The great Italian star Monica Vitti, who has died aged 90, was perhaps best-known for her enigmatic performances in the classic 1960s films of Michelangelo Antonioni, but she also had a gift for light comedy. Monroe fans may be surprised to learn that she appeared in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1964 stage production of Arthur Miller’s After the Fall, as Maggie, the self-destructive singer who strongly resembles Marilyn.
Following a stormy reception on Broadway (where Barbara Loden, wife of director Elia Kazan, played Maggie), After the Fall was acclaimed in Italy, where critics were less condemnatory of its autobiographical elements. “I was in Naples when Miller came to see the production there and praised Vitti’s performance,” John Francis Lane wrote in The Guardian yesterday. With her own unique blend of sensuality and sadness, Monica Vitti may have been ideally suited to the role.