Heller in Pink Tights
by George Cukor


USA (New York, Capitol Theater) - March 16, 1960 - Heller in Pink Tights - 100'
Spain - April 17, 1960 - El pistolero de Cheyenne - 99'
(attendance: 15,241)
France (Paris) - September 23, 1960 - La diablesse en collant rose
Sweden - October 24, 1960 -
Vild blondin i västern
 West Germany - November 25, 1960 - Die Dame und der Killer - 100'
Italy - September 1961 - Il diavolo in calzoncini rosa / La ragazza del Texas

American poster French poster Belgian poster Spanish DVD


The West, around 1880. The drama troupe Healy is on tour in the endless expanses of the West. The owner of the troupe, Tom Healy, is hopelessly in love with his leading actress Angela Rossini. After various fiasco es and numerous adventures, among which the rescue of a group of workmen attacked by Indians, the exuberant Angela actually becomes the owner of a theatre in Bonanza and saves her outlaw lover from the hired guns of a sinister individual. But of course her love remains with the rough and ready Tom Healy. (Enrico Lancia)
Based on the short story 'Heller with a Gun' by Louis L'Amour.


Paramount Studios, Hollywood, CA (USA)
Sabino Canyon, Tucson, AZ (USA)

Filming dates: January through April 1959

Shooting begins in Hollywood, moves to Arizona on February 9 and returns to Hollywood in March


Sophia Loren (Angela Rossini)
Anthony Quinn (Tom Healy)
Steve Forrest (Clint Mabry)
Margaret O’Brien (Della Southby)
Edmund Lowe (Manfred ‘Doc’ Montague)


Photography :

Harold Lipstein (Technicolor)
Daniele Amfitheatrof
Makeup Artist:
Wally Westmore

Costume design:
Edith Head

Nellie Manley
Still photographer:
Leonia Celli
Carlo Ponti and Marcello Girosi for Paramount Pictures


Working title: Heller with a Gun

Sophia's lowest weight on film is in Heller in Pink Tights for which she weighs 126 lbs and was laced into corsets that gave her an 18-inch waist.

"The pink tights referred to in the title deserve mention because they represent an earlier convention of the sex symbol. Nineteenth-century dramas sometimes afforded opportunities for actresses to appear in some form of implied nudity, usually a flesh-pink body stacking. This costume aroused exceptional acclaim for various actresses of that period, including Ada Mencken, to whom Loren's character refers by starring in Mazeppa. In this play within the movie, Loren, strapped to an actual horse, rides through the theater in a pink body stocking, accented by a bit of drapery that covers one breast. Such plays drew crowds, naturally, and created superstar followings for the actresses."
Deirdre Donohue, Sophia Style.

A plumed hat Sophia is wearing catches fire on the set on January 28. The blaze is quickly extinguished and Sophia returns to work.

Sophia is taken to a Hollywood hospital on April 2 for a possible broken arm after Steve Forrest fell on her while they were wrestling during a scene.

Sophia makes the mistake of wearing velvet trousers in her first horseriding attempt. As a result she winds up with a bad case of saddle sores.  Those actual scenes showing Sophia going thataway on a horse are cut from the script. As Sophia says it: "I flunked the riding lessons. I just couldn't get the rhythm of it."

The role is offered to Marilyn Monroe but she refuses the part considering it rubbish.


“I thought Sophia Loren very good, light and humorous. She's really adorable.”
George Cukor

“I could never get close to her. If she wants to know you, she sets the ground rules. Otherwise, it's forbidden territory behind a piece of beautiful crystal-clear unbreakable glass."
Anthony Quinn

"Miss Loren, shapely in pink tights and supine upon a ponderous nag, may be a bit more chic than was Miss Menken but the implication is there... Miss Loren is remarkably appealing, as warm and natural as she has been in anything since that little pizza item in "The Gold of Naples", which was probably her best."
Bosley Crowther, New York Times, 15 mar 1960

Sophia Loren, with very becoming blond hair and looking absolutely stunning in her costumes, demonstrates, as she has once or twice before, that she has a definite flair as a comedienne.
Theresa Loeb Cone, Oakland Tribune, 21 mar 1960

"Loren and Quinn, both miscast, give performances that are alternately inadequate or inappropriate".
TV Guide

“In Heller the director, the renowned George Cukor, made me perform in a blond wig on the strings of a marionette. At least, that's what I thought at the time. He made me mimic his intonations, his gestures, his facial expressions, even his eye movements; every day on the set was a nightmare because I didn't feel as if I belonged to myself any more, and felt that I had been forced to subjugate my identity as an actress. It was a new technique, one I had not experienced before, and I was thrown by it.”
Sophia Loren (Hotchner)

"It was George Cukor's idea that I should look entirely different for Heller, and now that I've seen the rushes, I know he was right. It makes me look softer - more feminine. That I like very much."
Sophia Loren

Copyrights for all photos belong to their respective owners.
© Excelsior Communication - 2007

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