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Film / The Sign of Venus

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Sophia Loren, Head-Turning Beauty

The Sign of Venus is a 1955 comedy from Italy, directed by Dino Risi.

It focuses on two young cousins in Rome, looking for love. Agnese (Sophia Loren, already a big star in Italy but still a couple of years away from breaking out internationally) is a jaw-dropping beauty, indeed perhaps too beautiful, as men swarm around her like bees to honey. She complains that no one respects her as a person. Her cousin Cesira (Franca Valeri, who co-wrote the screenplay), isn't all that sympathetic. Cesira is lonely and would like to find a man, but despite being pleasantly pretty she can't get any male attention while in the company of her sexy cousin. She goes to a fortune teller, who reads the tarot cards and says that Cesira is entering the "period of Venus", a time when she has a good chance of finding true love.

Vittorio De Sica didn't direct this one, but appears onscreen as Alessio, a charming but stone-broke poet who takes Cesira out on a disastrous date.


  • Comforting Comforter: Cesira tucks Alessio in when he lies down on his bed, in a moment that's quite sad, since he's obviously a con artist taking advantage of her gullibility.
  • Conspicuous Trenchcoat: Romolo is introduced looking as suspicious as possible, with a conspicuous trenchcoat and dark sunglasses. He sneaks into the department store to avoid arrest by the police for stealing a car.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Did Not Get The Guy, for unlucky-in-love Cesira. She loses out on Ignazio to her sex bomb of a cousin, Agnese. Depressed from that turn of events, she agrees to meet Romolo for coffee, but he's immediately arrested for stealing the car he's been trying to sell the whole movie. For a brief moment near the end it seems like she might wind up with Alessio, until he too dumps her, for the glamorous Fortune Teller. The movie ends with a depressed Cesira getting on the tram and heading to work.
  • Fortune Teller: Cesira goes to a tarot card reader, who looks at the cards and says that Cesira is entering a propitious time for romance, and will meet three men who are possible candidates.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: The two women are cousins, but the dynamic is the same. Agnese is the shockingly sexy one, who complains about how she has to beat men off with a stick. Cesira is the plain one, who in point of fact is hardly plain—she's pleasantly pretty—but still seethes with resentment over her gorgeous cousin overshadowing her and getting all the attention from men.
  • Gratuitous English: Cesira is witness to a fender-bender. The car at fault is driven by a man whose girlfriend insists on talking to him in English despite the fact she's plainly Italian. An irritated Cesira (she had smiled at the handsome driver before noticing the girlfriend) says "Why don't you speak Italian?".
  • Head-Turning Beauty: Agnese. Often quite literally; a Running Gag in the film has men continually stopping and doing Double Takes whenever Agnese passes them in the streets. When the cousins go to a party almost all the men flock around Agnese and try to get her attention, while Cesira watches from the sidelines.
  • High-Class Glass: Alessio screws in a high-class glass to look over the letter that Cesira the typist has typed up for him. The joke is that he is so broke that he can't even pay for the letter.
  • Maiden Aunt: The two protagonists live with a maiden aunt, Aunt Tina, who is constantly carping at them for what she views as immoral behavior. When Tina expresses disgust at the idea that Cesira might let a boy kiss her, Cesira shoots back with "No one ever kissed you!".
  • Mathematician's Answer: Tina expresses disapproval of her nieces being career girls and says that a woman's place is in the home. When Cesira says that it's the modern age and that either sex can work, Tina answers "You aren't either sex!"
  • Meet Cute: Cesira meets Ignazio the handsome fireman when she's a witness to his car plowing into another car that cut him off.
  • Open-Door Opening: Opens with a shot of an apartment building, and the camera zooming in on a window, which Cesira then opens. She's looking across the courtyard at another apartment, where a handsome doctor is getting ready for his wedding.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Agnese and Ignazio are at the side of the road looking at the stars, and they kiss. Apparently they had sex outdoors, because in the next scene she's tearfully telling him she's pregnant.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Sometimes, Agnese clearly enjoys male attention, but just as often she's smacking men for their wandering hands or complaining that men won't leave her alone. In one scene she breaks out crying, saying that no one respects her and the only thing anyone cares about is how she looks. It doesn't help that Agnese is hopelessly naive. That crying scene comes after she guilelessly accepts a secretarial job despite having no secretarial skills whatsoever, and she's genuinely shocked when the Dirty Old Man who hired her grabs her butt.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Aunt Tina is dogmatic about traditional gender roles and believes that women should stay in the kitchen and take care of the home.
  • Supermodel Strut: In an early scene where Agnese complains about men hitting on her, Cesira says that part of the problem is Agnese's sexy way of walking. Then she proceeds to demonstrate the sashaying strut that Agnese apparently isn't even aware of.
  • Visual Title Drop: The tarot reader, reading Cesira's fortune from the cards, shows her the Empress card, which features a woman holding the sign of Venus.
  • The X of Y: The Sign of Venus