While Italian movies robbed Steele of her voice, they liberated her from what it had meant in Britain. Leading ladies in Brit films tended to be well brought-up young things, unless they were lusty and working-class like Diana Dors. Even at Hammer, where sexuality was unleashed regularly via bouts of vampirism, the erotically active roles usually went to continental lovelies (Polish immigrant Ingrid Pitt got her work permit based on Hammer’s claim that no native-born actress could exude such desire and desirability). Steele turns up all-too briefly in Basil Dearden’s Sapphire (1959) as an art school girl, the only kind of role that might allow for both intelligence and a certain liberated attitude. And Steele really was exactly that type. Her appearance is so arresting, you want the movie to simply abandon its plot and follow her into some fresh storyline: it wouldn’t really matter what.
Yeah, that’s one of mine!
Thanks and congratulations to my collaborators and the good folks at the mag and Ms. Steele herself. (Just typing “Ms. Steele” provokes a masochistic frisson Try it!)