Interview by Gordiano Lupi
March 18, 2016
Miss Italy, Miss Europe, actress of western, horror, noir, sexy comedy ...
Daniela Giordano was born in Palermo on November 7, 1947, she finished her high school studies, she won the title of Miss Sicily (she explains it well in the interview), crowned Miss Italy she finished second in Miss Europe, made her film debut in “I due barbieri di Sicilia” (The Two Sicilian Barbers) by Marcello Ciorciolini, with Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia. She was very active until 1987, in the movies, on television and in advertisements. A good actress and a beautiful woman, she was a minor figure in the cinema, perhaps for not having had the great opportunity of a lifetime that were to launch the Olympus of the stars. She lives in Sicily where she deals with parapsychology and ufology. I went searching for her for a short interview.
GL: Miss Italy in 1966, the first Miss Miss Palermo and Miss Sicily. Third in Miss Europe. Thus begins your entry into the world of cinema?
DG: It all it started by accident. It was almost mid-August, for us in those days the summer. I was 19 years old. I was in Mondello, the seaside resort near Palermo. I was always on the beach with my friends, a group of about 10 boys and girls of the same age. One evening, with my friends, we decided to organize a party at the Little Mermaid, the bar across from the beach which had a beautiful walkway with access and free dancing. There was a Juke-Box and everyone could participate: relatives, friends, passers-by, people strolling along the beach ... They were all happy and someone decided to elect the prettiest girl in the party. I won that kind of family contest as Miss Mondello. The next day, my uncle, chief editor of the local newspaper of Sicily, inserted my picture and a few lines of comment on this social event in the local newspaper. This picture, through news agencies, ended up on some table of the organizers of the competition of Miss Italy in Rome. Someone decided to use this festival giving me automatically the title of Miss Palermo – probably they were late with the contest of the regional selection of the competition and, thus, decided not to organize a new event in Palermo. So, I was visited by two guys from Rome who presented me with a contract to enter the competition at the national level. My family was uncertain whether I should leave all this "freedom", but since they were sure that I would not win gave their consent. I was a minor under Italian law. So, I began the rigmarole of the selections. After winning, to the surprise of all the family members and relatives, the title of Miss Sicily, which was organized in a town near Palermo, I signed the contract to participate in the Miss Italy contest. It was mandatory if you won a selection you had to participate in the other. In short, I signed the first contract so I could not withdraw from any of the others - if I won. And here the first problems arose because no one in the family was willing to let me go alone. So, as the "at fault" of much turmoil was my uncle, he was in Salsomaggiore accompanied by his wife, my aunt. And I won. At this point I was obliged to participate in the Miss Europe contest. As the pace of the competition back then was a paradise compared to those that sometimes I see today, I was still very tired. I wanted to get home and out of the way of all those people who told me what to do, when to do it and how to do it. And I confess that I did not go over well with the patron of the competition. Still at home they were all convinced that I would not win the contest Miss Europe. So, making the best of a bad situation, it was decided that my mother would accompany me to Nice. After the tour in the United States (New York, Boston, Philadelphia) and Canada (Montreal), we returned to Italy, the William Morris Company, one of the most important agencies in the world of film, offered me the part of a young protagonist in a movie “I due barbieri di Sicilia” (The Two Barbers from Sicily). At that time I was very often on the covers of newspapers. I was very happy and much less mine. But I still had the commitment with the selection of Miss Europe. At Nice I was the only girl with their mother in tow! On the evening of the awards ceremony the patron of the competition (a very nice person), called me and my mother, and made us sit in a private room. And with a face that was bursting with joy almost officially he informed us that most of the jurors were voting for me and for that year, I would be the new Miss Europe. My mother and I were frozen in fear, for the first time we agreed though for different reasons. The French owner was puzzled by our reaction. It had never happened before. So, my mother and I explained that we were not interested in winning the competition. If I won I would have to participate in Miss World and lose the chance to accept my first film and to conquer my independence from the family, but he would not give in. We tried to convince this gentleman by stating our arguments. The contests organization prefered to have a Miss Europe who was determined, eager and happy to win rather than one that complained and which had other objectives. However, for him the situation was very strange and he kept asking: "But are you sure?". Miss Spain won the competition of Miss Europe 1967, and, finally, I got out of contests. I came in second. I was happy and my family, too, for the moment. All the newspapers have always written that I came third in Miss Europe. They all agreed, which made me often doubt my memories. But with an Internet search I did today, during this interview, perhaps my memories will have justice. (Visit the site: http://lempimissit.suntuubi.com/?cat=524 to be sure).
GL: What do you remember about Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia, which you debuted with in “I due barbieri di Sicilia”?
DG: As it was my first film, I was not really happy. The consideration that then you had at the public level is that of a low-caliber film. However, at last I was in Rome and I was running around alone. From my point of view Franco Franchi was "a shaken character" but at ease on the set and often creative. Ciccio Ingrassia was calmer and more "sir." Together they were perfect in their scenes. Working with them was very pleasant and enjoyable.
GL: Did you seek more films to appear in?
DG: At first I was sought mainly for westerns because I was Sicilian and, according to the current opinion, my facial features were perfect for being a Mexican. I dyed my hair black and I wore make-up with very dark greasepaint. Then, later, realizing what was going on, I lightened my hair, I studied a bit of diction independently to clear the slight Southern inflection - I lived for 10 years in Milan and only 6 in Palermo, then I learned English, and this helped me a lot with the emphasis and on co-productions.
GL: What are the best directors you worked with?
DG: With many I was fine. Mario Caiano, Mario Bava, Dino Risi more than with the others ... but with Paul Naschy, the Inquisition director, I finally understood what exactly the professional relationship between an actress and a director. No one had ever before pushed me to improve a scene or to deepen a mood. The only thing I regret is that the film was not brought to Italy. There is only a version in English and Spanish.
GL: Your activities in film includes the period 1967 - 1980. Why did you retire so early?
DG: I retired for a couple of reasons. The first, because between 1978 and 1980 we had a great crisis in Italian cinema and as a result many actors, actresses and technicians found themselves without work, myself included. Of the approximately 150 films that were produced a year before we had arrived at about 30 a year. Of these, only 3-4 films were good, the rest were low-level productions. At that time they also closed in Rome several cinemas. Even Studios, Cinecittà, for example, had big economic problems. My agent closed his business and began working as a representative for a home food company. The second reason is that I was 37 years-ol and could not wait until the crisis ended. I was aware that I could work a few more years, because usually in those days there was no future in Italy for middle-aged actresses, except for a few (the situation for male actors is different; they are privileged from that point of view). As a middle-aged actress you must have another economic input to survive and be able to calmly select the quality of the movies that they offer you, even if they do offer them. So, I decided to stop my career, in time so I could build another. Which I did, which was tough.
GL: We reviewed recently ... “Quante volte… quella note” by Mario Bava, appreciating your performance. What memories do you have of that movie?
DG: It was a difficult film for me because it required nudity. Of course, sometimes a bit of it was almost normal but never totally naked. I stood in agreement with the direction before signing the contract and if the director did not agree (or I could not convince him) he would not sign, and would give up on the film. Mario Bava was one of those inclusive. He said that nudity could be solved with special shots and a cash-sex, a flesh-colored patch that is applied to the private parts. What they did not tell me was that the problem was removing it later! I remember once, I was fresh from Miss Italy, Carlo Lizzani offered me a role in a film that he was preparing. It was a story of a middle-aged man and a young girl. My role was that of the girl. Lizzani asked if I had trouble with the nudity. Certainly I did. I refused the film and he did not try to reach an agreement. However, returning to the Bava film, what little has been said that how many times a movie that “Quante volte… quella note” was written with the idea of repeating a bit 'of the Rashomon scheme, an old Japanese film of 1950, black and white, directed by Akira Kurosawa, and that imposed on the international scene the actor's skill of Toshiro Mifune. The film was a parable about how everything is relative and as a very small event in our lives told by several witnesses can show different aspects of the truth. In fact, the message you wanted to convey is that there is no absolute truth.
GL: Another important film is “Il tuo vizio è una stanza chiusa” (Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key) - 1972 by Sergio Martin.
DG: In fact I do not remember much about the movie. Mine was a secondary role. However, I was happy to work with Luigi Pistilli, an actor I admired for his skill.
GL: The western genre. You have made a few?
DG: It really is not one that my face would lend itself particularly to, but I could recite in English, which really helped me with the co-productions. At that time only the great actresses like Sophia Loren or Claudia Cardinale, and maybe a couple more, could recite in English. There were young actresses, the average cost, which could fit in a multilingual environment - usually English - as in co-productions with the Americans.
GL: And then so many sex comedies, the rage, like “La portiera nuda” and “L’adolescente”. What do you remember about that period?
DG: If I remember it correctly “La portiera nuda” I had only two scenes, I was the owner of a boutique, and I have no memory of its history. Among the sex comedies of the time I like to remember “L’adolescente”, by Alfonso Brescia and “La cameriera”, by Roberto Montero. I was the lead actress and the characters were well defined. I really enjoyed to interpret “La cameriera” and it gave me professional satisfaction.
GL: What about the films of the 1970s?
DG: From 1967 to 1978 there was a lot of work for everyone. Tempers were light and everyone thought it would go on like this forever. I remember that time with great satisfaction. I am proud to have worked with Jeffrey Hunter, in “Find a Place to Die”, directed by Giuliano Carmineo. Jeffrey was famous in the world for playing the part of Jesus in “The King of Kings” in 1961. As a young girl how many times I had seen that movie! John Ireland, (seen in many films such as with John Wayne) in “The Challenge of McKenna”, by Leon Klimonsky. And also Peter Lee Lawrence, of which I was in love when I was 13, and to see him on the set next to me in “The 4 Gunmen of the Holy Trinity” threw me into utter confusion. Too bad I only said 'Good morning' and my scripted lines. Or Henry Baird, a British stage actor, in “Trinità e Sartana figli di…” Trinity and Sartana Are Coming” by Mario Siciliano. Even with Brad Harris, famous for Maciste and Hercules in the peplum films, known in the film “The House of Fear”, 1974, with Raf Vallone, directed by William Rose. They're all actors who have taught me something that professionalism is important. So that was the cinema of the '70s for me. Of course, from a certain point of view they are bad movies, but not the people who worked on them. But then, slowly, the work had started to fall off and we officially entered the famous crisis of cinema. I refused many scripts because it included that be totally naked: the first plans for me were only from the shoulders down ...
Filmography of Daniela Giordano (November 7, 1947, Palermo, Italy)
I due barbieri di Sicilia (1967) di Marcello Ciorciolini
Play boy (1967) di Enzo Battaglia
Joe… cercati un posto per morire [Find a Place to Die] (1968) di Giuliano Carnimeo
Il lungo giorno del massacro [The Long Day of the Massacre] (1968) di Alberto Cardone
Susanna… ed i suoi dolci vizi alla corte del re (1968) – I dolci vizi della casta Susanna – di Franz Antel (alias François Legrand)
Quante volte… quella notte (1968) di Mario Bava
Captain Coignet (1969) di Jean Claude Bonnardot (TV Francia)
Un esercito di 5 uomini [The 5-Man Army] (1969) di Don Taylor e Italo Zingarelli
Vedo nudo (1969) di Dino Risi
Ombre roventi (1970) di Mario Caiano
… e vennero in quattro per uccidere Sartana! [4 Came to Kill Sartana] (1969) di Demofilo Fidani
Bolidi sull’asfalto – A tutta birra! (1970) di Bruno Corbucci
Buon funerale amigos! … paga Sartana [Have a Nice Funeral’] (1970) di Giuliano Carnimeo
La sfida dei Mackenna [Amen] (1970) di Leon Klimovsky
Un’estate, un inverno (1971) di Mario Caiano (1970) (TV – Rai)
Il suo nome era Pot … ma lo chiamavano Allegria [His Name was Pot... They Called Him Allegria] (1971) di Lucio Giachin (Dandolo) e Demofilo Fidani (si fanno chiamare Dennis Ford)
I quattro pistoleri di Santa Trinità [The 4 Gunmen of the Holy Trinity] (1971) di Giorgio Cristallini
Una tomba aperta… una bara vuota (La casa de las muertas vivientes) (1972) di Alfonso Balcazar Granda
Il tuo vizio è una stanza chiusa e solo io ne ho la chiave (1972) di Sergio Martino
Scansati… a Trinità arriva Eldorado [Stay Away from Trinity When He Comes to Eldorado] (1972) di Dick Spitfire (Diego Spataro, in realtà regia di Aristide Massaccesi)
Trinità e Sartana figli di… [Trinity & Sartana Those Sons of Bitches] (1972) di Mario Siciliano
Violenza contro la violenza (1972) di Rolf Olsen e Lee Payant
Le avventure del Barone Von der Trenck (1973) di Fritz Umgelter (TV Germania)
La casa della paura (1974) di William L. Rose
La cameriera (1974) di Roberto Bianchi Montero
Malocchio – Eroticofollia (1975) di Mario Siciliano
Roma violenta (1975) di Marino Girolami (Franco Martinelli)
Il vizio ha le calze nere (1975) di Tano Cimarosa
Il fidanzamento (1975) di Giovanni Grimaldi
L’infermiera di mio padre (1976) di Mario Bianchi
Karamurat, la belva dell’Anatolia (1976) di Herb Al Bauer (Natuk Baytan) e Ernst Hofbauer
L’adolescente (1976) di Alfonso Brescia
La portiera nuda (1976) di Luigi Cozzi
Le impiegate stradali – Batton Story (1976) di Mario Landi
Un toro da monta (1976) di Roberto Mauri
Starcrash – Scontri stellari oltre la terza dimensione (1977) di Luigi Cozzi
Inquisición – Inquisizione (1978) di Paul Naschy (Jacinto Molina)
Il braccio violento della mala (1979) di Sergio Garrone
Le segrete esperienze di Luca e Fanny (1980) di Roberto Girometti e Gérard Loubeau
Help Me Have No Human Ways (2015) di Chris Milewski