Italian Divas in American Film: Changing Images of Italian Womanhood

Vera Dika, New Jersey City University

The image of Italian-American women has changed over the course of film history. In American film, this female character is often presented as intimately linked to the gangster figure. In Italian cinema, on the other hand, depictions of women are considerably more varied and complex. During the 1950s and 1960s Italian actresses Anna Magnani and Sophia Loren redefined the cinematic representation of Italian-American women by starring and wining Academy Awards for their performances in American films. Vera Dika will examine the work of five actors – Anne Dvorak in Scarface (1932), Magnani in The Rose Tattoo (1955), Loren in Two Women (1962), and Annabella Sciorra and Isabella Rossellini in The Funeral (1996) – and discuss their embodiment of “Italianicity.”