The Estorick Collection brings La Dolce Vita to Islington

15 May

This week, let’s forget about Islington film locations for a moment. Worry not, we’ll still be talking film stars and Islington. Indeed, movie stars galore in this post, and of the highest calibre: Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Joan Collins, Jack Lemmon, Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, Launren Bacall, John Wayne, Jayne Mansfield, Robert Wagner, not to forget Marcello Mastroianni  and Anita Ekberg. All of them, and many more, are waiting for you in the heart of Islington, at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art.

Estorick Collection

Estorick Collection

Located in Canonbury Square, the Estorick Collection’s latest exhibition, The Years of La Dolce Vita opened on 30th April. We are invited to travel back to 1950s and 60s Rome, where many Hollywood producers and filmakers went to, to shoot at its Cinecittà studios for a fraction of what it would have cost them in California. Those were Cinecittà’s golden years with epic films such as Ben-Hur (1959) and Cleopatra (1963) being made, and young Italian directors producing some of their finest movies.

At a time where the Internet and social media seemed light years from us, and where most people could not travel long distances, how did people know about what was going on in Rome? Thanks to gossip and people magazines, thanks to photographers, thanks to Paparazzi

In fact, the name Paparazzi comes from Fellini’s La Dolce Vita itself. In it, Mastroianni plays Marcello Rubbini, a journalist writing for gossip magazines who works with a photographer friend, whose name is… Paparazzo! Marcello Geppetti (1933-1998) was one those photographers. It is mainly from his archive that the 80 pictures on display at the Estorick Collection are. Here are some of them to whet your appetite.

Audrey Hepburn who shot to fame and won her first Oscar for Roman Holiday (1953) was no stranger to Rome.

1. Estorick La Dolce Vita - Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn, Rome, 1961 MGMC & Solares Fondazione delle Arti

Neither was Rock Hudson, seen here with Cary Grant, who filmed in Italy A Farewell to Arms (1957) and the romantic comedy Come September (1961), which is at the heart of our Hollywood on the Italian Riviera project.

4. Estorick La Dolce Vita - Hudson and Grant

Rock Hudson and Cary Grant at Cinecittà, June 1961 MGMC & Solares Fondazione delle Arti

British actress Joan Collins, whom Lights, Camera…Islington! came across in her early career exiting Holloway Prison was by now rubbing shoulders with Jack Lemmon and Robert Wagner.

9. Estorick La Dolce Vita - Lemmon, Collins and Wagner

Jack Lemmon, Joan Collins and Robert Wagner at “Caffè dell’Epoca”, Rome, October 1961 MGMC & Solares Fondazione delle Arti

Mr Universe 1955 and actor Mickey Hargitay and his wife Jayne Mansfield were having the time of their life.

10. Estorick La Dolce Vita - Mansfield and Hargitay, Rome 1962

Jayne Mansfield and Mike Hargitay leaving “Piccola Budapest”, Rome, October 1962 MGMC & Solares Fondazione delle Arti

From one curvy blonde to another: Brigitte Bardot, Bardot…la la la la la lalaaaaa

2. Estorick La Dolce Vita - Bardot

Brigitte Bardot in Spoleto, June 1961 MGMC & Solares Fondazione delle Arti

In the meantime in Ischia, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were enjoying a break from shooting Cleopatra.

5. Estorick La Dolce Vita - Burton and Taylor

Richard Burton and Liz Taylor kissing in Ischia, June 1962 MGMC & Solares Fondazione delle Arti

We truly enjoyed discovering those Marcello Geppetti’s snapshots on display in The Years of La Dolce Vita. For an hour or so we were mingling with the stars in sunny (and warm) Rome, wondering along Trastevere, Via Veneto, la Fontana di Trevi… I guess the miserable weather made it all the better, not to mention the 3 D experience offered by the Estorick Collection.

The 3-D experience??? Yes, la ciliegina sulla torta (the cherry on the cake as the Italians say). While you go trough the rooms looking at the pictures of the stars having a coffee, enjoying a drink or a meal in a Trattoria, an incredible smell comes from the Estorick Caffè and tickles your nose. How clever! So clever that we ended up extending our stay in Rome for a Frittata of the day, some Gnocchi Sorrentina and 2 Espresso.

No pictures of Marcello? Anita Ekberg? John Wayne? Federico Fellini?

Oh yes. Plenty of those. At the Estorick Collection.

The Years of La Dolce Vita is on until the 29th June.

Fade Out

Enjoyed this post? Feel free to comment, share it with your friends and come to Islington to discover our locations! Don’t forget to send me your pictures.

How to get there?

Islington Film Locations Map

Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art

39a Canonbury Square N1 2AN

Essex Road Train Station (Zone 1)

Highbury and Islington Station (Zone 2)

Buses to Canonbury Road, Essex Road, Upper Street or Highbury Corner

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3 Responses to “The Estorick Collection brings La Dolce Vita to Islington”

  1. nicola baird blogs May 15, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    Hi, I went to that exhibition last week and it is fantastic. What a shame I missed you! Great twist to your usual posts. Nicola http://islingtonfacesblog.com

    • The Unbelievable Mr X May 15, 2014 at 11:49 am #

      Hi Nicola -Arrgghhh Was there on Sunday and thought it would be a nice addition to the blog! Actually realise dlast night when scheduling post that you had written about Estorick Collection as well (look forward to reading it!). We’ll eventually get to meet 🙂

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  1. Islington Film Locations: The Story so Far | Lights, Camera…Islington! - June 5, 2014

    […] Cinema related exhibition, The Years of La Dolce Vita, at the Estorick Collection until the end of […]

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