The Black Orchid
by Martin Ritt


Italy (Venice) - September 4, 1958 - Orchidea nera -
USA (New York City, Plaza Theater) - February 12, 1959 - The Black Orchid - 96'
West Germany - March 24, 1959 - Die schwarze Orchidee - 95'
France (Paris) - April 24, 1959 - L'orchidée noire -
Spain - 1959 - Orquidea negra - 95'
(attendance: 709)

Italian poster German poster French poster American poster


Tony Bianco, happily married to Rose, who has given him a son, is killed during a conflict between gangs of criminals. Left a widow, Rose finds a job in an artificial flower shop. One night at the home of friends she meets Frank Valente, a widower with a twenty-year old daughter. Frank’s daughter rebels against her father’s interest in the ‘gangster’s widow’, and actually breaks her own engagement because she doesn’t want to leave him. At first Rose is desperate and decides to give up the idea of marrying Frank, but then she decides to confront the young woman who is opposed to her father’s marriage, and succeeds in making her change her opinion. And so the widowed couple and their families find happiness at last. Story and screenplay: Joseph Stefano.


Paramount Studios, Hollywood, CA (USA)
Los Angeles, CA (USA)

Shooting dates: January – March 1958


Sophia Loren (Rose Bianco)

Anthony Quinn (Frank Valente)
Ina Balin (Mary Valente)
Jack Washburn (Tony Bianco)


Photography (VistaVision):
Robert Burks
Alessandro Cicognini
Makeup Artist:
Wally Westmore
Edith Head
Hair Stylist:
Nellie Manley
Still photographer:

Bob Willoughby, Allan Grant
Carlo Ponti and Marcello Girosi for Paramount


Sophia Loren is awarded the Volpi cup for this film for best actress at the XIX Venice Film Festival but in America neither the critics nor the public show much appreciation for it.

Sophia meets Elvis Presley at the Paramount Studios cafeteria while he is filming King Creole. Still photographer Bob Willoughby happens to be there and takes memorable shots of Sophia and the King.

The role of Rose was initially written for Anna Magnani but she had other commitments.
Sophia played in her career three times opposite Anthony Quinn: Attila (1954) and Heller in Pink Tights (1960).

Sophia's voice is dubbed by Marion Degler (German).


"Though she was one hell of a female, with what we might call a 'high fuckability quotient,' she was also a very superior lady. I was impressed by her on every level. I think she is a fine actress - often a great one."
Martin Ritt. Martin Ritt Interviews

"... a lightly confected romance... Sophia Loren mercifully makes nonsense of the film's misleading title."
Peter John Dyer, Monthly Film Bulletin

"With her plainly slant-eyed hauteur and her Simonetta chic, she is not what you'd call a quite convincing representative of the immigrant school."
Bosley Crowther, New York Times, 13 feb 1959

"Despite the commercial values of the film, Sophia Loren asserts herself with appropriate force in the role of the protagonist (...) her talents as a very sensitive actress assert themselves worthily, imparting color to the richest and most cultivated nuances of Rose's character."
Gian Luigi Rondi, Tempo.

"There's no mystery in the awarding of the recent "best actress" prize to Sophia Loren at the Venice Festival. In "The Black Orchid"... Miss Loren is at her best in a many-sided, intelligent portrayal of a woman who has had much sorrow and can scarcely believe that her luck has changed."
Theresa Leob Cone, Oakland Tribune, 12 mar 1959

"If you haven't been to the movies since Sophia Loren was just another dumb Italian import with a big bust you are in for another pleasant surprise. She has matured - also under good direction - out of all recognition, and is perfectly successful in this role."
The Daily Gleaner, 12 dec 1959

"Loren won the Best Actress Award at the 1958 Venice Film Festival for this role, but it failed to ignite any large commercial receipts despite superb performances by both stars, tight direction by Ritt, and what appeared to be a semiautobiographical script from Joe Stefano..."
TV Guide

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© Excelsior Communication - 2007

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