Movie Fan Man: Cinema Connoisseur

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Take a Film Dare: My Take

by Tony Nash

(A Blog Extra Special)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(SPOILERS AHEAD)

Maria Falconetti and Eugene Silvain in La passion de Jeanne d'Arc (1928)
US Poster re-release (from IMDb)

La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (The Passion of Joan of Arc/Jeanne d’Arcs Lidelse og Dod) (1928) ***** PG-13

Renee (Maria) Falconetti: Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc) (as Melle Falconetti)

Eugene Silvain: Eveque (Bishop) Pierre Cauchon

Andre Berley: Jean d’Estivet

Maurice Schutz: Nicolas Loyseleur

Antonin Artaud: Jean Massieu

Michel Simon: Jean Lemaitre

Jean d’Yd: Guillaume Evrad

Louis Ravet: Jean Beaupere (as Ravet

Armand Lurville: Un Juge (A Judge) (as Andre Lurville)

Written by: Joseph Delteil & Carl Theodor Dreyer (transcribed from the real court documents)

Directed by: Carl Theodor Dreyer (as Carl Th. Dreyer)

Synopsis: Faithfully reconstructed from the real court documents, the trial, sentencing, and execution of French heroine and saint Joan of Arc is subtly re-enacted.

260 Film Screenings: La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc | Denise Likomeno
Joan Preparing to Give Her Testimony (from Denise Likomeno’s WordPress Page)

This take on my Take a Film Dare Challenge will be a little bit different in that I’m going into the past and speak about a film I wasn’t sure I’d have liked even after quite a few years.

La passion de Jeanne d'Arc / The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) Carl Theodor  Dreyer, Maria Falconetti, Eugene Silvain, André Berley, Biography, Drama,  History | RareFilm
Jean Massieu, the Only One on Joan’s Side (from RareFilm)

I had first seen Danish film icon Carl Th. Dreyer’s masterpiece late one night when I was in grade school on Turner Classic Movies with my Dad. I knew about Jeanne d’Arc from school and of course the History Channel (back when it actually showed good History programs), so I had a fairly good idea about what I was going to see. I was really struck by the use of close-ups of the faces, particularly that of Ms. Falconetti, but after about 20 minutes or so, I didn’t think the film was going anywhere and I ended up going to bed a little later.

La Passion et la Mort de Jeanne d'Arc - Posts | Facebook
Massieu Attempts to Comfort Jeanne (from Facebook)

As I was finishing High School and going into college, I started reading a little more about Dreyer and his film about Jeanne, and was starting to reassess my original thoughts of it, and it was in 2012 while taking a Women in History course I became re-immersed in the story. Our main grade was going to be based on a paper we did on famous female figure in history, and I ended up picking Jeanne. Making a mention of Jeanne in the world of TV and Film, I finally decided it was time to give that Silent film another try.

La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc: film - Students | Britannica Kids | Homework  Help
A Guard and Inquistor Look on as Jeanne Prays with the Monks (from Kids Britannica)

For the Christmas of 2012, one of my gifts was the Criterion Collection DVD of The Passion of Joan of Arc and the day after the holiday while my parents were out to the theater seeing the film musical Les Miserables I spent the evening watching the DVD. The second go around was a much more pleasurable experience than all those years ago, partly because I was older now and became more knowledgeable when it came to cinema, and cause I was more open to the experience of Dreyer’s style of filmmaking. The one thing that didn’t change for me was how horrible the score that was used for the film was, and I spent my re-watch listening to the audio commentary from historian and Dreyer biographer Casper Tybjerg.

Still Of Maria Falconetti In La Passion De Jeanne Dx Arc Photo Shared By  Frayda14 | Fans Share Images
Jeanne’s Ring is Stolen by the Inquisitors (from fansshare)
La passion de Jeanne d'Arc (The Passion of Joan of Arc). 1928. Directed by  Carl Theodor Dreyer | MoMA
Renee Falconetti perfectly embodied the spirit of Jeanne (from

The use of close-ups held more of an impact the second viewing, coming to realize Dreyer was recreating the tension, claustrophobia, and suspense that Jeanne must have felt during her trial and execution. Renee Falconetti’s performance as Jeanne is breathtaking, near perfectly identifying with the courage, fear, despair, hope, and resoluteness that was the Maid of Orleans. Never before had an actress been able to draw audiences so close to a real life figure and be able to identify with her on a real intimate level. Only Albert Dieudonne’s performance as Napoleon comes close to what Falconetti achieved with her body language and facial expressions.

La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc | Philharmonie de Paris
The end draws near for Jeanne (from Philharmonie de Paris)

I can definitely my opinion changed on the film, and for the better, as I came to understand for the most part what Dreyer wanted to achieve with the film and how he pulled it off so seamlessly. This certainly isn’t the first time a film I wasn’t sure of previously had come to work for me, but this one was the first to have a great impact on me. I highly recommend anyone to check this one out, and to definitely either the Criterion Blu Ray or Eureka! Blu Ray as they offer multiple score options over the Voices of Light that, while impressive, takes away from the film.

Please feel free to list your own experiences in the comment section, or leave a link in the comment section if you wish to take the Film Dare Challenge

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

For more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0019254/?ref_=nm_knf_i1

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Passion_of_Joan_of_Arc

buying options

https://www.criterion.com/films/228-the-passion-of-joan-of-arc

from the Masters of Cinema Eureka!
From Amazon
From Amazon UK

Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri, Film: Special Topics

Silence is the Greatest Terror

by Tony Nash

(The Cycle of the Melodic Gialli: The Lenzi/Baker Edition 4)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild to Spoiler Free)

(Review is of the Italian language version)

Il coltello di ghiaccio (1972) - IMDb
Original Italian Poster (from the IMDb)

Il Coltello di Ghiaccio (Knife of Ice) (1972) ****1/2 PG-13

Carroll Baker: Martha Caldwell

Alan Scott: Doctor Laurent

Ida Galli: Jenny Ascot (as Evelyn Stewart)

Eduardo Fajardo: Marcos, the Chauffer

Franco Fantasia: Inspector Duran

George Rigaud: Sir Ralph Caldwell, the Uncle  

Silvia Monelli: Anna Britton, the Maid

Lorenzo Robledo: Assistant Inspector Maler

Mario Pardo: Randy Mason

Jose Marco: Farther Martin

Rosa Maria Rodriguez: Christina Martin (as Rosa M. Rodriguez)

Written by: Umberto Lenzi, Antonio Troiso, & Luis G. de Blain

Directed by: Umberto Lenzi

Synopsis: Left mute for 15 years after witnessing her parents die in a train fire, Martha Caldwell has lived a secluded life. After her cousin, a popular singer, is murdered while visiting her, both Martha’s uncle and a local police chief initially believe a Hippie Satanist is to blame, but the truth may be far more shocking.

Knife of Ice Subtitles - Subtitle Live
On the Trail of the Killer (from Subtitle Live)

Umberto Lenzi’s last collaboration with Carroll Baker, Il Coltello di Ghiaccio combines all the methods and style Lenzi used in their previous films together to create a truly intricate and baffling case worthy of the efforts of Agatha Christie. This time taking the story to Spain, Lenzi decided to have the McGuffin scapegoat be that the culprits were Satanists trying to form a cult in the area, a real risky move as dictator Gen. Franco saw such items as defamatory to his “perfect” country. Another nod to Agatha Christie, Lenzi uses a successful series of red herring’s, essentially making every character, save the police and two or three secondary/minor characters, a plausible suspect, having them engage in behavior that is clearly odd and incriminating. The investigation turns into a frantic chase against the clock as two more women are reported dead, and evidence a drug addict Satanist is roaming the area becomes clear, leaving Martha and a young girl she cares for in danger.

Trailer: THE COMPLETE LENZI BAKER GIALLO COLLECTION Coming from Severin  Films - Dread Central
Are These the Eyes of a Killer, or of a Druggie? (from Dread Central)

Interesting enough, about a third of the cast with speaking parts are Spanish speakers. By the time the Giallo sub-genre really began taking off, the casts were made up primarily of Italians and two to four Americans, though the years between 1968 to about 1972-73 did sport 1 to 2 Spanish speakers in the cast. Co-productions between Italy, Spain, and Germany were waning a little at this time mainly due to financial reasons, and what was in vogue for audiences, so multiple countries coming together for a production didn’t seem as necessary by the mid-seventies.

Review: Knife of Ice (1972) | BMANIA – B-movies (and beer) mania
Martha Blasts a Car Horn in Leu of Screaming (from BMANIA)

Carroll Baker, in her final collaboration with Lenzi, gives one of her finest and most nuanced performances in the role of Martha Caldwell. Lenzi and Baker even give subtle hints that this was the end of their initial partnership by having her not utter a word of dialogue until the very end of the film, her playing the majority of the part as a mute. Baker playing Martha as a trauma induced mute allots her the ability to put her full range of Actor’s Studio training to complete effect, communicating to others with hand & facial gestures, the use of objects against telephone receivers and other surfaces, and of course pen and paper for responses she can’t gesture or movement mimic. Haunted by a tragedy that was unpreventable, Martha goes through life unable to speak, forced to be silent in a speaking world, only wishing to be able to use her gracious voice again. She keeps her spirits up with charity work and taking small steps to get well. What seems like an entirely peaceful weekend with her famous singer cousin, soon becomes a race to stop a maniac when the cousin is found dead, and Satanic symbols found nearby, evil rituals are believed occurring. Why Martha becomes a victim of an unknown killer is left ambiguous until the very end, and even then the reasons are very dark.

(Author’s Note: This is the only film in Lenzi & Baker’s collaborations where Baker doesn’t get nude)

The Complete Lenzi/Baker Giallo Collection (Blu-ray Review) | Zombies DON'T  Run
A Much Needed Family Reunion

Another key element to show that the film would be the last of Lenzi and Baker’s initial collaborations was Baker’s dubber. Her voice was normally dubbed by Rita Savagnone, who on this occasion dubs Ida Galli, hinting both clear departures from the norm and a fond farewell. Maria Pia Di Meo, another iconic Italian actress and voice dubber takes the duties of looping the few lines of dialogue Baker does get to speak towards the end, having an equally enriching voice like Savagnone, which also does justice to Baker’s fire and passion.

the_films_in_my_life on Twitter: "KNIFE OF ICE (Italian: Il coltello di  ghiaccio) Dir: Umberto Lenzi Year: 1972 🇮🇹 #KnifeofIce  #Ilcoltellodighiaccio #UmbertoLenzi #CarrollBaker #EvelynStewart  #GeorgeRigaud… https://t.co/5E6ozme5lk"
At the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time (from Twitter)
Knife of Ice 1972 - raresmovies-com.over-blog.com
An Eccentric Employee, or a Cold Blooded Fiend? (from RaresMovies/Over-Blog)
Knife of Ice / Il coltello di ghiaccio (1972) / AvaxHome
A Concerned Uncle Argues with the Investigator (from AvaxHome)
il coltello di ghiaccio | Tumblr
An Honest Doctor Must Clear Himself with Aid from the Police (from Tumblr)

Baker is joined by a stellar cast including Ida Galli, Eduardo Fajardo, George Rigaud, Alan Scott, Franco Fantasia, and Lorenzo Robledo. Galli (under her Anglo stage name Evelyn Stewart) plays Jenny Ascot, Martha’s cousin. A singer of both religious and popular melodies who travels all over for concerts, Jenny is a model of what all people aspire for in talent. When she takes a vacation to visit her cousin and uncle, she is killed, seemingly the victim of a robbery/home invasion gone wrong, but soon it seems she’s one of many victims. Her death spurs the investigation that follows. Fajardo, a well-known and loved Spanish character player is a mysterious menace as Marcos, the Caldwell chauffer. His constantly leery look leaves everyone wondering what exactly is going on in that mind of his. George Rigaud, another of the many Argentinian actors who found fame abroad plays Uncle Ralph. An amateur Occult historian, he soon begins to wonder what connection is afoot in the string of killings, worried about his nieces and a small girl at the church. Alan Scott, an American expiate who had a 20 year acting career in France, plays the local Doctor, determined to restore Martha’s ability to speak, and also has romantic feelings toward her. Why he seems flustered under certain events is unusual.

Knife of Ice 1972 - raresmovies-com.over-blog.com
The Inspector and His Assistant Looking Over all Angles (from RaresMovies/Over-Blog)

Franco Fantasia, an Italian actor, and Lorenzo Robledo, a Spanish actor, normally known for stock player secondary and cameo roles, get to shine as supporting players as the inspector leading the serial investigation and his assistant respectively. Completely stumped at the randomness of the killings, both the inspectors find themselves having to remain one step ahead of whoever the mysterious maniac is going around killing the women around the village. The only clue is that the deaths have something to do with being next to a cemetery and somehow revolving around the Caldwell clan.  

jade_vine: 2014 - Page 7 - The Corrierino
Going Over All Evidence (from The Corrierino)

Unlike the mess that resulted in the ending of Cosi Dolce…Cosi Perversa, Lenzi and his co-writers make these red herrings stick, and the ending, while simple, still packs a punch and leaves viewers wondering what they missed while following the cast around to figure out what’s going on.

(The last hurrah between Umberto Lenzi and Carroll Baker is indeed bittersweet, but is still very much recommended as they keep the audience in the dark and wondering until the very end. While the ending is considered a little too simple in comparison with the red herrings roaming around, it still comes out of left field and leaves anyone who views it completely speechless and its not what’s expected at all. That the killer is able to take advantage of the hysteria and do what’s needed to keep the police off of the trail makes the ending all the more interesting. The Blu Rays from Severin Films and Le Chat Qui Fume [The Smoking Cat] both offer quality video and audio transfers of the film, and nice extras. One of the special features of the French Blu Ray is the mini documentary on Umberto Lenzi’s career that is also available on the Grindhouse Releasing disc of Rome Armed to the Teeth, but is only subtitled in French. The Severin Blu Ray wins out mainly by being English subtitle friendly on the feature film and Lenzi’s interview regarding the feature. The French Blu Ray is still worth getting as the entire film soundtrack is available on CD.)

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and thei respective owners

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068394/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Il_coltello_di_ghiaccio

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Il_coltello_di_ghiaccio

buying options

Sadly the French Blu Ray is sold out and out of print

from Severin Films

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

The Original Murder Club

by Tony Nash

(The Cycle of the Melodic Gialli: The Lenzi/Baker Edition 3)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(Review is of the Italian language version)

Paranoia (1970) - Filmaffinity
Italian Film Poster (from Film Affinity)

Paranoia (A Quiet Place to Kill) (1970) ***** R

Carroll Baker: Helene Sauvage

Jean Sorel: Maurice Sauvage

Luis Davila: Judge Albert Duchamps

Alberto Dalbes: Dr. Harry Webb

Anna Proclemer: Constance Sauvage

Marina Coffa: Susan Sauvage

Lisa Halvorsen: Solange Duchamps (as Liz Halvorsen)

Hugo Blanco: Miguel

Jacques Stany: James

Written by: Marcello Coscia, Rafael Romero Marchent, Bruno Di Geronimo, and Marie Claire Solleville, from a story by Coscia & Marchent

Directed by: Umberto Lenzi

Synopsis: While recovering from an accident during practice, a lady racecar driver is offered a large sum of money by the woman currently married to her ex-husband to kill him. When the wife is killed instead, the ex-lovers resume their affair, only for the dead woman’s vivacious daughter to make a surprise visit. 

Paranoia (A Quiet Place to Kill)
Marital Discourse at the Extreme (from Mondo Digital)

Paranoia is a really unique film in that it not only reunites Umberto Lenzi and his favorite leading lady Carroll Baker for the third time, but also reunites Baker with her Dolce Corpo di Deborah (Sweet Body of Deborah) leading man Jean Sorel for a second time. Lenzi once again takes the film to France, this time in the luscious countryside somewhere in the South, where seclusion can lead to all sorts of surprises and intrigue. The film takes the familiar Mystery Suspense concept of marital infidelity, revenge, deception, and greed to a whole new level as a woman cheated out of her savings scraps by doing varied jobs, including professional racing, finally hits rock bottom when an accident prevents her from returning to the sport. At first curious when she receives an invitation to relax at her ex-husband’s private villa, the woman soon finds herself in a strange triangle wherein the trophy wife wants her husband dead for reasons known only to her, while the husband would very much like to enjoy both his ex, his current wife, and the wife’s Lolita like daughter. The wife decides to offer money to the struggling woman as she had once before tried to kill the husband for his varied infidelities, but events take an unusual turn and suddenly unexpected complications happen. What follows is an intricate plot that has many twists.

Dawn of The Discs on Twitter: "Now Watching: A Quiet Place to Kill AKA  Paranoia (1970) Dir: Umberto Lenzi - from the @SeverinFilms Complete  Lenzi/Baker Giallo Collection #AQuietPlaceToKill #Paranoia #UmbertoLenzi  #SeverinFilms… https://t.co/BXuWB5kAO7"
Opening Title Sequence (from Twitter)

Even more interesting in the film’s history, is thar its being made came virtually by accident. Lenzi’s first collaboration with Baker, Orgasmo, was originally titled Paranoia during the writing stage, and was released in the US under said working title. For some reason the Italian producer changed the title during post production, and the ensuing confusion over what title was used by which country lead the producers to commission a film titled Paranoia with a completely different script.

Picture of A Quiet Place to Kill
The Time to Decide: Life or Death (from Listal)

Lenzi once again makes incredible use of the locale of France, this time in its equally exotic countryside, beautifully capturing the amazing mountain landscapes, lush plant life, the varied homes, and the bright blue sea surrounding it. Some of the mountain roads look very similar to the roads seen in Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief from 1955, which offered both beauty and suspense.

Carroll Baker's gialli – Movies List on MUBI
Wrong Way to Forget (with the Italian Favorite Drink: J&B) (from Diabolique Magazone)

Carroll Baker, in another fine performance for Lenzi, once again dons the garb of a lovely and alluring woman in the role of Helene. Once a woman of means, Helene’s former husband Maurice blew almost all the money on his extravagant lifestyle and womanizing ways, forcing her to do everything from model to engaging in the hazardous sport of car racing. Memories of her ex help to cause a crash that indefinitely pauses her racing career, and she soon finds herself back at Maurice’s country home, duped by the current wife to coming to stay while she heals. The current Mrs. Sauvage is tired of Maurice using her only to keep up his fast lifestyle, and believes having the ex-lovers remember their past will lead Helene to try to kill him again. With a sum of nearly a million dollars being offered to kill the lecherous Maurice, Helene finds herself in a precarious position that takes wild and constantly crossing turns.

Paranoia (A Quiet Place to Kill)
The Ultimate Rascal (from Mondo Digital)

Jean Sorel, a kind of poor man’s Alain Delon, provides his usual style of playing men of mystery and deception in the role of Maurice. A gigolo in every sense of the word, Maurice tends to always lure the loveliest and wealthy of women with his charm and smooth voice into his clutches. Preferring the jet set lifestyle of parties, rich food, boats, mistresses etc., Maurice will do anything to keep up appearances. He briefly gets a reality check when ex-wife Helene tries to shoot upon learning he lost all of her money in his fast lifestyle, but again marries wealthy because he has no intentions of giving up living on the high. Little does he seem know his current heiress wife has had enough of him playing her for a fool, and his may very well be numbered. That he truly still has an attraction to Helene, even though bad blood still exists between them makes for another complication as he could very well be planning something himself.

A Quiet Place to Kill (1970) Review – Blood Sucking Geek
Two Women with a Plan (from Blood Sucking Geeks)
A Quiet Place to Kill (1970)
Everyone Wants the Truth (from IMDB)
A Quiet Place to Kill (1970)
Concerned Daughter, or Scheming Lady Oedipus? (from IMDb)

The two leads are backed by a stellar cast of character performers including Luis Davila, Alberto Dalbes, Anna Proclemer, and Marina Coffa. Anna Proclemer, an Italian stage actress who occasionally dabbled in films and TV, plays Constance, the scorned wife of Maurice who finally decides he’s hurt too many other women, and tempts the broke Helene with a large payoff is she’ll agree to murder Maurice. Her plan seems fool proof, but nothing is ever easy. Luis Davila & Alberto Dalbes, Argentinian actors who migrated to Europe for successful careers, play Maurice’s closest friends, a judge and doctor respectively, who become concerned when both Maurice and Helene experience and health and mental stress. Only the judge becomes intrigued when Maurice makes hints he’s concerned for both their safety and the doctor presumably catches footage of a murder taking place.  Marina Coff, an Italian beauty who very briefly dabbled in acting, is quite an underestimated in the role of Susan, Constance’s daughter. On the outs with her mom due to her sexual awakening, Susan initially comes to the mansion to make peace, but finds her mom has died under mysterious circumstances, and wants to find out why.    

Paranoia.1970.BDRip.x264-GHOULS Torrent download
Film Collage (from Rarbg)

While lacking the ultimate twist and turns of Orgasmo, Paranoia still offers the intrigue, mystery, suspense, and intricacy that a Thriller needs to be successful. All the cast, particularly Carroll Baker and Jean Sorel do a fine job with a well written script.

(I highly recommend this film to fans of films in general, and Mystery Thrillers alike. It’s equal with Orgasmo in its construction and misleads to the ultimate revelation and hits the mark 10 times over to what Cosi Dolce, Cosi Perversa seemed to overshoot. While not as mysterious in plot line as its predecessors, Lenzi and his writers are still able to make the audiences wonder what will ultimately happen in the end. The Blu Rays from 88 Films and Severin Films are both equal in presentation in audio and visual quality, as well as extras. 88 Films get a slight leg up in price, the offering of a mini booklet with info on the film and notes by Giallo historian Rachel Nisbet, and the retaining of the original Italian title.)

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064787/?ref_=nm_flmg_dr_42

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Quiet_Place_to_Kill

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paranoia_(film_1970)

Buying Options

From 88 Films the Italian Collection
From Amazon UK
From Severin Films
From Amazon

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

Who Put the Hit Out on the Playboy?

by Tony Nash

(The Cycle of the Melodic Gialli: The Lenzi/Baker Edition 2)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(Review is of the original Italian language version)

Così dolce... così perversa (1969) - IMDb
Italian Poster (from the IMDb)

Cosi Dolce….Cosi Perversa (So Sweet, So Perverse) (1969) R ****

Carroll Baker: Nicole Perrier

Jean-Louis Trintignant: Jean Reynaud

Erika Blanc: Danielle Reynaud

Horst Frank: Klaus, the Hitman

Helga Line: Helene Valmont

Gianni De Benedetto: M. Valmont

Beryl Cunningham: Exotic Model Dancer

Written by: Luciano Martino, Massimo D’Avack, & Ernesto Gastaldi

Directed by: Umberto Lenzi

Synopsis: Wealthy industrialist Jean Reynaud finds himself in a peculiar adventure when he offers to aid a frightened and abused woman named Nicole. Nicole later confesses to Jean that her running to him was a ruse so her sadist ex-lover could earn a fee for the playboy’s death. Soon, it becomes apparent that someone clearly wants to inherit Jean’s assists and his company.

31 Days of Gialloween: So Sweet... So Perverse (1969) - Diabolique Magazine
An Intense Love Affair (from Diabolique Magazine)

Filmmaker Umberto Lenzi and actress Carroll Baker team up for the second time in a homage and unique take on French auteur Henri-Georges Clouzot’s classic psychological Thriller Diabolique. Keeping the story within the country of France, Lenzi and the screenwriting team have story move up from the secluded countryside to the bustling capital of Paris, where the wealthy enjoy luxuries with less than honest approaches to business and marriage is treated as an arrangement while extra marital affairs run rampant. While Clouzot’s story was centered on the type of suspense that bordered on the fringes of Horror, Lenzi’s version keeps the suspense tied to the realm of Mystery and Thriller, keeping the audience in the dark and uncertainty of what is really going on until the reveal time is right. The film centers on an arrogant and philandering industrialist in a marriage both he and the wife have regrets committing to, who soon finds his rather complacent lifestyle upended when he begins hearing arguments and crashing sounds from the apartment above his own. Upon discovering a clearly frightened woman trying to break away from a vicious lover, the man decides to try to help her escape. When she admits she’s a pawn in a scheme to have him killed, things turn even stranger as a series of double crosses, twists, and revelations begin a domino effect of crazy proportions.

Amazon.com: The Complete Lenzi/Baker Giallo Collection [Blu-ray]: Carroll  Baker, Jean Sorel, Evelyn Stewart, Lou Castel, Jean-Louis Trintignant,  Umberto Lenzi: Movies & TV
Clandestine or Choreographed? (from Amazon)
The Complete Lenzi/Baker Giallo Collection (Blu-ray Review) | Zombies DON'T  Run
The Beginning….of the End (from Zombies DON’T Run)

Carroll Baker, fresh off her success with fans in Orgasmo, gets to play a completely different kind of Femme Fatale in the role of Nicole. At first a recovering abuse victim, Nicole soon proves to be a woman who has two distinct faces: one of a manipulative con artist, the other a beautiful but tragic woman. Baker moves seamlessly between being for and against Jean, seamlessly moving him closer and closer to a very deadly outcome. The question soon becomes how much of a victim she really is, and who is pulling the strings. Baker’s Actor Studio training serves her very well for the duplicitous role. Jean-Louis Trintignant, a French actor who also did Italian films for about 12 years is his usual enigmatic self in the role of Jean, the rich playboy. From initial looks, Jean is the typical Bourgeoisie who rotates between his office, the varied clubs, and home, but in fact is in loveless marriage, and goes from mistress to mistress, spending most of his flings with a turkey-shoot partner’s wife. In spite of the lifestyle he lives, Jean is actually bored with his current situation, and suddenly finds himself in a unique situation when he believes spouse abuse is occurring in the apartment above his. Little does he know a sinister plot is being hatched against him, and even the woman he feels he can trust he keeps to a certain distance. While Jean has his shady side, even he doesn’t deserve that kind of end.

So Sweet, So Perverse: The Giallo Films of Umberto Lenzi, Part 1 -  Diabolique Magazine
Driven to the Breaking Point (from Diabolique Magazine)
Severin Films Reveals The Complete Lenzi Baker Giallo Collection
The Face of a Madman (from ComingSoon.net)

Erika Blanc, an Italian model and actress who excelled at many genre roles, gets to do something different with the role of Danielle. Normally known for playing women who were strong enough to handle most tough situations thrown at them, Blanc’s Danielle is the complete opposite as a worrier and frail woman who’s afraid of her own shadow. While initially attracted to Jean because of his charisma and willingness to take chances, she soon becomes distant to him, not even caring when he fools around with other women, including a few of their friends. Somehow Jean’s dalliance with Nicole is the final straw for Danielle, especially when a sultry party game at their home results in Jean and Nicole kissing. How willing she’ll be to be rid of her husband will most assuredly be surprising to everyone. Horst Frank, a German actor who enjoyed success in both his native land and abroad, plays a very Kinski esque type in the role of Klaus (ironic isn’t it). Little is known about Klaus save his penchant for violent S&M style fantasies in the bedroom, and his knack for unique ways to kill. Exactly what sort of role he plays in the whole strange affair with himself, Nicole, Jean, and Danielle is left ambiguous until the final reveal.

Bobby Castro on Twitter: "'Così dolce... così perversa' / So Sweet, So  Perverse (1969) Umberto Lenzi… "
A (for the Period) Forbidden Affair (from Twitter)

While Lenzi’s previous hit Orgasmo had very frank depictions of bi-sexuality, lesbianism, and BDSM style trysts, this go around he is very subtle the sexual preferences of his characters. While there’s no secret in how said characters behave when it comes to love and lust, Lenzi’s writers go a little more in the heavily hinted innuendo route, particularly Sapphic undertones involving the two female leads around the middle mark of the film.

31 Days of Gialloween: So Sweet... So Perverse (1969) - Diabolique Magazine
One of Many Lovers (from Diabolique Magazine)

A Thriller that keeps its audiences in the dark until the very last minutes, the film offers quite the bevy of twists and turns, leaving the almost always unanswered questions of who is playing who, who’s really the victim.

(I can only partially recommend this film myself as while the majority of it is very well made, and does indeed keep you guessing, writers Ernesto Gastaldi, Luciano Martino, & Massimo D’Avack miss the mark on the final reveal/ending by almost a mile. This is very unusual for a writer of Gastaldi’s caliber, as he was one of the best when it came to the Giallo genre. Lenzi himself had admitted it was his not being involved in the script that killed the film’s ending really delivering the goods as he felt it was Martino and D’Avack’s attempts at keeping red herring after red herring going along with Gastaldi’s fine work made trying to come up with a suitable finish really difficult. Other than that, the film is well crafted an offers plenty of good early to mid twists. Severin Films audio and visual transfer of the film is pretty solid, along with extras including a Kat Ellinger audio commentary, and interviews with Umberto Lenzi and Ernesto Gastaldi. )

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more info

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064186/?ref_=nm_flmg_dr_43

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/So_Sweet…_So_Perverse

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cos%C3%AC_dolce…_cos%C3%AC_perversa

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an addition will be coming from 88 Films’ Italian Collection line soon

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

Swingers, Drugs, Booze, & Greed:

Many Twists at the Villa

by Tony Nash

(Cycle of the Melodic Gialli: The Lenzi/Baker Edition 1)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(Review is of the Uncut Italian language version)

Paranoia (1969) - IMDb
(Italian Poster)

Orgasmo (Paranoia) (1969) R ****1/2

Carroll Baker: Catherine West (Kathryn in US version)

Lou Castel: Peter Donovan

Collette Descombes: Eva Donovan-Stuart

Lilla Brignone: Theresa, the Maid

Tino Carraro: Attorney Brian Sanders

Franco Pesce: Martino, the Gardner

Jacques Stany: Det. Arthur Frank

Joseph Guilty: Arnold Cleever

Written by: Umberto Lenzi, Ugo Moretti, & Marie Claire Solleville

Directed by: Umberto Lenzi

Synopsis: A wealthy American widow rents out a spacious Italian Villa to recover from the tragic death of her husband. She becomes smitten with an expate and his sister, and invites them to stay with her for a week. Soon, she begins to wonder if a scheme is a foot to steal her money.

Trailer: THE COMPLETE LENZI BAKER GIALLO COLLECTION Coming from Severin  Films - Dread Central
The Threesome That Began the Tragedy (From Dread Central)

Umberto Lenzi, one of Italy’s more prolific, but underestimated (thanks to Gore Horror buffs) filmmakers, tackles one of his earliest Giallo successes with Orgasmo. Inspired by a short story in a Mystery/Thriller anthology book about a young man who terrorizes a wealthy lady painter for her money, Lenzi took this concept and built a more complex, and visually stunning, story of greed and deception. The film plays a little more to the psychological end of the Thriller genre, where a battle of wills is soon to be waged, one with several surprising outcomes. 1969 was considered the height of the Swinging 60’s, and the fashion, music, and atmosphere reflect that generation that was on its way  Giallos at this period were made sporadically here and there, and were at times a little on the lurid end, but with Orgasmo, Lenzi took the Mystery Suspense film back to the classy boudoir, and mixed in enough erotica to give the piece spice without going into territory that would be deemed classless. The film also began a lifelong friendship between star Carroll Baker and Lenzi, whom he would work with three more times, citing her as one of his favorite actresses to work with.

So Sweet, So Perverse: The Giallo Films of Umberto Lenzi, Part 1 -  Diabolique Magazine
One of Catherine’s Hallucinations (From Diabolique Magazine)

Lenzi got help in making this film very akin to American Thrillers of the 30’s and 40’s he loved with the aid of novelist and occasional screenwriter Ugo Moretti. Moretti, having done a series of detective fiction himself, (often under a pseudonym to maintain his standing among the more serious literary circles) had a keen eye to what were good motifs and themes for the Mystery/Suspense genre, and was able to help Lenzi constrict a script that was very similar to works of such authors as Dashiell Hammett, Raymond, Chandler, and James M. Cain. Moretti was also sympathetic to the mod youth of that period, and a good chunk of his time writing before meeting with Lenzi finalize things was spent fleshing out the devious couple played by Lou Castel and Collette Descombes.

Amazon.com: The Complete Lenzi/Baker Giallo Collection [Blu-ray]: Carroll  Baker, Jean Sorel, Evelyn Stewart, Lou Castel, Jean-Louis Trintignant,  Umberto Lenzi: Movies & TV
Catherine Close to the Breaking Point (from Amazon)

Carroll Baker, an American actress who found a second wave of success in Italy, is fascinating and compelling as Catherine (Kathryn) West. Baker ended up in Italy after she rebelled against the demeaning parts being offered to her by Hollywood producers, and ended up having some of her best work in those early days of exile. Seemingly shook over the sudden and tragic death of her wealthy husband, Catherine looks forward to a period of rest and relaxation in a secluded Italian villa before getting on with her life. At first content to be by herself with only a loyal maid and deaf gardener as company, Catherine’s life seems to get a new spark when she meets the young and handsome Peter. At first happy with a hide n’ seek liaison with him, she eventually offers to let Peter stay with her at the villa until the lease is up, and ends up with both Peter and his sister Eva. After a time, Catherine discovers Peter and Eva aren’t blood related, and that they’re beginning to play with her mind, Baker soon has the Catherine character going through fits of paranoia, fear, and desperation, thanks to both Baker’s physical personification and the voice of actress/dubber Rita Savagnone, as there seems to be no way out of her situation without the fear of a scandal via her menage a troi with the couple.

Paranoia (1969) a.k.a. Orgasmo
French Film Poster Card (From Critical Condition)

A real boost for Baker in her Italian period, was her willingness to go totally nude for some of the scenes in the film. Initially Eleanor Powell was up for the lead of Catherine, but Lenzi managed to convince the producers to cast Baker instead, and the film ended up being much better because of Lenzi’s insistence on Baker. Not too many American actresses, whether at the twilight of their careers or in their prime, were willing to do anything that even hinted they were stark naked in a scene, but Baker was still young enough in her career that she had no qualms about “baring” all if need be. This was a combination of her wanting to take risks with parts and that she had an immediate rapport with Lenzi who was known to be very flexible with his casts. Lenzi has gone on record saying they liked each other so much Baker knew he would never ask her to get nude for no reason.  

The Italian Horror Blogathon: Orgasmo (1969) • She Blogged By Night
Catherine Offering Peter a Place to Sleep (From She Blogged by Night)
Picture of Colette Descombes
Eva as the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (from Listal)

Lou Castel, a Swedish actor born in South America who made his career in Italy, is a scum infested pleasure as Peter Donovan. Having made a career of playing slimeballs, perverts, psychos, and all-around unlikable characters, Castel doesn’t have to dig too deep in his acting training to pull off the character of Peter. At first coming off as a ne’er-do-well living a bohemian existence in the Italian countryside, Peter slowly reveals himself to be a money hungry gigolo and lady killer, as he calculatingly and methodically leads his fireball lover into a state of madness and fear. Collette Descombes, a little-known French actress recommended by Lenzi, is the feminine opposite of Castel in the role of Eva (Stuart) Donovan. At first masquerading as Peter’s stepsister, Eva soon reveals she and Peter have had a sexual relationship since early adulthood, and admits to Catherine she wants to be her lover along with Peter. More conniving in her actions than her brutish male companion, Eva is no less deadly.

The Italian Horror Blogathon: Orgasmo (1969) • She Blogged By Night
Theresa the Maid Knows Something’s Amiss, but Can’t Prove It (From She Blogged by Night)
Orgasmo | Trailers From Hell
Sanders the Attorney Seems too Confident (from Trailers From Hell)

Noted Italian character performers Lilla Brignone, Tanio Carraro, & Franco Pesce play the supporting roles of Theresa the maid, lawyer Brian, and Martino the gardener respectively. All are oblivious to the deadly games going on, and that Mrs. West is in grave danger from people who want her inheritance, and for one, the truth of the situation that eventually reveals itself, will be far too shocking.

Orgasmo (1969) - SpookyFlix
The Key to Freedom? (from SpookyFlix)

Lenzi and Baker keep the tension and suspense at an all time high in the film: Lenzi keeping the motives of his antagonists a mystery until the very end, and Baker’s fine performance as a woman slowly teetering the fine line between sanity and utter despair paranoia. That the characters are very rarely seen outdoors, save for the garden/patio of the villa adds to the slowly increasing tension, the claustrophobic and confined space making the situation all the more dangerous and frightening. The frank sexual innuendos and dialogue between the characters was very tantalizing for the time and soon became a source of liberation for the youth of the era.

(I highly recommend giving this film a look at when the opportunity presents itself as Lenzi paints one of the most original forms of Murder/Mystery in the early stages in the Giallo period. It does get a little tedious in the middle and early parts of the end, but the finale is very well worth the pay off and it totally comes out of left field and the viewer never sees the revelation coming. The US Cut of the film, which is the only film of the early MPAA system to retain the “X” rating (though it is really R rated even by the standards of the 80’s onward) removes key essential story and character points, making it far too straightforward and losing the intrigue Lenzi and his co writer Moretti intended. The Blu Ray from Severin Films offers a pristine restoration in audio and visual quality of Lenzi’s original cut of the film along with well translated English subtitles of the Italian audio track [I highly recommend watching the film in the original Italian, as the uncut version has scenes that were never dubbed into English, and do sporadically go from English to Italian when viewed in the dubbed track]. Two audio commentaries are offered: the uncut version with Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, the US cut with Giallo historian titans Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson. Also available is a nice interview with Umberto Lenzi, focusing mainly on his inspiration for the film, his relationship with actress Carroll Baker, and how Film-Noir influenced his golden age period with his Giallos and Poliziotteschi.)

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0063413/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orgasmo

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orgasmo_(film_1969)

https://www.grindhousedatabase.com/index.php/Paranoia

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