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Beaches worthy of an Oscar

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oscarWalking on the soft beach sand in front of the most famous hotels on the Lido Island, the Des Bains and the Excelsior, is not so different from stepping over the mythical red carpet leading to the final soirée of the most coveted movie award, the American Oscar. Some of the most important directors staged here famous scenes of movies that belong to the history of cinema.
From George Lacombe to Woody Allen, from Henry Jaglom to Mario Monicelli, from Luchino Visconti to Sergio Leone, and many others. Actors and actresses were immortalized on these seashores in a moment of rest or during a photographic session. Among the most memorable scenes, we remember the winner of two Oscar prizes, Robert De Niro, and the beautiful Elizabeth McGovern lying on the sand of the Excelsior beach, in a summer night, with the floodlight hotel at their shoulders. The film was the worldwide appreciated masterpiece “Once upon a time in America” (1984).


time in America” (1984). The same hotel and the same beach were a set for “Telefoni bianchi” (1975) by Dino Risi, performed by Agostina Belli, and more recently for the film “Festival” (1996) directed by Pupi Avati, with the whole action taking place on the Lido during the Movie Festival. Unforgettable and dusky, the final scene on the beach of the film “Lo zio indegno” (1989) by Franco Brusati with Vittorio Gasman lying on a deckchair in front of the sea. In 1971, Visconti has turned a large part of his masterpiece "Death in Venice" from Thomas Mann's famous story in the Hotel Des Bains, while for the scenes set on the beach, all highly significant and suggestive, was faithfully reconstructed the Des Bains beach as it was in 1911, on the sandy shore of Lido Alberoni.


The Des Bains beach was the background also for the film “Agostino” shot on the Lido in 1963 by Mauro Bolognini with Ingrid Thulin. And in 1996 the British director Anthony Minghella chose the Des Bains hotel (though passed off as the historic Shepheard’s Hotel in Cairo) for some scenes of “The English Patient” (with Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe and Colin Firth), a movie winner of nine Oscar prizes. And the photo cameras delivered us what the movies could not register.
From the Ciga Hotel Photographic Archives, a series of historical images are coming out: a very young Elizabeth Taylor walking on the beach with her first husband, Nick Hilton, and a young Paul Newman at the times of “Hud”, emerging from the sea after a swimming, the sex-symbol Brigitte Bardot at the top of her career and her beauty, posing on the beach, and Abbe Lane (the divine who upset the dreams of the Italian men during our country’s fi rst boom, both economical and of television) pulling down her shorts and remaining in a small bikini on the beach pier; Anna Magnani and Jean Cocteau in the shade of a beach hut; a young and sneaky Alberto Sordi on the seashore surrounded by boys and girls looking for autographs; a flourishing Claudia Cardinale on the sands of the Excelsior and starlets posing on the beach pedalos and Hollywood stars of the Fifties hidden behind large butterfly sunglasses.
But this is history now ... film and costume history of these mythical golden beaches.