Before Angelina

Before there was Angelina Jolie, there was Claudia Cardinale.   She reminds me of Angelina, but Claudia is earthier, more sensual, more European. Less otherworldly but so much sexier.

I first saw her in the Pink Panther when I was a little kid, and I was mesmerized by her. (So was my dad, who pointed out her attributes.)

I think Angelina comes closest to the old ideal of movie star beauty.   Who else is there that will linger in the memories of today’s young moviegoers like Brigitte Bardo, Vivian Leigh, Sophia Loren, or Ava Gardner?

Are film stars less strikingly beautiful, or just less conventionally attractive?   Is the old   kind of beauty extinct?

What’s your opinion? And who are your candidates for passing the test of time?

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67 Responses to “Before Angelina”

  1. Isabelle Says:

    Claudia Cardianle is one of my all time favorites as far as elegance, charm and sheer beauty are concerned. As I speak french, the word that comes to my mind is “piquante”.
    Who can come close? I really like Charlotte Gainsbourg, with a totally different style.
    And forever, Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly.

  2. Another old biddy Says:

    My favourite “Old Hollywood” beauties are both from the “Golden Age” – Gene Tierney and Veronica Lake.

  3. Iron Chic Says:

    Although I’ve never seen Angelina in anything I consider “good” I have to admit that her presence is enchanting and she is extremely interesting to look at. Marion Cotillard is my current fave. And say what you will about Nicole Kidman, she’s a classy babe.
    I do agree though that the way of the true bombshell is gone.

  4. Cricket9 Says:

    I’ve seen Claudia in many movies; she was beautiful and she could act. Her dance with Burt Lancaster in “The Leopard” is unforgettable. All the actresses mentioned by SW were curvy, and some would be probably called “fat” in today’s tabloids. I think Angelina is shrinking in every movie.
    How about men – do we have stars like Gregory Peck, Burt, Clark Gable, young Marlon Brando etc.?

  5. Jill Says:

    Modern Day…I think Penelope Cruz is movie star glamorous…and she has Bardem…that sexy beast of a man.

  6. Frankie - Swell Vintage Says:

    She is an absolute stunner! I’m a big Sharon Tate girl, especially in ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’, but I do get sad whenever I think about her.

    I agree about Penelope Cruz, she has a very Bardot-esque vibe about her.

  7. Witch Moma Says:

    My dad pointed out Claudia Cardinale to me also – men must ‘ve loved her.
    Other candidates;
    Anne Bancroft, Diane Keeton, Michell Pfeiffer & Nicole Kidman. All managed beautifully to transcend several decades on the screen – not easy to do.

  8. Cricket9 Says:

    I liked Nicole Kidman much more with her original face.

  9. E Says:

    Cate Blanchett (Heburnesque)
    Tilda Swinton (Garboesque)
    – if this posts twice can you delete one Sister W?

  10. Dru Says:

    Oh, I think Penélope Cruz is a beauty for the ages, as is Marion Cotillard. Interestingly, though, their best work has not been in Hollywood, Inception and Vicky Cristina Barcelona notwithstanding- they’re a million times better in Spanish and French.

  11. Dru Says:

    And yet, I really do like the looks of Charlotte Gainsbourg and Kirsten Dunst- two relatively unconventional beauties by Hollywood standards, who are celebrated for that difference.

    I really don’t know whether I should be talking about this at all, Sister- I’m more likely to remember Summer Glau or Morena Baccarin in twenty years’ time than any person from the big-time movies.

  12. candy Says:

    natural “gone with the wind” : Greta Garbo, Sophia Loren, BB, marlene dietrich, Claudia Cardinale, Catherine Deneuve, Romi Schneider, Gina Lollobrigida etc..

    not natural: A. Jolie…

    Monica Bellucci, Nathalie Portman and Charlize Theron seem to be the best looking today

  13. annemarie Says:

    Nicole Kidman: wtf? NO.

    Penelope Cruz: yes! yes! yes!

    Angelina: I don’t get it. She’s too unhealthy looking to be sexy. And her bloody lips are too big (sorry).

    Apart from Penelope, I think Monica Bellucci, Sophie Marceau and Kristin Scott Thomas each exude powerful feminine sexuality that’s almost dangerous and yet always dignified.

  14. annemarie Says:

    Note: None of my ladies are Americans. I don’t think Hollywood ladies are far too waxed and sprayed and starved to be able to authentically enjoy being female.

  15. annemarie Says:

    I meant to say: I think Hollywood ladies are far too waxed and sprayed and starved to be able to authentically enjoy being female.

  16. Juli Says:

    In my opinion, no one can touch Audrey Hepburn. As for recent times, my two favorites are Milla Jovovich and Claire Forlani. I think Violante Placido is really lovely as well.

  17. Dru Says:

    Ooooh, more for my bombshell list: Charlotte Rampling, Gong Li, and Eva Green.

  18. Dru Says:

    also, I agree with annemarie- Nicole Kidman is far too stiff to hold any appeal for me (and I am probably the only person in the world who thought Moulin Rouge was rubbish), though she does look better redheaded than blonde.

  19. Jill Says:

    Monica Bellucci…clap, clap, clap!!

  20. Iron Chic Says:

    Apparently Nicole Kidman is DONE with botox!
    Who can ignore her alabaster perfection in Cold Mountain?
    Dru- I forgot about Gong Li, she is stunning.

  21. Make Do Style Says:

    Gong Li, Penelope Cruz, Eva Mendes, are the ones I think of. Angelina is certainly star quality but she lacks something and I have to say she was exceedingly thin in The Tourist whereas she used to be toned and honed but had a decent level of plumpness. I think it is hard to compare today’s crop with the hey day of Hollywood and the star system. Independence breeds anything goes and also I agree with annemarie – I agree with annemaire a lot I should speak to her on the phone we could chat for hours!

  22. Rackk and Ruin Says:

    Charlize Theron. Totally a classic beauty. And a fantastic actress
    Isabel Lucas: Not the best actress. but her looks are undeniable- she’s got the 60s 70s look down!
    Monica Bellluci – Timeless beauty
    Kerri Washington – amazingly beautiful . . . and those cheekbones!

  23. Dru Says:

    Cricket9- no idea which of today’s Hollywood menfolk would really hold up as long-term greats besides Johnny Depp and Colin Firth, but I’ve always thought Heath Ledger was an amazing actor- it’s a tragedy that he died so young. And I think Joseph Gordon-Levitt has potential, too- he’s a fantastic actor who looks like pure sex in a three-piece suit.

    In fact, the hottest actor I can think of who I’m pretty sure will not be forgotten in twenty years’ time, is someone who doesn’t even work in Hollywood- Gael Garcia Bernal (look up pictures if you don’t believe me)

  24. Dru Says:

    Disclaimer: I fancy(ied) all the above rotten as a teenager, so might be biased- but I really do believe they are all brilliant.

  25. Cricket9 Says:

    Dru, I tend to agree; I have an ongoing crush on Johnny Depp (although I hear that his work in “The Tourist” is only so-so), yes to Gael Garcia Bernal, Heath Ledger and Colin Firth. One I don’t get is Colin Farrell…

  26. Elle torro Says:

    Javier Bardem too!

    And Maggie Gylenlenhall, she always comes across as intelligent and self assured, and of course she is beautiful.

  27. Elena Abaroa Says:

    Nowadays I think the only two ladies with the “old glamorous” Hollywood style are Cate Blanchett and Tilda Swinton. They are not the prettiest, but they have the old touch, the charm. Charlize Theron is quite elegant and charming, I really like her, but something is missing in her in my opinion to look like the old Holywood stars. Nicole Kidman used to have it, but the plastic surgery ruined it. Angelina is the person who is closer to the “old beauty”, like Ava Gardner or Lauren Bacall, but she is too skinny and sometines doesn´t look good. Penelope is elegant, sexy and original, I love her (she is Spanish as me), but she is not in the top league, I dont think she is on the style level of Cate and Tilda.
    The other in general are all terrible for me, some very spectacular like Jessica Alba or Megan Fox, but they look tacky and bland, without personality.

  28. Jaimi Says:

    I think Guy Pearce is fantastic. Agreed with others on Gael Garcia Bernal (oh!), Johnny Depp, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Colin Firth.

    Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, and Tilda Swinton are the first three that come to mind when I think of strikingly beautiful actresses today. Vikoria Winge is a lesser known favorite of mine, too.

    I agree with Annemarie that today’s stars are overdone. The ones I think will last all have some uniqueness instead of trying to change their appearances completely (though past icons like Rita Hayworth did that, too) to look more alike.

  29. Andra Says:

    I remember seeing Claudia Cardinale in murky black and white Italian “art” films back in the 50’s when I was trying to find my “style” and thinking European was the way to go. She was stunningly beautiful and, on seeing one of her early films a few months ago, probably a better actress than I gave her credit for at the time.
    My all time favourite and the most beautiful female I have ever seen was Dorothy Dandridge in Carmen Jones.
    I have seen that movie at least 10 times just to see her divine beauty.
    She had such a sad life that ended tragically.
    But check out her photos.

  30. Madeleine Says:

    Another vote for Claudia Cardinale
    Sophia Loren. I remember watching her movies with my mum when I was
    a child, ohhh sophia heavenly blessed beauty whos beauty is ever lasting
    Mae West! Mae West forever. The young Elizabeth Taylor. Nigella Lawson
    before she starting fucking with her face, I liked her big nose and unperfect teeth

    Men = Clark Gable, young Marlon Brando, Keanu Reeves, Robert downey junior

    Audrey hepburn has always annoyed me/never found her attractive or special
    Shes kind of boring. But each to there own. Johnny depp looks to much like my dad
    Depp never really did it for me anyway, but the day I realise he’s a younger version
    of my dad just ruined it completely.

  31. Esme Green Says:

    I’m always a bit ‘meh’ with Angelina, then I see her in a movie and i’m amazed at her beauty. Although I think she looks better with a few extra pounds…

    I admire Tilda Swinton, Cate Blanchett, Jean Serberg, Franka Potente, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minnelli.

    I don’t think the old type of beauty is extinct. I think you just have to dig a little deeper to find it amongst the overdone stars of today.

    Men, hmmmmmmmmm. I’ve always liked ‘northern rough’ blokes like Albert Finney and Christopher Eccleston. They seem like the type who’d roger you senseless and then buy you a pint!

  32. Elaine Says:

    Christopher Eccleston!!! I’m hoping that you watch Doctor Who as well Esme!
    But my soft spot is for Matt Smith despite his odd shaped face.

    I personally think timeless beauty means intelligence so Natalie Portman gets top marks along with Cate Blanchett. French actresses win big for their French womanly ways. Monica Bellucci radiates female sexuality.

    What’s the general consensus on models-turned actresses like Charlize Theron?
    I can’t think of a good example aside from her.

  33. I Appreciate Privacy Says:

    I’ve never heard of this Claudia Cardinale woman before, but I googled her. I don’t think she’s at all attractive. Maybe in motion she’s pretty, but in pictures.. not so much. She doesn’t remind me of Angelina Jolie at all.
    Although, I don’t think Angelina Jolie is all that pretty- striking yes, but not really pretty.
    The French still have beautiful actresses, including the old ladies, like Emmanuelle Beart and Isabelle Huppert.

  34. erika Says:

    i agree with Angelina being too thin. She woud look amazing with more weight on her.
    Also love Penelope, Tilda, Cate, Marion and Julianne Moore and Audrey Tatoo. If you haven’t seen A Very Long Engagement, you have to. Noth Marion and Audrey are in it and it is beautiful and well made with some surprisingly humorous parts. It’s also terribly romantic and sentimental. One of my favorites ever.
    Also Isabella Rosellini. But she is the daughter of Ingrid Bergman so that is too easy.
    I think Jennifer Lopez is really clasically pretty but she doesn’t play it up well. I love that she is not a stick figure.
    And Maggie Gylenhall and Samantha Morton.

  35. Dru Says:

    I agree with the votes for Cate Blanchett, too- she is spectacular. Ditto Tilda.
    Also Audrey Tautou, she’s just mesmerising to look at onscreen.

    erika- I remember that movie, so well! I loved both Marion and Audrey, to those of you who haven’t seen it M is pretty spectacular- at one point she uses a mirrored ceiling to commit a murder. Great stuff.

  36. Farah Says:

    Acting skills aside, Monica Belluci, Salma Hayek, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett and not an actress, Dita Von Teese.

  37. Farah Says:

    And I will throw in Scarlett Johansson as well.

  38. Dru Says:

    More for the consideration: Anjelica Huston, Pam Grier and Uma Thurman (two words: Kill Bill).

    Elaine- models-turned-actresses are fine by me if they can act, or at least make halfway entertaining movies. And several of them do. Christina Hendricks used to be a high-fashion model before quitting to become an actress, and I’d say she’s a pretty decent one, too.

  39. Ana Says:

    Kate Winslet!!

  40. Sister Wolf Says:

    Another Old Biddy – I love both of them too.

    BUT I don’t love Penelope Cruz! I feel bad about this, but I just don’t like her.

    Dru – GONG LI, yes, she is so beautiful. She is a grade A Beauty.

    Andra – Oh god, Dorothy Dandridge is gorgeous, I had no idea!!

    annemarie – I don’t know why Angelina had to be so thin. Something is wrong with her, I think.

    Ana – YES!!!!!!!! I forgot about Kate Winslet, but you’re right, she is a classic Film Star beauty. She is magnificent.

  41. Stella Mayfair Says:

    monica bellucci and gong li are both ridiculously beautiful. also, her me-me-me personality aside, i think tyra banks has an incredible face, as has mrs. david bowie, iman.
    and don’t kill me for this, guys, but whenever i see a pic of that vapid kim kardashian without her pounds and pounds of make up on, i’m convinced that she is a real, 1950s old school movie star beauty. she is forbidden to talk, though, or to bring her family.

  42. Claire Says:

    I think it’s style of make-up, bearing, roles played and mystique more than a type of face or woman that’s been lost. There are a lot more actresses – especially a lot more ‘famous’ actresses now, and a lot more films. A far wider range of genres and film styles, too.. a lot of/most films that come out now just aren’t old-world classy. It’s hard to compare top actresses when they’re in completely different professional context.

  43. Constance Says:

    My favourite woman of all time is Jane Birkin.

    But I agree with Claire, i do think women in the public eye are less beautiful now we just see more of them and the mystique is simply gone. Totally different contexts.

  44. Constance Says:

    Correction “Not Think”

  45. Esme Green Says:

    Goodness me, how could I forget Kate Winslet?

    Faye Dunaway. Susan Sarandon. Winona Ryder.

    Al Pacino, Roy Scheider, Richard Chamberlain.

  46. Esme Green Says:

    Monica Vitti.

    Julie Christie in Billy Liar…

  47. theresa Says:

    Anjelica Huston. but she’s basically passed the test already (I think?)

  48. Mr. San Pedro Says:

    Claudia from the original inside cover of Blond on Blond, the image was removed in 68 and is missing from all subsequent issues.

  49. annemarie Says:

    I’m sick of Tilda Swinton! No: I am sick of Americans professing their love for her! Is it because she embodies a kind of anti-plastic look that is not seen in Hollywood? Or is it because, as this article states, she is “an icon of ancient pedigree”?

    I nearly vomited when I read that. I think there’s something very repulsive about aristophilia, especially in America. Of course, it’s not poor Tilda’s fault. However, she was in the movie I AM LOVE, which is probably the silliest film ever made. She’s a good actress though, I’ll say that for her- she had the shittest non-script to work with and still somehow managed to make you care for her. And she also is very striking. But I refuse to worship her because she’s considered posh, or stylish, or “other-worldly.”

  50. Dru Says:

    annemarie: I’m not American, and I love her anyway. The lagarconne entry says nothing about her pedigree, though (weird word- I always tend to think of it more in connection with dogs, cats and racehorses than human beings).

    Also, in this day and age, talent is at a bit of a premium- people who look as striking as she does and can actually act are a bit rare, to put it mildly. I’d much rather look at her than at the nth blonde starlet Anna Wintour decides to turn into her pet project of the year.

  51. auntkitten Says:

    I think Halle Berry will stand the test of time and Meryl Streep is probably already there.

  52. dexter vandango Says:

    Going way back:

    Hedy Lamar
    Paulette Goddard
    Sophia.. after she had her nose made smaller than her boobs..
    Tuesday Weld
    ..who was more beautiful than Ingrid Bergman???

    Nobody mentioned Catherine Z and Salma H.. too vain and in your face? I say hubba hubba..

  53. annemarie Says:

    Apologies Dru! I actually think Tilda herself is cool.
    However, I’ve noticed that over here in the united snakes she has suddenly become the thinking hipster’s number one celeb. They like to talk about how avant-garde she is (?) and invoke her wonderful aristocratic lineage (La Garconne does describe her as an “icon of ancient pedigree” in that article, btw). Nearly every piece I’ve read about Tilda Swinton online has had in it some undercurrent of snobbery and Eurocentrism (I can’t think of one Hispanic or African-American artist that has inspired the same sort of gushing praise).
    So it’s not her, it’s just the particular tone of the worship she inspires over here that gets my goat.
    Perhaps this is because where I’m from (Ireland; I just have the misfortune of living here) English aristocrats are commonly considered a bunch of useless, inbred cunts. I don’t know why anyone would invoke that as one of the reasons why somebody is cool, unless they are harboring some unconscious beliefs of ethnic supremacy.
    Again, I may be just touchy on this subject because of where I’m from. And also again, I do like Tilda, I just don’t like all the references to her fucking pedigree!

  54. Dru Says:

    annemarie- no need to apologise, really. But I swear, there’s no reference to Tilda’s pedigree anywhere on that page, maybe they changed the line or there’s a continuation of it that I missed.

    I’m with you on the subject of hyped-up aristocrats, btw (Mitfords aside, and even that seemed largely because of the fact that there were so many of them than because they were posh)

  55. Suspended Says:

    Gene Tierney is mesmerising. Her gorgeous eyes stopped me channel flicking one day. I need to see more of her movies. Marilyn Munroe seems like a cliche, but when she’s on screen I can’t take my eyes off of her.

    Most old Hollywood actresses were far more primed and preened than there current day contemporaries, so I don’t understand that criticism.

    Current day, studios have less control over their actors image; Shots of someone jogging in the park, sweaty, hair pulled back, kind of kill the fantasy.

    Then you have the fact that stars are far less chic. I guess when you don’t have the genius of Edith Head sewing you into something super stylish and sexy, then you’re going to pale in comparison.

  56. min Says:

    Favourites: Lauren Bacall and Loretta Young

  57. Sian Says:

    Vanessa Paradis, Natalie Portman and Louise Brooks all have faces to remember

  58. tartandtreacly Says:

    Perhaps this is because where I’m from (Ireland; I just have the misfortune of living here) English aristocrats are commonly considered a bunch of useless, inbred cunts. I don’t know why anyone would invoke that as one of the reasons why somebody is cool, unless they are harboring some unconscious beliefs of ethnic supremacy.

    Americans are fucked up about two things. One is race, and the other is class. For all the palaver about Progress and egalitarianism and self-made men (and women), there has ALWAYS been that fascination with the Old World, a misplaced nostalgia for some king of prelapsarian world inhabited by blue-blooded gentility, so different from the rough-and-tumble Americans!

  59. tartandtreacly Says:


  60. RedHeadFashionista Says:

    She pretty. Angie too pouty. And addicted to babies.

  61. Erika Says:

    I like Tilda because she was the White Witch in the Narnia movie. She was perfect. Also she doesn’t wear a lot of makeup.
    Helena Bonham Carter is also amazing. I’ve admired her forever, she has this great old fashioned look about her.

  62. kikie Says:

    Love Claudia, such a gorgeous woman and so much better sexier then Angelina, who I recently heard from an amazing source, is a complete bitch

  63. Suspended Says:

    Erika – Yes, Tilda was a perfect witch.

    I think the word you’re looking for, that best describes Bonham Carter’s look, is Dusty. Every time I see her I get the urge to whack her with one of those “old fashioned”, curly, wooden rug beaters.

  64. kate Says:

    myrna loy.

  65. Miles Westwood Says:

    Agreed. Stone. Cold. Fox.

    MW. x

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  67. jessica Says:

    I adore Angelina!
    Marion Cotillard is stunning. It is effortless beauty. She never looks like she is trying to hard but I cant take my eyes off of her.
    I’m not gay.
    In my Mila Kunis just oozes SEX! Ridiculous?? Yes, it may be!

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