complete openness, took him deep inside, practically monitoring the heartbeat of the film, scene after scene, frame after frame, and he communicated that to me. He gave me so much attention that I wanted to do everything I could to give him exactly what he was looking for." Future director Ettore Scola was one of the writers of I Knew Her Well, along with Pietrangeli. Scola later directed Sandrelli in several films, most notably C'eravamo Tanti Amati (We All Loved Each Other So Much, 1974). Along with the superb acting, writing, and directing, among the many pleasures of I Knew Her Well are the fashions, hairstyles, and the great score of the cheesy Italian pop music of the era.

Director: Antonio Pietrangeli
Producer: Turi Vasile
Screenplay: Antonio Pietrangeli, Ruggero Maccari, Ettore Scola
Cinematography: Armando Nannuzzi
Editor: Franco Fraticelli
Costume Design: Maurizio Chiari
Production Design: Maurizio Chiari
Music: Piero Piccioni
Principal Cast: Stefania Sandrelli (Adriana), Mario Adorf (Emilio), Jean-Claude Brialy (Dario), Joachim Fuchsberger (The Writer), Nino Manfredi (Cianfanna), Ugo Tognazzi (Gigi Baggini), Enrico Maria Salerno (Roberto)
115 minutes

by Margarita Landazuri
I Knew Her Well

I Knew Her Well

Adriana, a naïve young beauty from the Italian countryside, is an aspiring actress on the fringes of Rome's movie industry, trying to get the break that will lead to stardom. In spite of her obvious charm, what she finds instead is disillusionment and despair. Similar in tone to La Dolce Vita (1960) but with an unsophisticated young female protagonist, Io la conoscevo bene (I Knew Her Well) was a career highlight for 19-year old star Stefania Sandrelli, and was also one of the standout films of a new kind of Italian cinema, which became known as commedia all'Italiana ("comedy Italian- style"). Starting in the late 1950s, Italian filmmakers began satirizing some of the nation's cultural and social institutions, such as the Catholic church, marriage and sexuality, and the contrast between economic prosperity and poverty. While many of these films were indeed comedies, there was also a harshness, and an edge of sadness that belied the label of "commedia." Several of Italy's top directors, such as Pietro Germi, Ettore Scola, and Bernardo Bertolucci, made some of their best films in the genre. Among their ranks was a director lesser-known internationally, Antonio Pietrangeli, whose career ended prematurely and tragically. A former medical student turned film critic, Pietrangeli broke into movies as a scriptwriter in the 1940s, working on films by such luminaries as Luchino Visconti and Roberto Rossellini before making his directing debut in 1953. Pietrangeli's final completed film, I Knew Her Well, is one of the masterpieces of commedia all'Italiana. He died in 1968, at age 49, while swimming off the coast of Italy during production of his next film. At 15, Stefania Sandrelli won a beauty contest which offered a movie role as the top prize. Following her film debut, she quickly became one of Italy's busiest young actresses, working with some of the top Italian directors of the era. Sandrelli had one of her best early roles in I Knew Her Well. The film's introduction of her is striking: she is shown sunbathing on a trash-littered beach, lying on her stomach as the camera pans up her legs to her naked back. Sandrelli plays Adriana, drifting from job to job and man to man, chasing her dreams and facing constant frustration. Among the men are press agent Nino Manfredi, self-absorbed actor Jean-Claude Brialy, and, in a brilliant performance by Ugo Tognazzi, an aging, desperate actor frantically trying for a comeback. Look for a then-newcomer, the impossibly handsome Franco Nero, in a bit part as a garage attendant. In the company of such compelling co-stars, Sandrelli more than holds her own--she shines. Decades later, Sandrelli retained fond memories of working with Pietrangeli: "He was a man of enormous sensitivity," she recalled in an interview. "He loved women. And that sensitivity, his complete openness, took him deep inside, practically monitoring the heartbeat of the film, scene after scene, frame after frame, and he communicated that to me. He gave me so much attention that I wanted to do everything I could to give him exactly what he was looking for." Future director Ettore Scola was one of the writers of I Knew Her Well, along with Pietrangeli. Scola later directed Sandrelli in several films, most notably C'eravamo Tanti Amati (We All Loved Each Other So Much, 1974). Along with the superb acting, writing, and directing, among the many pleasures of I Knew Her Well are the fashions, hairstyles, and the great score of the cheesy Italian pop music of the era. Director: Antonio Pietrangeli Producer: Turi Vasile Screenplay: Antonio Pietrangeli, Ruggero Maccari, Ettore Scola Cinematography: Armando Nannuzzi Editor: Franco Fraticelli Costume Design: Maurizio Chiari Production Design: Maurizio Chiari Music: Piero Piccioni Principal Cast: Stefania Sandrelli (Adriana), Mario Adorf (Emilio), Jean-Claude Brialy (Dario), Joachim Fuchsberger (The Writer), Nino Manfredi (Cianfanna), Ugo Tognazzi (Gigi Baggini), Enrico Maria Salerno (Roberto) 115 minutes by Margarita Landazuri

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