TV Highlights

What was on Saturday 20th September

Sophia: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Sky Arts2 - 9.15pm

Who's in it?

Sophia Loren – perhaps the most famous Italian actress ever to have graced the screen, had her life put under the lens in this sweeping documentary. Singing her praises and spreading gossip were other icons, including Woody Allen.

In a nutshell

Screen goddess. It's a phrase that's thrown around a lot these days – you just need a pretty face and a couple of blockbusters to your name. But Sophia Loren's the real deal: an embodiment of old school silver screen glamour, a figure from an era when becoming a celebrity was the preserve of a chosen few, rather than the stated career goal of every other kid leaving high school these days (hurrumph!).

This film reminded us that, despite her queenly countenance, Loren actually came from below the poverty line and got her big break by accident, thanks to a beauty contest. Not so different from today's reality show breakthroughs after all, it seems. Perhaps tactfully, the documentary sidestepped the notion that Loren, for all her star appeal, never really appeared in any truly important movies, but – a bit like Marilyn Monroe, whose CV was also largely forgettable – Sophia was bigger than her roles, and bigger than her era.

What's the verdict?

Film buffs would have been in heaven, not just for the exploration of a career in cinema, but for the general celebration of a bygone era in movie history. And it's a reminder that Sophia could give even Audrey Hepburn a run for her money when it came to sheer elegance and class.

Star rating: 4/5

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07-07-2011