Seven Beauties (1976): Lina Wertmuller’s Oscar-Nominted Film

In 1976, Italian actor Giancarlo Giannini won Academy recognition for his performance in Lina Wertmuller’s controversial movie Seven Beauties.

This film put Wertmuller, nominated as writer and director, at the front rank of international filmmakers. Giannini excelled as the contemptible Neapolitan macho, driven to selfdegradation in his attempts to survive the horrors of WWII.

After killing the pimp of one of his sisters, Pasqualino joins the army to avoid prosecution, but deserts it and is sent to a Nazi concentration camp, run by a big, monstrous woman (played by American Shirley Stoler), who forces him to provide sexual services as a slave.

Nonetheless, his performance would not have been singled out by the Acting Branch if the movie had not been critically acclaimed and box office hit.

Oscar Alert

Oscar nominations: 4

Foreign-language film (Cinema 5 Ltd., Medusa Distribution Production)
Director: Lina Wertmuller
Screenplay (Adapted): Lina Wertmuller
Actor: Giancarlo Giannini

The awards in these categories went to “Black and White in Color” as foreign film; John C. Avildsen as director of “Rocky”; Paddy Chayefsky’s screenplay for “Network,” a film for which Peter Finch also won the Best Actor (posthumously).

Director Alert

After making a number of well-received art films, such as “The Seduction of Mimi” (1972), “Love and Anarchy” (1973), “All Screwed Up” (1974) and “Swept Away” (1974), Wertmuller became the first women ever to be nominated for the Best Director Oscar; it would take another 17 years for the next woman, also foreign, Jane Campion for “The Piano,” to be recognized by the male-dominated Directors Branch.