Africa sotto i mari

by Giovanni Riccardi


Italy - March 20, 1953 - Africa sotto i mari - 94'
West Germany - December 11, 1953 - Weiße Frau in Afrika - 90'
Spain - 1953 - África bajo el mar - 88'
France (Nice) - July 14, 1954 - Sous les mers d'Afrique -
Belgium - Sous les mers d'Afrique / De duikers van de dood -
USA - Africa under the Seas -

Belgian poster Italian poster Spanish poster German poster


Sebastiano Lama, a wealthy industrialist, makes his yacht available to a group of technicians who are on a scientific expedition in the Red Sea. His act is not totally without self-interest, since he wants to divert his daughter Barbara, a spoiled and impulsive young woman, away from bad company and inappropriate flirtations. He finds an ally in Paolo, the captain of the yacht, but from the start Barbara is rebellious toward everyone. To overcome boredom, Barbara, unknown to all, attempts an exploration in the underwater depths, but becomes entangled in a net and would have drowned had Paolo not come to her rescue. In addition to saving her, Paolo manages to arouse her interest in the scientific work the expedition is undertaking, with the happy result that she eventually falls in love with him. (Enrico Lancia)
Story by Alessandro De Stefani.


Island (Italy)

Titanus Studios, Rome (Italy)
Moroccan coast (Morocco)

Filming dates: summer 1952.


Sophia Loren (Barbara Lama)
Steve Barclay (Paolo)
Umberto Melnati (Sebastiano Lama)
Alessandro Fersen (prof. Krauss)


Photography (Ferraniacolor):
Angelo Jannarelli
Underwater shots:
Giovanni Roccardi, Masino Manunza
Angelo F. Lavagnino
Makeup Artist:
Gaspare Carboni
Still photographers:
G.B. Poletto, Giovanni Roccardi - 
Titanus - Phoenix


Not yet active as a producer for Sophia's films, Carlo Ponti hires Mario Natale, a renown press agent, to promote the movie Africa sotto i mari by distributing pictures of young Sophia wearing a bikini. After two years of laborious work in more than ten films, Sophia is now for the first time the lead star of a movie under the new name Sophia Loren.

The new name (Sophia Loren) is introduced by producer Goffredo Lombardo who does not like the name Lazzaro. Loren is derived from the name of Swedish actress Märta Torén, with whom he has worked on the movie Maddalena, and Sofia is now spelled in English, which was quite common trend for artists at that time. Sophia is not too enthusiastic at the idea of changing her name since she has known success for some time in several fumetti under the name Lazzaro. But she does.

Sophia's contract does not include her filming on the Moroccan coast. Her mother demands that her cachet be doubled in order to let her go. His uncle goes along with her. She is doubled by a young Italian swimming champion for the scenes which require high dexterity under water.
Bernard Degioanni, Sophia Loren


Sophia's swimming results in Africa Under the Seas were not criticized, most of all because the majority of the viewers seemed more interested in the provocative graces of her body than in the style of her stroke. It was the film, instead, which came under strong attack.
Stefano Masi, Sophia.

“(Sophia Loren) as a woman is not just noteworthy, she's extremely noteworthy.”
Leo Pestelli, La Nuova Stampa.

"My appearance in Africa under the Seas, a B-minus picture at best, did not create a ripple on the surface of the cinema waters. A large number of pinups of me in bathing suits were distributed but I was still seeking that all-important part that would give me an opportunity to do more than dog-paddle underwater with an oxygen tank on my back."
Sophia Loren, Living and Loving.

"¡El mar se hizo más bello cuando lo surcó una sirena Sofia Loren!"
Publicidad Gisbert, Arenal

Copyrights for all photos belong to their respective owners.
© Excelsior Communication - 2011

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