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Faye Dunaway’s Grace and Grit

Faye Dunaway’s Grace and Grit

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After Jacqueline Bisset and Anna Karina, Locarno becomes home for another great lady of cinema like Faye Dunaway who completes the elegant female trio which will be present on the Festival stage this year. Angel faces characterized by rebellious choices and dispositions which are (at the same time) able to call into question and, sometimes, subvert the cliches correlated to women's beauty on the big screen.

And from this point of view, the biography of Faye Dunaway - who will receive the Leopard Club Award on Friday, August 9th, in Piazza Grande - is not only a collection of movies which have marked the history of cinema, but also a path which condenses oxygen and storms of a whole cultural season. It would be enough to think about his theatrical debut under the eminent gaze of Elia Kazan; at the same time, she moves her first steps into that mine of acting talents represented by the Actors Studio of those years.

And if the passage to cinema gives her the opportunity to work with a great director like Otto Preminger already at her second movie, with Arthur Penn's Gangster Story (1967) she enters one of those "sentinel-movies" that, in spite of their classical structure, are able to assimilate and channel new generational sensibilities in the vast American cinematographic tradition. The duet with Warren Beatty, in fact, proposes once again the legend of Bonnie and Clyde on the backcloth of a juvenile world and apprehension which is already in ferment.

The nomination to Oscar earned with this movie becomes a wind rush which permits her to take part to a series of important films, playing a role next to Kirk Douglas in The Arrangement (Kazan is, once again, the director) and to Dustin Hoffman in Little Big Man (directed by Penn, in 1970). Not to mention her previous escape to Italy, where she meets Marcello Mastroianni in 1968 during the shooting of Vittorio De Sica's Amanti.

Dunaway is characterized by a lofty attractiveness which can evolve into a close presence; in fact, along the Sixties and the Seventies she becomes a popular (and busy) icon who acts in several movies which put her at the centre of screens and attention. Thanks to another great masterpiece like Chinatown (Roman Polanski), in 1974 she is nominated for the second time for Oscar; it is a period of extreme brightness that gives her the opportunity to be inserted into the stellar cast of the claustrophobic The Towering Inferno and to take part to the raids in Sydney Pollack's political thriller Three Days of the Condor.

Finally, in 1977 Faye Dunaway wins Golden Globe and Oscar for Best Actress for her role in Sidney Lumet's Network, which will be rescreened during the 66th edition of the Festival del film Locarno. A seal – even if symbolic – which closes her best decade, but she will come to the fore also some years later, for example in the Nineties when Emir Kusturica gives her a role next to Jerry Lewis and Johnny Depp in Arizona Dream (1993).

Lorenzo Buccella

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