Legend of the Lost (1957)

Rossano Brazzi
Ibrahim El Hadish
Kurt Kasznar
Sophia Loren
Sonia Moser
Angela Portaluri
John Wayne

Henry Hathaway

Robert Presnell, Jr.
Ben Hecht

United Artists

"I played Dita, a much-abused urchin from the streets of Timbuktu, and John [Wayne] was a desert guide hired by Rossano Brazzi to help him find a treasure lode that had been discovered in a lost city in the Sahara by Brazzi's father, who had been a missionary ... of course, after facing the rigors of sandstorms, tarantulas, rampaging natives, scorpions, thirst, heat and a Brazzi gone mad, John and I fell into each other's arms as we were miraculously rescued by a desert caravan.

Physically, it was one of the most difficult pictures I ever made, and in the course of it I almost died. The only living accommodation in Ghadames was a flimsy, primitive, unheated motel. At night the cold was intolerable, and the only heat I had in my room was a gas space heater installed by the crew. My room was on the ground floor, and as is my custom, every night I carefully locked the windows and door. I have a fear of intruders breaking in that goes along with my innate fear of the dark. On the night about which I am telling you, I began to have ghastly nightmares, unlike anything I had ever experienced in my sleep before. I would half wake from a nightmare, try to rouse myself, but then lapse into sleep again, only to have another horrible nightmare, half rouse, go back to sleep. I fought desperately to wake up, to use my voice, to open my eyes, but I simply could not. I was also aware that I was gasping desperately for air, as if I were having a suffocation dream.

Then, suddenly, a violent thump and a sharp pain in my shoulder as my body fell from the bed and hit the tiled floor. I was awake, but still gasping, as in the nightmare. I tried to get up but I couldn't. All my strength was gone and my head was fogged with panic. The space heater had exhausted all the oxygen in the room and there was nothing for me to breathe but the deadly fumes of carbon monoxide. I was asphyxiating. If I had not fallen from the bed, I would have never surfaced from my coma, but even on the floor, half awake, struggling for breath, I did not have the strength to move or to call for help.

I began to inch myself along the floor toward the door, constantly passing out and reviving. I do not know how long it took me to reach the door. Certainly a long time. By then I was virtually lifeless. I knew I was dying, strangling from lack of air, but instead of succumbing, from deep inside me there arose a pocket of strength. The enormous determination to live - my God, what it can achieve! The so called superhuman effort. A miraculous reservoir. Slowly, slowly, slowly, little by little, I forced myself up until I could reach the knob and open the door. I pitched forward and fell into the corridor, unconscious. Luckily, Rossano Brazzi, coming in late, found me and frantically called the doctor. He said I was just about gone. Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, injections, frantic first aid. I had severe headaches for a week. The doctor said I had been just seconds away from death.

Rossano Brazzi was the personification of the bigger-than-life Latin lover. Perfectly coifed, impeccably dressed, he was a welcome relief, always performing, mimicking, prancing about, seductive looks in every direction, and always, always singing, "Some Enchanted Evening". He had just completed the film version of South Pacific and an endless flow of "Some Enchanted Evenings" erupted from him. He was a splendid partner to work with."

Sophia: Living and Loving by A.E. Hotchner, William Morrow 1979

Variations On A Theme

This was basically the extent of Sophia's own recollections of Rossano on the set of Legend of the Lost. Pilar Wayne, John Wayne's widow, thought (as did her husband) that their friendship extended beyond the bonds of friendship: "It soon became obvious that Sophia and Rossano were close friends. They spent all their off-camera time together," Pilar Wayne recalled. "Duke didn't approve of any of it. He'd grown up in an era where boys could be boys, but girls were supposed to be ladies. Duke could excuse the behavior of Ponti and Brazzi, even though they were both married men, but he couldn't excuse Sophia's. But she had my unspoken sympathy."

Warren G. Harris, the author of Sophia Loren: A Biography thinks otherwise: "The Waynes may have misinterpreted Sophia's relationship with Brazzi, whose wife, Lidia, managed his career and traveled everywhere with him. The Brazzis were longtime friends of Ponti and often socialized with him and Sophia in Rome. If Sophia and Brazzi were romantically involved, there was no real evidence beyond their obvious mutual affection."

"But it's easy to understand why there might have been more to it. For Sophia, the forty-year-old Brazzi, incredibly handsome and romantic, may have been the ideal Italian lover in ways that Carlo Ponti could never be. Long a major star in Italy, he'd recently achieved international success in Three Coins in the Fountain and had just signed for the movie version of South Pacific. For Brazzi, Sophia may have been just another diversion from his marriage of convenience. Mrs. Brazzi, who'd grown quite stout since they wed in 1940, reportedly tolerated her husband's philandering so long as it didn't threaten her control of his career or the lavish lifestyle that it purchased for them."

Not available at this time.

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