Movie Fan Man: Cinema Connoisseur

Traditional, Artsy, Genre-Within-Genre: A Little Something for Everyone

Soap Opera Meets Giallo Thriller:

Alexa and Her Men

by Tony Nash

(A Part of The Cycle of the Melodic Gialli)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

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Fieras Sin Jaula (Due Maschi per Alexa, Two Masks for Alexa, Two Males for Alexa) (1971) R ****

Curd Jürgens: Ronald Mannering

Rosalba Neri: Alesca (Alexa) Dubois Mannering

Juan Luis Galiardo: Pietro

Emma Cohen: Catherine Mannering Rubens

Eduardo Calvo: Max, Private Investigator

Manolo Otero: Philippe

Mario Della Vigna: Marcel Rubens

Franco Marletta: Pool, the Butler

Pilar Velázquez: Philippe’s Girlfriend

Written by: Francesco Campitelli, Jesús L. Folgar, & Juan Logar

Directed by: Juan Logar

Synopsis: Cuckolded millionaire Ronald Mannering decides to pay back his cheating young wife Alexa and her lover Pietro by killing himself and hermetically sealing them all in an escape proof room. While awaiting the inevitable conclusion Alexa recalls the events that led to this horrible experience.

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Playing more towards a Melodramatic Soap Opera then a Thriller, Two Masks for Alexa is still a very unique film that plays out almost like a play. The majority of the drama takes place within a single space, specifically a bedroom with an adjoining bathroom, though the film does include several scenes outside the room. The use of flashbacks plays a prominent and important role within the film as it reveals the moments, whether they are the truth or not, about how the three primary leads ended up locked together in one singular spot. Ironically, two of the three leads are played as not entirely good and not entirely bad either. That they’re shown as human beings with flaws, hopes, dreams, and fears makes them believable and interesting. A major question that’s left completely ambiguous once the cuckolded older gentleman puts his plan into motion is just how deserving or not the female lead of having what’s happening to her. Co-writer and director Juan Logar packs an extra punch with this point as it certainly points the action in a direction that the viewer doesn’t expect and leaves how they think about certain characters in complete doubt.

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Curd Jürgens, a well-known and respected character actor throughout Europe, known internationally under his pseudonym Curt Jurgens and most remembered for his role as the mad Stromberg in the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, is a fascinating interest as Ronald Mannering. Playing a man clearly at the stage of his life where there’s little hope of feeling new thrills or emotions, Jürgens shows Mannering as a man who in many ways has no illusions of what he can achieve, though this doesn’t stop him from having a kind of mid-life crisis when he meets his daughter’s college friend Alexa. Mannering’s double-dealing standards as it becomes clear via the flashbacks that in spite of knowing Alexa would seek out someone her own age for romantic fulfillment even with his doting nature and the leisure he can wrap around her, he still asks her to marry him. When he decides on a fatalistic plan of revenge, Jürgens’ character of Mannering loses any and all sympathy when how their courtship and what he said of the kind of relationship he was expecting comes to light. This reveal makes what he ends up doing all the more sadistic and crueler, even to the point he’s taunting them in death. Whether Jürgens is playing Mannering as a fool or a complete madman depends on which version the viewer is watching, the uncut Italian language version or the Franco-censored Spanish language original.

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Rosalba Neri, an Italian actress who has the rare distinction of appearing in almost every known genre of film (except Adult films of course!) is sensuous, charming, and even a little devious as Alexa. Neri plays Alexa as a woman who wants to experience all life has to offer in spite of everyone around her saying she should aim for simpler things. Unlike many women attracted to older men, Alexa isn’t necessarily a gold-digger out to swindle a target. She herself admits the money Mannering can bestow upon her can help her to experience life the way she’s dreamed of, but also doesn’t intend to milk him for every scent he has. She’s shown as genuinely caring for Ronald Mannering, even wanting to help him find a new zest for life when it looks like he’s defeatedly settled for a mundane daily existence. When she meets the playboy Pietro at a club as Mannering is set to propose to her, she finds a kindred spirit. While she knows she’s doing Mannering wrong, Pietro’s charm and smile have her wanting him more. Even though she makes it clear she has no intention of taking Mannering for all he has and doesn’t want to do anything to destroy him mentally, Mannering still decides to hurt her the cruelest way he can think of. When she has a moment of clarity, she begins to rethink everything she thought she wanted from life.

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Juan Luis Galiardo, a Spanish actor/leading man, is quite different as Pietro, Alexa’s lover. Little is known about Pietro, but from Alexa’s interactions with him, it’s clear he’s a man who likes to live high, and enjoys the finer things. Smug and arrogant, he uses his masculine allure to draw Alexa back into the world of the Jet Set, where it’s sun, sex, and partying. Unlike Alexa, he enjoys the kickbacks from her relationship with Mannering, and at times she doesn’t like how he exploits the situation. A smooth talker and a gigolo, Pietro’s put Alexa under his thumb, and doesn’t realize how much danger he’s put her in, let alone himself.  A memory from his past, put Pietro in a somewhat different light, but because he willingly chose to throw away what he had, it only really makes him look like a fool.

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Relying more on Drama than Thrills, the film still boasts an atmosphere that leaves the audience uncertain as to what will happen and if what has transpired is all a game. None of the characters, even the smaller ones played by stalwarts like Emma Cohen and Eduardo Calvo form to the social norms that were popular among audiences, both in America and Europe, so there’s little done among the characters to make viewers feel sympathetic or hatred for them. Very unconventional, even for the Gialli genre, as it itself was known to break the rules of convention many times, in that while it boasts some good Suspense, it lacks in any real Mystery. In spite of all this, the film still makes an indelible impression, albeit confusing, and shows the darker side of the love triangle story arc, and offers up some of the more flawed and tragic figures ever brought to life by actors.

(A complete oddity in that it seems to not fully conform to the standards of the Giallo, and falling more into the realm of Douglas Sirk Dramas, Due Maschi per Alexa is an interesting film nonetheless, and worthy of being viewed at least once by fans of the genre and curious first-timers looking for something different.  An interesting script, fine performances from the actors, and beautiful locales make a homogeneous mixture that works well. A definite moderate recommendation. The Blu Ray from X-Rated Media offers high quality audio and picture, looking as good now as it did back in the 1970’s. The only downside is the subtitle translation of the Italian and Spanish audio seems to fall more on dubtitles from a lost English dub, and is also a little inconsistent at times. While not completely making following the story tough, those who don’t understand either Italian or Spanish may have a time of it.)

All images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

For more information

IMDB/Two Masks for Alexa

Wikipedia/Two Masks for Alexa


Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

He Made Being Hammy Work:

A Look at George Hilton

by Tony Nash

(All opinions are of the author alone)

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When a good number of Cult film fans think of George Hilton, they think of an actor who took his work to too high theatrics and overplayed the majority of his roles.

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While in many cases they weren’t wrong, very often his over theatrics served him well in making his parts believable and interesting. Often Hilton tended to play his roles lightheartedly, but when the role called for him to be serious, he could play it straight like a seasoned veteran of the stage. Like with anything else, sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but when it did, it was always a fun ride. Due to Hilton being mostly recognized for his contribution to the Comedy leanings of the Italian Westerns, the notion he was a ham actor stuck with him for the majority of his life, which wasn’t necessarily fair to his talents. In films like Lo Strano Vizio della Signora Wardh (The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh), La Coda dello Scorpione (The Case of the Scorpion’s Tale), Il Corpo Dolci di Deborah (The Sweet Body of Deborah), Mio Caro Assassino (My Dear Killer), and Perche Quelle Strane Gocce di Sangue sui Corpo di Jennifer (What’s That Strange Bloody Flower on Jennifer’s Body/The Case of the Bloody Iris) showed Hilton could be serious, deadly and average, when he chose to be. His long gaze, especially in Deborah and Tutti I Colori del Buio (All the Colors of the Dark) can be read as either neutral, or hiding something, which was one of the limitations Hilton had but could still be effective.

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Like actress Rosalba Neri, Hilton also had the distinction of appearing almost every known genre of film, with the exception of Adult films, a feat few actors can say they’ve reached. Now while this seems like an overstatement, Hilton and Neri did in fact pull this off in that they didn’t conform to one particular genre of cinema, even with Hilton being mostly known for the Westerns and Giallos, he never limited himself, nor was he typed to one particular type of role or genre.

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In the Western Il Tempo degli Avvoltoi (The Time of Vultures/Last of the Badmen) Hilton does very well in the straight part of Kitosch, though some of the character’s motivations can sometimes be undefinable and misguided. Hilton was able to convey a kind of sympathy for the character even with audiences often disagreeing with many of his choices and not seeing the obvious in his new companion. In spite of these continuity issues the character manages remain likeable and maintain a kind of nobility. The majority of his other Western roles, particularly his early 70’s ones, consisted mainly of parody, or borderline parody versions of the classics of the mid 60’s, which in the cases of his takes on the Sartana and The Stranger characters and his original character of Alleluja worked well for the story, but other times things got too silly, which was an injustice to his talent as an actor. When the Giallos came into popularity, Hilton rose in prominence with them. He often played either the heroic lover having to play detective when the woman he loves is in danger or the detective tracking down a serial murderer. Even if his acting was on overload some of the time, Hilton was, and still is, a dedicated actor who took his craft seriously and always brought his “A” game, even if the picture itself wasn’t up to par.

(I highly recommend seeing many of George Hilton’s early Italian Westerns and Giallos, particularly the ones mentioned in this write up. I know he’s very theatrical and his style may border a little on the silly, but he’s still very good when it comes down to a fine performance. He’s still active in the industry today and gladly gives interviews for DVDs and Blu Rays on his versatile career, always happy to regale fans with stories about interactions with other actors and what filming in Italy was like in the old days. What’s especially refreshing about him is his honesty when speaking. When he spoke of the Westerns, he admitted the genre wasn’t his favorite, but certainly loved the enjoyment it gave fans, and was happy to be have been a part of it’s colossal  impact. To my readers, give this guy a chance and you’ll be surprised.)

All images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

For more information

IMDB/George Hilton

Wikipedia/George Hilton

Spaghetti Western Database/George Hilton

Grindhouse Cinema Database/George Hilton

Many of Mr. Hilton’s films are available on Blu Ray and DVD from The US, UK, and Germany

Filed under: Film: Actor/Actress Spotlight

No Crime is Perfect: The Case of the Dumurrier’s

by Tony Nash

(A Part of The Cycle of the Melodic Gialli)

(A Spoiler Free Review)

(This review is of the Italian language version of the film)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

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Una Sull’Altra (One on Top of the Other/Perversion Story) (1969) R *****

Jean Sorel: Dr. George Dumurrier

Marisa Mell: Susan Dumurrier/Monica Weston

Elsa Martinelli: Jane, Photographer Assistant

Alberto de Mendoza: Dr. Henry Dumurrier

John Ireland: Inspector Wald

Riccardo Cucciolla: Benjamin Wormser

Félix Dafauce: The Royal Insurance Official (as Felix de Fauce)

Jesús Puente: Sergeant Rodriguez (as Jesus Puente)

George Rigaud: Attorney Arthur Mitchell

Jean Sobieski: Larry, Trend Photographer

Faith Domergue: Marta, Susan’s Sister

Written by: Roberto Gianviti, Lucio Fulci, & José Luis Martinez Molla (as Jose Luis Martinez Molla) (uncredited assistance from: Massimo Castellani, Franco Ferrari, & Massimo Franciosa)

Directed by: Lucio Fulci

Synopsis: Dr. George Dumurrier is accused of murdering his asthmatic wife Susan. When it’s discovered he’s the beneficiary in her will, and his clinic is facing financial ruin from poor business dealings, Dumurrier is arrested. The only clues lie in a part time nurse who disappeared after the woman’s death, and the recent appearance of a stripper named Monica Weston, who bears a disturbingly similar resemblance to Susan.

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Director Lucio Fulci, hailed as the Godfather of Gore in Italian Horror, proves he could tackle complex and interesting stories with this cleverly done Mystery. What he does to make things more unique is to have the story be not so much about has a crime been committed, but what kind of crime has been committed. The two central characters, George and Susan Dumurrier, are a couple who’ve never been in love; George is a philandering charmer, but he also runs a much-needed clinic in San Francisco, Susan is a beautiful woman too bent on having a cushy lifestyle, but at the same time won’t leave the security her cheating husband’s clinic brings in. When Susan suddenly dies from an apparent overdose of her asthma medication, a surprising barrage of evidence shows up pointing to George as the main suspect. Fulci and his co-writers then weave a web of intrigue including insurance fraud, possible double indemnity, double life living, and murder that all seem to help in putting an innocent man, though his ethics are questionable, in the Gas Chamber. While released at a time when the Giallo was still in its infancy, this film, along with Il Dolce Corpi di Deborah (The Sweet Body of Deborah), helped to reinforce the trend and motifs set by Mario Bava a few years earlier. The use of subjective camera work, surreal imagery, and jazz/pop inspired scoring were some of the keys to the Giallo becoming a staple within the Italian film world.

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What sets this Giallo apart from the others is that it has the rare distinction of having exterior scenes shot in the United States. With the film being set in San Francisco, Fulci and the producers managed to get the OK from Hollywood to shoot on location in the streets, highways and some buildings. The only interior scene filmed in the States was in the real San Quentin Penitentiary and its actual Gas Chamber, the producers managing to secure permits most Hollywood insiders had trouble getting (some believe this was because Fulci used many San Quentin staff involved in the Chamber’s official capacity as extras). This adds to the film’s nostalgia value as in all likelihood many of the places shown in the film are no longer standing and offers a time capsule like glimpse into a bygone era.

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Fans of the film The Boston Strangler with Tony Curtis, Henry Fonda, and George Kennedy will be intrigued to know the use of multiple window screen scenes got one of its earliest uses with this film. It’s only utilized during part of the investigation into Susan’s murder and during the revelation scene of what was really going on. While not used as frequently as in The Boston Strangler, it’s still an impressive technique that works well in not only Giallos, but in Mystery films in general.

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Jean Sorel, a French actor who found fame in Italy is a surprise as Dr. George Dumurrier. Looking a little like Alain Delon, or the poor man’s version of him, Sorel usually played the romantic lead in one form or another. What sets his role apart from many of his other appearances in the genre is that he’s not somehow involved in the plot to earn money. Some of his character’s were womanizing charmers, but in Dr. Dumurrier’s case, he also had positive qualities. He really wants his clinic to succeed and help people, though how he reaches that goal sometimes borders on the unethical. He’s either fallen out of love with his wife, or never loved her period, but he does love his mistress. He would gladly divorce his wife so they could each find real happiness, but his public image and his wife’s seemingly fragile health prevent it.  That he’s playing an overall nice guy whose done bad things is a nice change up from some of his earlier roles in other Giallos, as it makes what’s happening to his character all the more ironically tragic.

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Marisa Mell, an Austrian actress who, like many others in Europe, found fame working abroad is a mesmerizing scene stealer in the dual role of Susan and Monica. While rightly a sex and cult symbol of the 1960’s and 70’s, Mell also showcased in this film that she was a talented actress who could’ve gone far. With Susan and Monica having completely different personalities, a talented actress would be necessary to play up two totally separate people. That Mell could go from being homely looking and temperamental to a sexy, outgoing, and vivacious vixen takes a great deal of ability, and Mell proved many times over she had hit. The question many of the characters are asking is whether Susan and Monica are one in the same or if they are two totally different people who happen to bear a very strong similarity to each other. Another question that George and his mistress Jane want to know is how much does Monica know about Susan’s fate, and if she’s been paid to cause trouble by somebody. She has a partner, but she’s not saying who it is.

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A nice round-up of character performers including Alberto de Mendoza, John Ireland, and Riccardo Cucciolla fill out the cast. Mendoza, an Argentinian actor who became famous in Spain and Italy, plays Henry Dumurrier, George’s brother. He’s involvement in helping George may or may not be what it seems. John Ireland, a Canadian-American actor who worked both in America and Italy, has a somewhat small part as Police Inspector Wald. Ireland plays the part as the general harried cop who has to shuffle through a series of suspects and evidence. Even with doubts that the evidence and circumstances are all too perfect and neat, his natural dislike of the not so good Dr. Dumurrier has him eager to arrest the man. Riccardo Cucciolla, an Italian actor who worked onscreen and as a voice dubber is interesting as the mentally unhinged Benjamin Wormser. A character that may or may not be a wild card in the situation, Wormser is a meek man with an almost unhealthy obsession and standards for the seductive Monica. What does this mild, sad, and unassuming man know?

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Two exceptionally photographed and staged sequences were the sex scenes between Jean Sorel and Elsa Martinelli and later between Sorel and Marisa Mell. The scene between Sorel and Martinelli is done with psychedelic lighting, subjective camera angles, and a glass bed bottom showing viewers Martinelli’s entire backside. The scene feels like something out of an acid trip, but it’s still very cleverly done and showcases the strong feelings between the characters of George and Jane. The later scene between Sorel and Mell is a little unusual, but no less interesting. The character George, wondering if he can prove Monica is Susan by seeing how she makes loves, leads into one of the most unusual encounters in the boudoir. The contrast between light and shadow in the scene relates to the game being played between George and Monica, but whether Monica knows what the game is, is unknown. George’s occasional flashback to seeing his dead wife on their bed as he’s engaging with Monica leave viewers with only a vague idea that maybe Fulci’s playing with the character’s subconscious that he’s engaging in necrophilia, though he’s with his wife’s doppelganger.

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One of Fulci’s lesser known, but more impressive works, Una Sull’Altra is a unique film that really plays with the viewer’s head into what is exactly going on. That any of the characters, with the exception of the police and insurance people, could be the guilty party is really interesting. The Giallo genre had its roots in the Mystery Thriller, and this film personifies what filmmakers like Mario Bava, and writers like Ernesto Gastaldi were looking to make the genre into. The cast, the writing, and the atmosphere help to fuel the fires that keep viewers glued to the action and intrigue and wonder what will happen next. The twists, red-herrings, and consistent double and triple crossings make for an interesting and puzzling affair that will leave audiences stunned at the revelation and quite pleased at the conclusion.

(A prime example of a well made Mystery Thriller, Una Sull’Altra is a must for fans, young and old, of both that genre and Giallos too. Cult film distribution label Mondo Macabro has done a fine job with the restoration of the film, audio and picture quality equally good. The Italian language version with translated subtitles is the better option and it relates the story the way Fulci and his co-writers intended and is more realistic. The English dub, though fine in that the actors did their lines phonetically in English, still sounds artificial and forced, leaving something quite missing come the big reveals.)

All images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

For more information

IMDB/One on Top of the Other

Wikipedia/One on Top of the Other



Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

Sparse, Complex, & Sensual: The Bodies of Deborah & Suzanne

by Tony Nash

(A Part of The Cycle of the Melodic Gialli)

(A Spoiler Free Review)

(This review is of the Italian language version of the film)

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Il Dolce Corpo di Deborah (The Sweet Body of Deborah) (1968) **** ½ R

Carroll Baker: Deborah Boileau

Jean Sorel: Marcel Boileau

Ida Galli: Suzanne Boileau (as Evelyn Stewart)

George Hilton: Robert Simack

Luigi Pistilli: Philip

Michel Bardinet: The Police Commissioner

Written by: Ernesto Gastaldi, with collaboration from Luciano Martino

Directed by: Romolo Guerrieri

Synopsis: Newly weds Marcel and Deborah, on an international honeymoon, make their first stop Geneva, Marcel’s birth place. When a contemptuous old childhood friend accuses Marcel of being responsible for his first wife’s death and strange noises and frightening phone calls begin, the couple feel someone is looking for revenge. Even when feeling safe in France, the couple are again bewildered, this time by an American painter with voyeuristic tendencies.

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One of the earliest Giallos after La Ragazza Che Sapeva Troppo (The Girl Who Knew Too Much), Il Corpo sports a complex and twist laden story that would extend what La Ragazza and Sette Donne per un Assassino (Six Women for the Murderer/Blood and Black Lace) started, and become a starting point for future work. Taking the popular Noir element of the couple being tormented by someone from the past, director Romolo Guerrieri and screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi mix surreal lighting and imagery, unique camera angles, and only having characters give hints as to what might really be going on to keep the audiences guessing as to what the truth is. That all the audience is given is that the husband, Marcel, owing a large amount of money, left more America so he could come back clean to his first wife, who died a year prior under unusual circumstances. With this in mind, suspicions automatically fall on Marcel, who stands a lot to gain by two dead wives, but then again Deborah has a policy on Marcel. Having the action set in the beautiful countries of Switzerland and France make for a nice juxtaposition to the tense atmosphere surrounding the main characters, who aren’t able to fully enjoy their new life together with the fear of someone out to destroy them for a crime that’s never been proven the husband’s guilty of.  That every character could be guilty of being the one tormenting the couple, including one or the other of the couple, makes for a very intriguing mystery, as the audience isn’t sure of who to believe and what exactly it is that individual is after.

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The usage of flashbacks plays a necessary role in the film, as it attempts to sway viewers to the possibility that an unknown third party is playing a role in driving the couple into uncertainty and fear. With Marcel’s life with Suzanne seemingly normal, save for Marcel’s financial difficulties, there’s no  indication whatsoever he’s in the kind of position that would make killing her a necessity to save his own skin from danger. That both main leads don’t have anything (that the audience can sense or indicate) to hide, that there’s another person unknown to everyone else pulling the strings makes for a very likely idea.

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Surprisingly, for a couple that are apparently in a constant state of tension and unease, Deborah and Marcel have quite a few sex scenes in the film. Now while they might seem like overkill on the onset, they in fact play a very important part in the film’s latter structure. The act of making love brings couples closer together, creating the ultimate bond between them, and with a constant state of doubt between them, initial conceptions being that the consistent love scenes are the two’s attempt to re-discover the passion that brought them together. Another idea is that either Deborah or Marcel has something to hide and the love making is a ruse to keep suspicion off of themselves. Either is a plausibility.

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Carroll Baker, an American actress who ended up expatriated in Europe for fighting back against Hollywood’s sexist film offers, is quite excellent in the role of Deborah. Little of the character’s background is given, but from a comment she makes to Marcel about how her mother feels about him, it’s not hard to imagine she comes from an affluent family. Unlike most American heiress characters, Baker plays Deborah as someone who doesn’t flaunt her wealth around in a bid to find a man or show-off, but rather is someone who uses her wealth wisely. She’s shown as clearly in love with Marcel and would do anything for him, but at the same time feels she is unworthy of him and is uncertain if she knows enough about him. Like with some wealthy people, Deborah suffers a nervous condition with requires medication, an Achilles Heel, which will come into major play later on in the film. Baker’s range and use of emotion allows for the character to come off as very real, especially in scenes when Deborah clearly can no longer take the strain of what’s happening around her. Baker’s talent as an actress who gives the audience a nice mixture of is she the damsel in distress or is she a black widow playing a very intriguing and complex game.

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Jean Sorel, a French actor who spent much of the 60’s and 70’s working between Italy, Spain, and Germany, does very well in the role of Marcel. A poor man’s Alain Delon in appearance, he was able to evoke that similar cold, distant look that made reading his characters inner thoughts impossible. This aura of mystery as to how honest he’s been with Deborah and how much of his past is true or a lie makes who the guilty party might be all the more of a headscratcher. That he appears to be just perplexed by all that is going on just like his wife adds to this idea all the more. That both he and Deborah have life insurance policies on each other is one of the many twists that make deduction by audiences difficult because it signifies Marcel may have gotten back on his feet to a degree that he left the policy as a sign of good faith, or there could be something else altogether to it.

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Ida Galli, credited under her US pseudonym Evelyn Stewart, plays a small, but very important part as Marcel’s purportedly dead first wife Suzanne. Again, little is known of the character’s background, but given her sight-unseen agreement to Marcel’s plea to pay off a debt, she, like Deborah, came from an affluent family. Because it’s never learned if Marcel would benefit if she were to die, and no explanation other than the photo of a crashed car give any indication that she could be dead. Luigi Pistilli’s role as Philip falls under the same category as very little is known about him as well, save for what Marcel has stated about him, and his own unrequited relationship with Suzanne.

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George Hilton, a Uruguayan actor who found success in Italy via the Westerns, would make his first appearance in the genre that he, and Jean Sorel, would become the actors most associated with, as Robert Simack. While he comes into the film midway through, his first scene leaves an indelible impression as to how he’ll get caught up in the strangeness. An artist with something of a voyeur like fetish, he takes an interest in newlyweds Deborah and Marcel, but are his reasons completely eccentric, or is he looking for more? Hilton’s almost consistently smiling face adds a kind of unease to the character, automatically putting him in as a suspect, though what interest he could possibly have remains vague.

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On the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), the film is listed as a mixture of Drama, Horror, Mystery, and Thriller. The Horror element is really nonexistent, unless the director and writers were looking to convey a sense of Psychological Horror, which if that is the case, the effect comes off very well. With Horror only playing a very minuscule role, the traditional Mystery Thriller seems to be the correct category to list it under as.

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The complexity and intricacy of the film makes going into the story a little difficult with giving too much away and ruining the surprise ending. With the actors doing such a good job keeping viewers in the dark with what’s really going on and what secrets they could or might be hiding, the atmosphere and intensity works very well. The ending is so off guard catching and totally unique that viewers will have to see to believe it. All in all, a very fine early entry into the Traditional Giallo canon.

(This early Giallo effort comes strongly recommended for longtime fans and newcomers looking for somewhere to start. The complexity of the film and the mysteriousness of the characters and situations make for a consistent guessing games that leave the viewers guessing right until the finale 20 minutes. The Blu Ray from Germany’s X-Rated/ELEA-Media label is very high quality in visual transfer and audio quality. The only downside is the English subtitle translation when viewing the Italian track. At times it’s difficult to tell whether the subtitles are translations of the Italian audio, or dubtitles from a lost English dubbed track. This luckily doesn’t hinder the film much, but can be a little confusing to people who have a good grasp of Italian.)

Please check out the Grindhouse Cinema Database to see a condense version of this review

All images courtesy of images and their respective owners

For more information

IMDb/The Sweet Body of Deborah

Grindhouse Cinema Database/The Sweet Body of Deborah

DVDBeaver/The Sweet Body of Deborah

Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

Year in Review/HAPPY NEW YEAR

by Tony Nash

Hello to my followers, those I’m following, and any visitors who come to visit.

Besides moving from Philadelphia PA to Ocean City NJ, quite a bit in life and the Blu Ray/DVD and Film world has been interesting. Getting back into this Blog has been very fun as I’ve graduated Community College with my Associates degree in Liberal Arts a little over a year ago (Still up in the air of what to do next, but what I’ll be discussing will give you an idea.) While I haven’t been seriously unhealthy, my health in the last year has really been improving for the better, and I’ve never been happier. I’ve recently started a collaborative effort with The Spaghetti Western Database (SWDb) and the Grindhouse Cinema Database (GCDb) for original pieces, and links to my Blog for the film write-ups on some of the films that have listed in their pages, which I hope will help my blog and writing career.

Speaking of my writing career, a YouTube channel I like, which has gotten some mention here on WordPress, HorrorBabble, which specializes in Classic and Contemporary Horror and Weird Fiction readings will be having an open submission period in February for up-in-coming authors which I”ll be taking part in, keep fingers crossed I get lucky. I’ll admit Horror isn’t in my top 5 of genre’s, but I have gained an appreciation for the brooding suspense style of 60’s and early 70’s.

Having a Region Free Blu Ray player has really opened many doors for me in regards to purchases of Blu Rays and DVDs. An item I’m really looking forward to is the German company FilmArt recently announced release of Confessione di un Commissario di Polizia al Procuratore della Repubblica (Confessions of a Police Captain) starring Franco Nero and Martin Basalm. Having gotten fair in the understanding of Italian from watching over 60 Italian films, I can watch German Blu Rays of Italian Westerns and Giallos without English subtitles. Other releases I’m looking forward to getting can be seen in Stuff I’m looking forward to. Criterion Collection, Arrow Video, Arrow Academy, Eureka! and its Masters of Cinema and Classics labels, 88 Films, Shameless Screen Entertainment, Koch Media, FilmArt, and XR Video are some of my favorite companies to buy from and will continue to support.

Here’a little summary of some of the exciting buys and watches from the year

Best deals: The Complete Sartana Box-Set (1968-71) (Arrow Video) Gift Card

Jackie Chan’s Police Story and Police Story 2 Box-Set (198 (Eureka! Classics) $33

Django/Texas Adios Steelbook (Arrow Video) (I pre-ordered this item and got it before the rights snafu) $31

The Specialist Limited Edition with Comic book (1969) (TFI Studio) $22-24

Most surprising release: A Matter of Life and Death (1946) (The Criterion Collection) &

Le Verite (1961) (Criterion Collection)

Most enjoyably surprising watch: The Specialist (1969)

Most Thoroughly Impressed: I Am Sartana, Your Angel of Death (1969) and Have a Good Funeral My Friend, Sartana Will Pay (1970)

Favorite Film Company (tie): Arrow Video, Criterion Collection, Eureka!

Best Underdog Watch: Ursula Andress in The (Sensuous) Nurse (1975)

Best Upgrade Releases: Witness for the Prosecution (1957) (from Eureka! Masters of Cinema) and Some Like it Hot (1959) (from the Criterion Collection)

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, and all the other Holidays celebrated this month. 2019 is shaping up for many good things on this blog.



Filed under: Annoucements, Film: Special Topics

Q & A TIME!!!!

Hello to my followers, those I’m following, and curious onlookers

From now until Saturday January 13th, this post will be open to all questions posted in the comments section. This Q & A I’d like to keep Film related, but I will accept questions related to Music,Literature, Mythology, and Urban Legends. In terms of Film Questions, I’m most knowledgeable of films between 1915-1990, I like Classic Hollywood, genre films from Japan, France, Italy, and Germany. Giallos, Yakuza/Gangster, Polizioteschi, and Euro-Westerns are some of my favorite types of films. Please try to stay in this realm if you all can. Please have fun and enjoy.

Tony Nash, Movie Fan Man

Filed under: Annoucements, Film: Special Topics

TIS THE SEASON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

From Tony Nash, Movie Fan Man, wishing all of you the best

Image result for Christmas Tree

Merry Christmas

Happy Christmas

Joyeux Noël

Fröhliche Weihnachten

Buon Natale

Feliz Navidad

Vrolijk Kerstfeest

Wesołych świąt Bożego Narodzenia

God Jul

Veselé Vánoce

Milad Mubarak

Eftihismena Christougenna

Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan

Merii Kurisumasu

Jeulgeoun Seongtanjeol Bonaeseyo

Image from Images, and translations from WikiHow – saying Christmas in other languages

Filed under: Annoucements, Uncategorized

Blog News #2

From Tony Nash

Hello to my subscribers, those I’m subscribed to, and any curious onlookers

From November 29th to December 30th, I will be taking a vacation from the Blog to enjoy the Holiday season with my family and my best friend. I’ll still be watching movies on and off so I’ll have stuff to write about come the New Year, but generally I’ll be focusing on watching Holiday related films and specials. Over the Summer my folks and I moved from Philly PA to Ocean City NJ so right now I’ll be focusing on decorating and enjoying the season, making our new house our home.

In the New Year I’ll be rotating between the Western Wednesdays series and my new series’ The Cycle of the Melodic Gialli, centering on the Italian Mystery Thriller franchise, and Poliziotto e Criminale: The Poliziotteschi of the 1970’s, centering on the Cop and Gangster films Italy made in the wake of The French Connection. If anyone would like to see me write about a particular film from either sub-genre, just let me know in the comments below (as always keep the comments and requests fair and reasonable). Owning a Region Free Blu Ray player allows me to view Blu Rays and DVDs from the UK, Germany, and Italy, so there’s always a likelihood the film requested will be available on some format.

Getting into this blog again has been a real pleasure, and I’ll be looking forward to expanding come 2019.

Everyone be safe and have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy Boxing Day. For anyone celebrating Holidays other than those listed above,, have a happy and safe time.

Thank you all for the great year.

Filed under: Annoucements

The Swindle to End All Swindles:

Sartana Foots the Bill

by Tony Nash

(A Part of Western Wednesdays)

(Spoilers may be present)

(This review is of the Italian language version of the film)

Image result for buon funerale amigos paga sartana

Buon Funerale Amigos!….Paga Sartana (Have a Good Funeral My Friend, Sartana Will Pay) (1970) PG-13 ****1/2

Gianni Garko: Sartana

Antonio Vilar: Banker Ronald Hoffman

Daniela Giordano: Jasmine Benson

George Wang: Lee Tse Tung

Luis Induni: The Sheriff of Indian Creek (as Luis Hinduni)

Helga Liné: Mary, the Saloon Woman (as Elga Liné)

Ivano Staccioli: Deputy Sheriff Blackie

Franco Pesce: The Undertaker of Indian Creek

Franco Ressel: Samuel Piggot

Federico Boido: Jim Piggot (as Rick Boyd)

Jean-Pierre Clarain: Elmo Piggot

Robert Dell’Acqua: Frank Piggot

Rocco Lerro: Ralph Piggot

Aldo Berti: Colorado Joe

Attilio Dottesio: Joe Benson

Written by: Giovanni Simonelli (story credit as Jean Simon) & Roberto Gianviti

Directed by: Giuliano Carnimeo (as Anthony Ascott)

Synopsis: After several prospectors are murdered when it’s believed they’ve found gold in an abandoned mine, gambler and gunslinger Sartana is determined to find those responsible. When he discovers a plot involving both a Sheriff and a Bank Manager, Sartana must play his hands very carefully. The question is, is what the dead men discovered really what it is?

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The fourth Sartana film in the franchise and the third film for actor Gianni Garko proved to be an interesting hybrid of Gianfranco Parolini’s original and Giuliano Carnimeo’s subsequent “Western James Bond” sequels. This go-around has Sartana investigating the seemingly senseless murder of a group of prospectors who’ve supposedly found a vein of gold in a worthless area of town. As he digs deeper into the crime he discovers several interested parties in the land including the city’s Bank Manager, The town Sheriff, and a Chinese immigrant running the local gambling house. When the niece of one of the dead men comes to town to inherit, Sartana has to work quickly to resolve all issues. What makes this Sartana film interesting as with its predecessors is the seemingly endless string of red herrings, false leads, and more questions then answers to a very suspiciously simple case of ownership and validity. While films one and two of the franchise did this very well, this one takes all that an extra mile as it’s clear there’s something totally else going on that not even Sartana is giving hints to, making audiences wonder what the true story really is to all this. The Mystery aspect to all the Sartana films, with the exception of the third film starring George Hilton, makes for a very interesting ride as few Italian Westerns toyed with what was really going in the story and were fairly straightforward.

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Gianni Garko, the original and best Sartana, goes back to the roots of the first film, while also gaining some new traits. In his opening scene, after dispatching a couple of hired killers, Sartana comes upon a wad of cash from one of the dead prospectors, and throws it into the burning house rather than keep it. While a gambler at heart, Garko plays up this Sartana with an essence of honor, clearly not wanting to take from the dead. Garko also adds a sense of justice to Sartana, as while he didn’t personally know the one dead man, he firmly believes no one should be killed in cold blood. The addition of a romantic side to Sartana is a nice and welcomed departure to the traditional Anti-Hero characteristics normally associated to such characters. This shows the character has some degree of humanity and is not just about gaining money. The mixture of the phantasm qualities of the first film and the gadget trickery of the subsequent sequels offers a unique difference to the character of Sartana as he’s at once mysterious, clever, and witty all at the same time. Garko wasn’t initially impressed with the change of the character from the first film to its sequels, but later did come to appreciate the three he appeared in.

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Antonio Vilar, another South American actor who found success in Spain and other parts of Europe, does quite well in the role of Hoffman the banker. Vilar play the character in the tradition of the slimy aristocrat often not willing to get his own hands dirty in the schemes he concocts, but actually will when the situation calls for it. In spite of success as Indian Creek’s Bank Manager, the idea of gaining possession of a crusty old prospector’s claim of having found gold is too much even for him. Working out a nice deal between himself, the Sheriff, and a lady Saloon Owner, Vilar’s Hoffman character creates what he believes to be a full proof scheme to keep suspicion off himself and others. It is only when Sartana shows up that this plan begins to unravel and Hoffman begins blaming others for a scheme doomed to get found out. Ironically, Vilar’s Hoffman actually had a good deal of side plans for when others failed, showing he did prepare for most eventualities, making him a better than average sophisticated baddie.

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Image result for buon funerale amigos paga sartana

George Wang, a Cantonese-American actor who found mild success in Europe, is a surprise in the role of Lee Tse Tung. While Westerns were known for fairly stereotypical portrayals of both Native Americans and Asian immigrants, Wang as Tung is free of all dated and incorrect concepts of how Asians appeared and behave. Wang portrays Tung as a Confucius quoting businessman who owns and operates the town’s only casino. What makes this character unique is while Wang has Tung as generally tranquil and gentlemanly, there’s something clearly two-faced about him that makes the audience, and even Sartana, consistently weary of what his actual interest is in the events unfolding. Luis Induni, a Spanish actor born in Italy, gets a rare opportunity for a substantial role with the part of the Sheriff of Indian Creek. Like with Wang as Tung, Induni as the Sheriff is a double-dealing character also corrupted by the allure of gold. What makes Induni’s character different and tragic from the ones played by Vilar and Wang is that the Sheriff was clearly a good and decent man who somehow got caught up in the get rich quick scheme for the money out near the prospector’s place.

Buon funerale amigos!... paga Sartana (1970)

What gives the film an extra leg up in the franchise is the absence of screenwriter Tito Capri. While his work on films 2, 3, and 5 is good and worthwhile, his tongue and cheek atmosphere gave the series a somewhat silly vibe, though not necessarily bad, it did make others feel the franchise lost its edge.  This entry still sports some funny one-liners, and tongue and cheek humor, it still keeps a fairly serious, straightforward atmosphere that keeps the film within the areas of the traditional Italian Westerns that people have come to love and enjoy.

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A grey area that some might call a controversy or poor business/artistic practice was composer/conductor Bruno Nicolai’s (Ennio Morricone’s equally gifted protege) practically recycling his entire score for this film to another film he scored two years later in Il Mio Nome e Shanghai Joe (My Name is Shanghai Joe). Now with the main protagonist of that film being a Chinese immigrant, the melody of George Wang’s character’s theme being recycled in perfectly understandable, but to have re-used everything else seems a little lazy and excessive. Whether Nicolai gave his permission for this or was totally unaware is still up for debate, but because the Sartana film was the score’s original purpose, such ideas/theories shouldn’t spoil fans enjoyment of the film.

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Very different, especially from the first two films of the franchise, the 4th Sartana film still manages to pack in a lot of action and gunfights that will entertain Italian Western lovers new and old. A fine story and a twist that will leave everybody completely bewildered and off-kilter will be a welcomed difference to the usual fare people are used to within the genre. That the protagonist all along has knowledge he’s unwilling to divulge until absolutely necessary makes what the audience and other characters learn towards the finale feel totally out of left field and completely unexpected. The acting is very well done and the characters hold their own and weight very well. Mixing elements from the first film and the second film, there’s enough seriousness and playfulness to result in a fine homogeneous result that will appeal to most Italian Western enthusiasts.

(The fourth Sartana film showed no hints the franchise was losing steam, and that a combination of the original film and the first sequel led to an interesting different film that found its own strengths and stood as a worthy effort in its own right. Once again the mystery aspect plays a large part of the story, and the point of interest in this tale is not so much who’s pulling the strings to steal, but is what’s being sought after worth all the trouble. Arrow Video once again does a great job with the transfer and audio, making for an immensely enjoyable experience.)

(Look to my first posting of the Sartana franchise to see the link to purchase Arrow’s fine set)

All images courtesy of Images

for more information

IMDB/Have a Good Funeral My Friend, Sartana Will Pay

Wikipedia/Have a Good Funeral My Friend, Sartana Will Pay

Spaghetti Funerale Amigos!…Paga Sartana

Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

My 88 Films Wish List

by Tony Nash

Since I did one for Arrow Video, I figured it was only appropriate to do one for 88 Films too. Now this one will be exclusively to their Italian Collection line as I’ll admit that’s my favorite selection of titles.

(Note: some of the titles listed here 88 has already had requests for, some from this blogger too)

The Commissioner Betti Trilogy:

Roma Violenta (Violent Rome) – Director: Marino Girolami, Starring: Maurizio Merli, Richard Conte, Silvano Tranquili, Ray Lovelock, John Steiner, Daniela Giordano, Attilio Duse, Giuliano Esperati, Marcello Monti

Napoli Violenta (Violent Naples) – Director: Umberto Lenzi, Starring: Maurizio Merli, John Saxon, Barry Sullivan, Elio Zamuto, Carlo Gaddi, Silvano Tranquili, Attilio Duse, Maria Grazia Spina, Guido Alberti

Italia a Mano Armata (A Special Cop in Action/Italy: Armed and Dangerous) – Director: Marino Girolami, Starring: Maurizio Merli, John Saxon, Raymond Pellegrin, Mirella D’Angelo, Toni Ucci, Daniele Dublino, Fortunato Arena, Massimo Vanni, Marcello Monti, Sergio Fiorentini, Franco Borelli,

Roma a Mano Armata (Rome Armed to the Teeth/The Tough Ones) – Director: Umberto Lenzi, Starring: Maurizio Merli, Tomas Milian, Arthur Kennedy, Ivan Rassimov, Giampiero Albertini, Biagio Pelligra, Luciano Catenacci, Stefano Patrizi, Luciano Pigozzi, Allesandra Cardini, Gabriella Lepori

Napoli Spara (Naples: Armed and Ready/Weapons of Death) – Director: Mario Cianio, Starring: Leonard Mann, Henry Silva, Ida Galli, Jeff Blynn, Massimo Deda, Enrico Maisto, Tommaso Palladino, Tino Bianchi, Massimo Vanni

L’Assassino è Costretto ad Uccidere Ancora (The Killer Must Kill Again) – Director: Luigi Cozzi, Starring: George Hilton, Antoine Saint-John, Eduardo Fajardo, Femi Benussi, Cristina Galbo, Tere Velazquez, Alessio Orano

Quelli Che Contano (The Ones Who Count/Cry of a Prostitute) – Director: Andrea Bianchi, Starring: Henry Silva, Barbara Bouchet, Fausto Tozzi, Vittorio Sanipoli, Pietro Torrisi, Mario Landi, Dada Gallotti

Il Diavolo a Sette Facce (The Devil with Seven Faces) – Director: Osvaldo Civirani, Starring Carroll Baker, George Hilton, Stephen Boyd, Lucretia Love, Ivano Staccioli, Luciano Pigozzi, Daniele Vargas, Franco Ressel

L’Uomo della Strada fa Giustizia (The Manhunt) – Director: Umberto Lenzi, Starring: Henry Silva, Luciana Paluzzi, Silvano Tranqiuli, Claudio Gora, Luciano Catenacci, Susanna Melandri, Claudio Nicastro

Il Cittadino si Ribella (Street Law/Citizen’s Rebellion) – Director: Enzo G. Castellari, Starring: Franco Nero, Giancarlo Prete, Barbara Bach, Renzo Palmer, Romano Puppo, Renata Zamengo, Franco Borelli

Sette Scialli di Seta Gialli (The Crimes of the Black Cat) – Director: Sergio Pastore, Starring: Anthony Steffen, Sylva Koscina, Giovanni Lenzi, Renato de Carmine, Giacomo Rossi Stuart, Umberto Raho, Annabella Incontrera, Shirley Corrigan

Il Grande Racket (The Big Racket) – Director: Enzo G. Castellari, Starring: Fabio Testi, Vincent Gardenia, Renzo Palmer, Orso Maria Guerrini, Glauco Ornato, Marcella Michelangeli, Romano Puppo, Sal Borgese, Joshua Sinclair, Daniele Dublino

I know I left out a few titles here, but I do try to include titles that seem right for the company to restore.

Anyone who knows of other titles that 88 Films should consider restoring, feel free to list them in the comments, and please be fair and kind in them.





Filed under: Film: Special Topics