Rotten Tomatoes

Movies / TV


      No Results Found

      View All
      Movies Tv shows Movie Trivia News Showtimes
      Valentina Cortese

      Valentina Cortese

      Highest Rated: 100% The Barefoot Contessa (1954)

      Lowest Rated: Not Available

      Birthday: Jan 1, 1923

      Birthplace: Milan, Italy

      A glamorous presence in European and American films from the postwar period until the early 1990s, Oscar-nominated actress Valentina Cortese played both sultry and downtrodded women in films for such acclaimed directors as Orson Welles, Jules Dassin, Michelangelo Antonioni and Francois Truffaut. Born January 1, 1923 in Milan, Italy, she was the daughter of a single mother who left her in the care of a farming family in the Lombardi region. At the age of six, she was relocated to Turin, where she was raised by her maternal grandparents; they, in turn, sent her to Rome to study at the National Academy of Dramatic Arts, where she was taken under the wing of the academy's director, film critic Silvio D'Amico, who provided her with a pathway to acting in films. Uncredited roles led to juvenile character parts in genre films - light comedies, costume dramas - but a turn as a typist driven by postwar poverty into prostitution in "Rome: Free City" (1946) led to more substantive work, including a dual role as Fantine and her daughter, Cosette, in Riccardo Freda's 1948 film version of "Les Miserables." These and other films led to her first role in an English-language film, the British romance "The Glass Mountain" (1949), which cast Cortese as an Italian partisan who falls for pilot Michael Denison. Hollywood came calling after Orson Welles cast her as a Romani woman in "Black Magic" (1949), his co-directorial effort with Gregory Ratoff; a contract with 20th Century Fox - and a name change to "Cortesa" - led to a slew of appearances as exotic, occasionally tragic figures: a saloon singer in "Malaya" (1949), with Spencer Tracy and James Stewart; a prostitute in Jules Dassin's noir classic "Thieves' Highway" (1949); and a concentration camp survivor targeted by a murderer, played by Richard Basehart, in "House on Telegraph Hill" (1951). Cortese married Basehart shortly after the film's release, and both returned to Italy, where, after resuming use of her original surname, she played elegant women of means in a diverse array of arthouse-minded features, including collaborations with Joseph L. Mankiewicz ("The Barefoot Contessa," 1954) Michelangelo Antonioni ("The Girlfriends," 1955), Mario Bava ("The Girl Who Knew Too Much," 1963) and Federico Fellini ("Juliet of the Spirits," 1965). She also worked steadily in stage roles at the Piccolo Theatro in Milan, and became involved with its founder, Giorgio Strehler, after she divorced Basehart in 1960. In the late '60s and early '70s, Cortese traveled a journeyman actor's path, bouncing between prestige projects like Franco Zeffirelli's "Brother Sun, Sister Moon" (1972), television (Zeffirelli's "Jesus of Nazareth," RAI/ITV/NBC, 1977) and character turns in Italian "giallo" (thrillers), action films and crime dramas. She also experienced a career high point during this period, playing an aging film actress in Francois Truffaut's "Day for Night" (1973). Cortese's performance - equal parts comedic and heart-breaking - earned an Academy Award nomination, which she lost to Ingrid Bergman, who famously apologized to Cortese for the win during the ceremony. She then returned to steady work in largely unremarkable films and television projects, save for a minor role in Terry Gilliam's anarchic "Adventures of Baron Munchausen" (1988). Her final acting performance came in Zeffirelli's "Sparrow" (1993), though she remained active in Italian social circles and penned an autobiography, "Many Tomorrows Past" (2012), which served as the inspiration for a documentary about Cortese, "Diva!" in 2017. The Italian Association for the Performing Arts announced her death at the age of 96 on July 10, 2019.

      Highest rated movies

      The Girlfriends poster
      The Girlfriends
      The Barefoot Contessa poster The Barefoot Contessa Thieves' Highway poster
      Thieves' Highway
      Day for Night poster
      Day for Night
      The Adventures of Baron Munchausen poster The Adventures of Baron Munchausen Barabbas poster
      Juliet of the Spirits poster
      Juliet of the Spirits
      The Evil Eye poster
      The Evil Eye




      No Score Yet No Score Yet Buster's Bedroom Serafina Tannenbaum (Character) - 1991
      91% 82% The Adventures of Baron Munchausen Queen Ariadne/Violet (Character) $8.6M 1989
      0% 20% When Time Ran Out Rose Valdez (Character) - 1980
      No Score Yet No Score Yet Satan's Wife Elena Merrill (Character) - 1979
      No Score Yet No Score Yet Widows' Nest Dolores (Character) - 1977
      No Score Yet 70% Kidnap Syndicate Grazia (Character) - 1976
      No Score Yet No Score Yet Appassionata Unknown (Character) - 1974
      42% 77% Brother Sun, Sister Moon Pica Di Bernardone (Character) - 1973
      98% 91% Day for Night Severine (Character) $17.8K 1973
      No Score Yet 36% The Assassination of Trotsky Unknown (Character) - 1972
      No Score Yet 67% First Love Mother (Character) - 1970
      No Score Yet No Score Yet Give Her the Moon Madeleine de Lépine (Character) - 1970
      70% 83% The Secret of Santa Vittoria Gabriella (Character) - 1969
      60% 43% The Legend of Lylah Clare Countess Bozo Bedoni (Character) - 1968
      No Score Yet No Score Yet Listen, Let's Make Love Lallo's Mother (Character) - 1967
      No Score Yet 30% The Possessed Irma (Character) - 1965
      79% 85% Juliet of the Spirits Valentina (Character) $90.7K 1965
      71% 68% The Evil Eye Laura Craven-Torrani (Character) - 1963
      No Score Yet No Score Yet Square of Violence Erica Bernardi (Character) - 1963
      89% 67% Barabbas Julia (Character) - 1962
      No Score Yet No Score Yet Story of San Michele Eleonora Duse (Character) - 1962
      No Score Yet 82% Rocket From Calabuch Eloisa (Character) - 1956
      No Score Yet No Score Yet The Rocket From Calabuch Schoolmistress (Character) - 1956
      100% 83% The Girlfriends Nene (Character) $63.2K 1955
      No Score Yet No Score Yet Count Aquila Teresa Casati (Character) - 1955
      100% 71% The Barefoot Contessa Eleanora Torlato-Favrini (Character) - 1954
      No Score Yet 35% Secret People Maria Brentano/Brent/Lena Collins (Character) - 1952
      No Score Yet 61% The House on Telegraph Hill Victoria Kowelska (Character) - 1951
      No Score Yet 41% Malaya Luana (Character) - 1950
      No Score Yet No Score Yet Women Without Names Unknown (Character) - 1950
      No Score Yet 20% Shadow of the Eagle Elizabeth/Princess Tarakanova (Character) - 1950
      No Score Yet 100% Women in Prison Anna Petrovic (Character) - 1950
      No Score Yet No Score Yet The Glass Mountain Alida Morrosini (Character) - 1949
      No Score Yet 71% Black Magic Zoraida (Character) - 1949
      100% 78% Thieves' Highway Rica (as Valentina Cortesa) (Character) - 1949
      No Score Yet 36% Magia Negra Unknown (Character) - 1949
      No Score Yet 80% Roma Citta Libera Unknown (Character) - 1948
      No Score Yet No Score Yet Bullet for Stefano Barbara Montanari (Character) - 1947