The Love Specialist

The Love Specialist (Italian: La Ragazza Del Palio) is an Italian-French movie filmed in 1958, and released in the U.S. in 1959 with the title The Love Specialist.

The Love Specialist (La Ragazza Del Palio)
Palio ulivo.jpg
scene from film
Directed byLuigi Zampa
Written byMichael Pertwee
Ennio De Concini
Liana Ferri
Luigi Zampa
Giovanna Soria
Franco Solinas
Giuseppe Gironda
Piero Pierotti
Luciano Martino
Based onnovel by Raffaele Gianelli
Produced byMaleno Malenotti
StarringDiana Dors
Vittorio Gassman
Franca Valeri
Bruce Cabot
CinematographyGiuseppe Rotunno
Edited byEraldo Da Roma
Music byRenzo Rossellini
Cité Films
G.E.S.I. Cinematografica
Distributed byMedallion Pictures Inc. (USA)
GESI (Ialy)
Release date
March 1958 (Italy)
Running time
102 minutes


Diana Dixon, a Texan girl (played by Dors), wins a quiz show jackpot, and uses her winnings (a prize in cash and a brand new Cadillac car) for a trip to Italy. Her car breaks up near Siena where she meets Prince Piero di Montalcino (Gassman), a handsome Italian nobleman. He believes that she must be rich, and she also thinks that he must be wealthy, but that's very far from the truth.

The romance reaches its climax at the traditional Palio horse race where, after Diana breaks up with the prince upon hearing that he bribed the jockey of the rival contrada into throwing the race so that his horse could win, she fast-talks the rival horse's owner into letting her ride. After winning the Palio, she will accept to marry the Prince.



The film was based on a novel which was published in 1957/

The film was known as The Girl from Palio or The Girl Who Rode the Padlio. The casting of Dors and Gassman was announced in April 1957.[1][2] Dors was one of a number of English and American stars making movies in Italy - others included Mamie Van Doren and Steve Reeves.[3]

Dors arrived in Rome in July 1957.[4]

Many of the extras for the horse race scenes were real jockeys, some of which quite known to the Sienese. One of them, Pietro De Angelis (nicknamed "Pietrino"), winner of two previous Palio races, died of a heart attack while the movie was being filmed in August.[5]

The movie was also a springboard for the career of the sole woman jockey of the modern Palio horse race, Rosanna Bonelli, nicknamed "Diavola" but better known as "Rompicollo" ("breakneck") from the name of an operetta written by her father. She raced first in a mock Palio race staged for the shooting crew, in place of the jockey of the "Pantera" team (unbeknownst to the film production) and then as a stuntwoman for Ms. Dors in the victory scenes, riding the mare Gaudenzia. That helped the girl's rise to local fame and to crown her dream to run in the real Palio race of August 16, 1957 racing for the "Aquila" team, her first and last race on Siena's scenic Piazza del Campo, and although she didn't finish in first place like the film's heroine, she was bestowed the title of "honorary jockey" by the "contrada".

Filming was completed by October. Dors and Gassman were to be reunited in Strange Holiday.[6]


Variety called it "colorful, splendidly lensed."[7]

The Monthly Film Bulletin called it "sheer pulp fiction".[8]

Filmink called it "a gorgeous-looking movie, incidentally, in which Dors never appeared more beautiful on screen; there’s also a climax where she gets to win a horse race, the Palio di Siena – more of a triumphant finale than British cinema ever gave her. However, the film was little seen outside Europe."[9]


  1. ^ iana going to Italy Date: Wednesday, Apr. 3, 1957 Publication: Daily Mail (London, England) p 3
  2. ^ GOAL IS 36 MOVIES AT ALLIED ARTISTS: 12-Month Program Studio's Heaviest in 5 Years--Engel Plans Film on Bible Story By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The New York Times. New York Times (17 Sep 1957: 39.
  3. ^ STUDIO ACTIVITY ALONG THE TIBER: Busy Production Slate For Native Talent And Visitors BY ROBERT F. HAWKINS. New York Times 1 Sep 1957: 65.
  4. ^ "Rome". Variety. 10 July 1957. p. 126.
  5. ^ "Horseman Dies Making Dors Film in Italy". Daily Telegraph. August 15, 1957. p. 9.
  6. ^ Andy Hardy's Return Forecast; Diana Dors Will Rejoin Gassman Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 15 Oct 1957: A9.
  7. ^ Review of film at Variety
  8. ^ LOVE SPECIALIST, The "(La Ragazza del Palio)" Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 27, Iss. 312, (Jan 1, 1960): 39.
  9. ^ Vagg, Stephen (September 7, 2020). "A Tale of Two Blondes: Diana Dors and Belinda Lee". Filmink.

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