Movie Fan Man: Cinema Connoisseur

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

A Play Within a Play, Or How Shakespeare Saves a Marriage

by Tony Nash

(WordPress Follower Appreciation #4: Master Mix Movies)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

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Original Poster (from the IMDb)

Kiss Me Kate (1953) ***** PG

Kathryn Grayson: Lilli Vanessi/”Katherine ‘Kate'”

Howard Keel: Fred Graham/”Petruchio”

Anne Miller: Lois Lane/”Bianca”

Keenan Wynn: Lippy, Mob Collector

James Whitmore: Slug, Mob Collector

Tommy Rall: Bill Calhoun/”Lucentio”

Kurt Kasznar: “Baptista”

Bobby Van: “Gremio”

Bob Fosse: “Hortensio”

Ron Randell: Cole Porter

Written by: Dorothy Kingsley, adapted from the stage play by Sam Spewack (as Samuel Spewack) & Bella Spewack, freely based on The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

Directed by: George Sidney

Synopsis: A divorced acting couple put aside personal animosity to put on a production of Cole Porter’s musical take on Shakespeare’s romantic comedy The Taming of the Shrew. The film mixes both the production itself, and the backstage antics of the couple, and two of the other cast members as they figure out their romantic feelings, all while the lead actor does whatever it takes to keep his ex on the stage.

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Lois Showing Fred, Lilli, and Cole Porter Her Tap Dancing Skills (from NZIFF)

While the 3D craze was still the fashion of the early to mid 1950’s, the Musical genre got its taste of the fad with the film Kiss Me Kate. The film within a film, which explores both a theater company’s performance of a production and the backstage antics of the cast, and others associated to them, is a fine setting for the 3D process as it allows actors to punt items to the camera in a believable fashion that doesn’t feel as if they’re entirely playing to the camera for the sake of the effect, whether it be the throwing of a prop or the extended in focus view of an object. The film’s main comic element is the two leads constant bickering that finally has the leading lady having enough of her ex husband/male lead’s manipulations and ego, and the man’s zany efforts to keep her from leaving, and to keep the show from ending up a financial and critical disaster. Destiny or luck seems to be on his side when a member of the cast signs an IOU with the lead’s name for a gambling debt that has two Mob enforcers coming to collect, prompting the “hero” to play the mix up to his advantage, stating he won’t be able to “pay” if his leading lady walks out on the show, leading to very funny and outlandish events and situations. A solid side plot has an aspiring acting/dancing couple who’s budding romance is on the skids because of the woman’s flirtatious nature and the man’s bad luck in games of chance, which ignites the chaotic events of the night.

(Author’s Note: Cole Porter, who wrote the songs and music for the original stage version and the film, is given a small cameo played by Ron Randall in the film, isn’t a character in the original stage performances, only mentioned as being the author of the play.)

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The first big number of the play (from the IMDb)

Kiss Me Kate was one of the many successful modern takes on a Shakespeare classic, and one of the few Hollywood efforts to show what possibly might go on backstage before and in between the acts of a play/musical, including the tensions between big name stars who can’t seem to coexist in the same production. A lot of changes had to be made before MGM gave the film the greenlight to begin filming. The original script by married couple Sam and Bella Spewack had quite a bit of colorful language, swear words, and a lot of sexual innuendo. “Brush Up Your Shakespeare”, sung by the two hoods, had them performing the number during the Broadway version in a more comical manner that hinted the duo may have been homosexuals, which was a major no-no in the then still enforced Hayes Code, moved as a diversion by the hoods while Fred and Lilli had their big spat about Fred’s deception to keep her from quitting acting to right before the ending as a means of cheering Fred up after he believes he’s lost Lilli for good. There’s quite a bit else changed for the sake of cleanliness, but that’s the main bit everybody talks about.

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Lilli Being Swept off Her Feet (from Pinterest)
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Lilli as Kate the Shrew Singing “I Hate Men” (from Pinterest)

Kathryn Grayson, the Opera Soprano trained singer who went to Hollywood, is a sheer delight as both Lilli Vanessi and the title character of Shakespeare’s famous Shrew. Grayson’s voice and style is perfect for the nearly always frustrated Lilli who has a love/hate relationship with both her ex-husband and the acting profession, her voice going deep Alto every time someone gets her mad. While it’s clear she loves performing, the tough time she had with ex Fred Graham has soured her to the calling, and wanting to start afresh by marrying a wealthy and doting Texas Cattle Baron. The mix of the film going from the performance to the backstage shows Lilli is very much like the character of Kate in that the she’s quick temper, isn’t afraid to get physical, and would gladly punch the lights out of her would be suitor, but unlike Kate, Lilli loves to be romanced and dotted upon, just wanting the man she marries to treat her like an equal and a partner, rather than just a cog in the theater machine to success. Her ire really gets up when Fred stoops to a new low and cons two hoods into making her stay with the production, falsely believing Fred owes their boss money for a gambling loss, making the hoods wish they hadn’t taken the job when, during a scene in the play, she begins throwing very real dishes, pots, and vases at them. Her emotions eventually become conflicted upon realizing that Fred truly does care about her, but at the same time feels he did her wrong so many times when they were married the first time that she wonders if she can honestly trust him.

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Fred Trying to Remind Lilli of the Good Times They Shared (from TCM)
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The Wiley and Cunning Petruchio Making Plans With Father-in-Law Baptista (from The Blonde at the Film)

Howard Keel, with his Tenor-Baritone pipes and rascally persona, does a fine job in the roles of Fred Graham and Petruchio. A Poster Boy example of what a hammy ego-maniac star usually is like, Fred Graham is the kind of guy who may very well make a struggling actor or actress a name in the business, the main question really being how long will it take before the performer wants to strangle him for being too demanding and difficult. Fred is an actor/director who knows what he wants and knows what will make a show a success, but his methods for getting the job done are fairly questionable. Not above using jealousies and professional competition as a means to coercing hard to get actors and actresses to accept roles in his productions, Fred may have bit off more than he could chew when he goes too far in trying to match ex wife Lilli’s verbal barbs and she finally has enough and decides to quit show business. Panicking over the failure of the show, in both money and within the theater community, and what it’ll mean for his reputation, Fred once again gets far too desperate in his actions to save the show. After a co-star, who’s jealous of the swoons his girlfriend gives Fred, signs his gambling IOU debt with Fred’s name, Fred equally deceives the hoodlums who intend to break the debt holder’s body parts unless the money’s coughed up, by making them think Lilli’s performance is the only way the show will make money to pay them off, thus using force to make her stay. The plan goes awry in the end when Lilli manages to scare the hoods and Fred into letting her go by threatening kidnapping charges to the police. Realizing Lilli’s on to all his tricks, Fred tries being honest with her, saying theater, and he himself, are nothing without her talent and gracefulness, and admitting that it was his ego that fouled up their marriage. He then must wait and see what happens.

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Lilli is Unimpressed as Lois Shows Her Range (from SMITH RAFAEL FILM CENTER – California Film Institute)
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The Lovely Bianca Laments Her Marriage Woes (from Ultimate Movie Rankings)
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The Comic Hoodlums Lippy and Slug (from YouTube)
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The Duo in Disguise as Extras (from NZIFF)
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Bianca’s Vying Suitors (from Pinterest)
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The Frustrated Poppa Baptista (from Aveleyman)

Ms. Grayson and Mr. Keel are joined by a bevy of talented theater and film performers.

Anne Miller, the Queen of Tap Dance, is a hit as the other woman Lois Lane (no pun on Superman here) and the late casted Bianca for the Graham production. Lois is an aspiring performer actress/dancer who innocently flirts with Fred Graham to help move her career along. Her problem is that her boyfriend Bill Calhoun is content with being just another nameless hoofer in the chorus, and prefers the thrill of gambling over the excitement of applause and performing. His frustration over Lois and his bad luck is what leads to the crazy events later on, but in the end things work out for them. Keenan Wynn (Disney Legend Ed Wynn’s son) and James Whitmore, two of Hollywood’s more reliable heavies and antagonists, are blasts in the respective roles of Lippy and Slug, Mob debt collectors. When Bill’s losses at gambling round up to $2000, the duo’s boss sends them to either get the money owed to him, or to break the welching gambler’s arms and legs. Because they didn’t see Bill at the gaming joint, and only know the IOU bears the signature Fred Graham, the duo immediately head for the known Broadway star’s dressing room. Eventually they come to like Graham, and don’t relish the idea of beating him to a pulp for not paying, never finding out they’ve been given a bum steer by Bill. Oddly enough, both Wynn and Whitmore come off as more comical than menacing, as per script, and audiences can’t help but like them. Broadway fans will like that icon Bob Fosse made his first film appearance in Kate as one of Bianca’s suitors, Hortensio to be exact, and even in this small role, his song and dance talent can be clearly seen. Kurt Kasznar, known to most people as the bumbling and shifty Mr. Fitzhugh in Irwin Allen’s Land of the Giants, plays another unnamed actor playing the role of Kate and Bianca’s father Baptista. This guy clearly has no clue Fred and Lilli are at the breaking point of civility to each other, and shows the professionalism of actor’s by trying to keep the show going in spite of the mayhem.

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All The World’s A Stage (from The Blonde at the Movies)

The film is a highlight of the Golden Age of Musicals, along with Singin’ in the Rain, The Band Wagon, and Easter Parade, and while some of the film’s content can be seen as dated, old fashion, and borderline sexist/chauvinistic, the music and performances make up for the flaws, and the flaws of course can also be overlooked as an object of the time it was made in. It’s surprising the Musical didn’t do more in the 3D realm as 3D was perfect for the genre, allowing for the gimmicks to used in believable ways that didn’t look like playing to the camera.

(I do highly recommend this very well done Musical for anyone who likes the genre, and for those looking for a good place to start with it. There are some clichés involved with it, and some material that is dated, or hasn’t translated well for future viewers, but the film overall can still speak to many generations about the pratfalls of being in the theater, and how temperament amongst actors can make or break both personal and professional relationships. I do this one in honor of one of my more recent Followers Master Mix Movies, who loves all sorts of genre cinema, and seems to really like films that mix genres together, so I hope he takes a liking to this one. There is a Blu Ray available from the Warner Archives label, and while the transfer of the film is immaculate, only the original 3D print is used for the release that requires the specialized 3D TV and 3D capable Blu Ray player. The original release Blu Ray had both the 2D and 3D versions, but has long been out of print. The DVD is still a great option as it has the same transfer of the Blu Ray, but is the 2D version.)

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

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045963/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiss_Me_Kate_(film)

buying options

Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri, Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

Murder by the Clock

by Tony Nash

(WordPress Follower Appreciation #3: Debbi-IFatM)

(All Opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

The Big Clock (1948) - IMDb
Original Poster

The Big Clock (1948) ***** PG-13

Ray Milland: George Stroud

Charles Laughton: Earl Janoth

Maureen O’Sullivan: Georgette Stroud

George Macready: Steve Hagen

Elsa Lanchester: Louise Patterson

Harold Vermilyea: Don Klausmeyer

Dan Tobin: Ray Cordette

Rita Johnson: Pauline York

Harry Morgan: Bill Womack (as Henry Morgan)

Richard Webb: Nate Sperling

Elaine Riley: Lily Gold

Written by: Johnathan Latimer, based on the novel by Kenneth Fearing

Directed by: John Farrow

Synopsis: George Stroud is struggling to save his marriage when his wife accuses him of fooling around and being a yes man for his megalomaniac newspaper boss Earl Janoth. When Janoth’s mistress reveals she’s been fooling around on him, he kills her in a rage. Wrongly believing Stroud is the other man, Janoth has evidence planted to incriminate him, and goes so far as having Stroud look for “the killer”. When Stroud discovers the truth, a race ensues to prove his innocence.

Blu-ray: The Big Clock review - brilliantly constructed comedy noir, ripe  for rediscovery
Stroud on the Case (from The Arts Desk)

The Post WWII Years are considered the beginning of pure Film Noir, the mix of light and shadows, and peoples uncertainty of who could be trusted as trust and loyalty were shattered by war time actions becoming the forefront of the genre. The Big Clock was a unique piece in the Post War era as it mixed the unease of the time with the classic procedural detective stories of the 1930’s and early 1940’s, making for a concoction that’s both thrilling and immersive. A talented writer’s gotten stuck in a lingering funk as he’s torn between continuing a well paying but overwhelming job, and saving his loving but strife’ d marriage. His life takes a whirlwind shock turn when his boss murders his two-timing mistress and, believing the writer is the other man, frames him for the crime. To make matters even stranger, the tyrant killer sets it up so the writer will discover he’s been framed by giving him the job of “finding the killer”. The entire film becomes of a mix of detective style investigative drama and mystery suspense as the boss and his henchman look to prevent the reporter from finding out he was framed and exposes his boss for the crazed tyrant he is.

Blu-Ray Review | The Big Clock (Blu-ray) | Blu-ray Authority
Stroud in Hot Water After a Bender (from Blu Ray Authority)

Ray Milland offers up a solid and nuanced performance as George Stroud. While a good guy for the most part, Stroud lacks the ability to decide between what is right and what is necessary for his personal ethics and life. He’s a talented writer wasting his time in a “yellow journalism” paper that also acts as a gossip column While his newspaper reporter’s job offers a nice salary to keep a roof over his and his wife’s head, the ridiculous hours and assignments he’s often given, leave him little opportunity and time to be the devoted and loving husband he desires to be. His wife, while supportive and sympathetic, constantly harangues him for thinking more of his job than of her, even though his job is what keeps them in house, food, and clothing. That Stroud can’t seem to reconcile both worlds makes things a lot tougher, and the strain of being unable to prove his devotion to the woman he loves, almost leads him astray. When he innocently flirts with a woman who ends up being the newspaper boss’s mistress, and who is later murdered by the magnate, Stroud inadvertently gets mistaken for the “other man”, and must use his wits and ability as a reporter to prevent his boss from successfully making him look guilty of murder and infidelity.

OZU TEAPOT — The Big Clock | John Farrow | 1948 Charles...
Janoth Is Calmed by Hagen (from OZU TEAPOT Tumblr)

Charles Laughton, one of Hollywood’s most prolific and versatile character actors, gets his magnum opus of slimy villainy as Earl Janoth. Janoth is a Hearst style newspaper magnate in that he’s ruthless, cunning, and will make his employees do whatever it takes to get a story out. He makes a huge mistake however when he falls for an equally devious woman who manages to put one over on him and makes him look like a fool. Enraged, Janoth coldly murders her and, thinking his ace reporter is the other man and saw what had happened, uses his power and influence to make the man the patsy in the woman’s death. Letting the reporter believe he has to solve the murder because of how close to home it hits the paper, Janoth sets up a wave of planted evidence, false leads and witnesses, and a false suspect to be found, all in hopes the police will be led to the reporter. Unbeknownst to Janoth, the reporter has figured out his scheme, and soon plans are unraveling as Janoth tries to stay two steps ahead.

THE BIG CLOCK (1948) - Comic Book and Movie Reviews
An Eccentric Artist Helps Stroud (from Comic Book and Movie Reviews)
The Big Clock - The Big Clock (1948) - Film - CineMagia.ro
Hagen, Janoth’s Right Hand (from Cinemagia)
Test DVD - La Grande Horloge (The Big Clock) 1948 - Carlotta Films * Film  Noir CineFaniac - Tout sur les films noirs
Stroud and His Wife (from Cinefanatic)
The Big Clock (1948) Film Noir. Harry Morgan, John Farrow | Film noir,  Noir, Film
Janoth’s Silent Henchman (from Pinterest)

A slew of Golden Age actors and actresses join Milland and Laughton in the whirlwind mystery Thriller. Maureen O’Sullivan, known to many as the mother of actress Mia Farrow, came out of retirement at director/husband John Farrow’s (Mia’s Dad) request to play Stroud’s loving and supportive, but frazzled wife Georgette (what a pun there huh?). Sullivan mainly plays the typical loyal wife who has her reserves, but Sullivan always played whatever part she got with believability. George Macready, who could play both good guys and bad guys, does a fantastic job as Janoth’s secretary and partner in crime Steve Hagen. Hagen, who at times feels he’ll forever be in Janoth’s shadow, ends up being the weak link in Janoth’s scheme when jealousy and betrayal circle into bigger problems. Elsa Lanchester, one of the quintessential British character actresses, whose fame was cemented as The Bride in 1936’s Bride of Frankenstein and later in 1964 as Katie Nanna in Disney’s Mary Poppins, gets to ham it up well as the bohemian artist Louise Patterson. A painting of Patterson’s proves vital in helping Stroud prove his innocence, and she tags along in the investigation to not only help Stroud, but get his aid in locating her long runnoft husband. MASH fans will be pleasantly surprised to learn that Harry Morgan, credited as Henry Morgan, plays a fairly big part in the film as Janoth’s brutish enforcer Mr. Womack. Morgan doesn’t speak at all in the film, but his facial features give away a ruthless tough who’ll do what he’s told, and do it well.

The Big Clock (1948) - John Farrow - RoweReviews
Stroud Stays a Step Ahead (from RoweReviews)

The film for a time was in a limbo before actually starting production. Author and poet Kenneth Fearing wrote the main villain of the book, Earl Janoth, as a blatant caricature ripoff to Time Magazine publisher Henry Luce, who had given Fearing loads of grief when Fearing’s financial troubles forced him to take a job with the magazine. Paramount Pictures bought the rights to the book before it even hit stores, but had to wait to greenlight it until critic reviews came out, and were fearful of the project going down in flames should Henry Luce decide to sue Fearing for slander and defamation of character. To everyone’s sigh of relief amazement, Luce didn’t make the connection between Janoth and himself, and Paramount greenlight the film.

The Big Clock (1948) - John Farrow - RoweReviews
A Night View of the Outside of the Janoth Publication (from RoweReviews)

In spite of fears of the author being sued, the creative issues between director Farrow and Paramount Producers, and usual on set antics of the cast, The Big Clock is still one of the best Post WWII era Noirs, and showcases the uncertainty of that trying period.

(A great Noir Thriller that movie fans should check out at least once, and another high recommendation from this author. Anyone new to Noir will find this film a good starting point to begin, and long term fans of the genre will find it the perfect film to frequently revisit. The plot and action have the hallmarks of an Agatha Christie story, but the cinematography definitely makes it a proper Noir. The Blu Ray from Arrow Video’s Arrow Academy Line offers up a solid transfer in the both the video and audio of the film, making it look exactly as it did in 1948. I dedicate this one to the lovely and wonderful Debbi, who runs the blog I Found It at the Movies. Her Blog does a varied amount of content, but her main interest seems to be Noir and Gangster movies, and I figured this film would be the perfect compliment to show my appreciation for her following my blog.)

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

for more information

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Clock_(film)

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040160/

buying options

https://arrowfilms.com/product-detail/the-big-clock-blu-ray/FCD1880

Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri, Film: Analysis/Overview, TV: Analysis/Overview

An Alternate Take on the Musical Fairy Tale

by Tony Nash

(WordPress Followers Appreciation #1 Yolanda)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Spoilers)

Donkey Skin (1970) – Ticklish Business
French Poster

Peau d’Ane (Donkey Skin) (1970) ***** PG-13

Catherine Deneuve: The Princess/The Blue Queen I (the Mother)

Jean Marias: The Blue King

Jacques Perrin: Prince Charming/The Red Prince

Delphine Seyrig: The Lilac Fairy

Jean Servais: The Narrator (Voice)

Micheline Presle: The Red Queen/The Blue Queen II

Fernand Ledoux: The Red King

Henri Cremieux: The Blue King’s Physician

Sacha Pitoeff: The Minister

Written & Directed by Jacques Demy, based on the fairy tale by Charles Perrault

Synopsis: A beautiful princess, with the aid of her fairy godmother, flees via disguise from her father the king, whom has been wrongly advised to marry to marry. The fairy godmother then secretly guides a prince to save the princess and restore harmony to the land.

Donkey Skin Blu-ray (DigiPack)
The Princess incognito (from Blu Ray.com)

Jacques Demy, a Nouvelle Vague Français era filmmaker who rejected the movement in favor of his love of Classic Hollywood, briefy tried his hand at fairy tales in the early to mid 1970’s. His first outing in this trial was Peau d’Ane, a lesser known fairy tale from his home country. For about 40 to 50 years at the time, many fairy tales that were made into films were often sanitized as the key audience for them were children, but Demy broke this mold by taking on the darker elements these classic tales had lurking beneath, and confounded both viewers and critics alike by making his adaption with the lightheartedness and whimsy accepted for the kinds of films sold to children. Demy’s heroine is a beautiful princess caught in a difficult situation when, after her equally beautiful mother dies of an unnamed illness, her distraught father the king is falsely led to believe his promise to marry someone as beautiful as his wife can only be kept if he marries his own child. Loving her father dearly, but also knowing what she’ll be asked of is wrong, the princess flees her kingdom, helped by the Lilac Fairy, under the guise of a scullery worker called Donkey Skin (because of the donkey hide used to conceal herself). What follows is carefully executed plan by both Demy and his intelligent Fairy Godmother to weave a classic story, and take it in a new direction.

Donkey-Skin
Drawing from an early story collection (from Castel Volante)

Charles Perrault, the classic age French writer who penned the classics Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, and Puss in Boots also wrote Peau d’Ane. While fairy tales are indeed spun for the young and the young at heart, Perrault, much like his successor Hans Christian Andresen, delved into pretty frightening, dark, and taboo material that today surprises many people. While it’s still debated whether Perrault hid these details through creative wording or that such material was seen as necessary to aiding children in their adult years, he, like his contemporaries and successors, gave the world many memorable and beloved tales that not only sent many or magical and whimsical journeys, but also gave others thought provoking items to consider.

Donkey Skin (1970) directed by Jacques Demy • Reviews, film + cast •  Letterboxd
The Princess Making Herself Pretty (from Letterboxd)
Review: Donkey Skin - Slant Magazine
The Princess Hiding Out as Donkey Skin (from Slant Magazine)

Catherine Deneuve, an icon of French Cinema, gives one of her most unique performances as The Princess, her Mother the First Queen, and Donkey Skin. Deneuve distinguishes her Princess from the ones commonly showcased in fairy tales and legends by having her be intelligent, resourceful, and selfless. Her willingness to live a life incognito, working hard like the peasants of the land to avoid a wedding that would do more harm than good for herself, her father, and the kingdom makes her a heroine that has earned audience sympathy and support. She’s not arrogant like other princesses, has no issues dressing in commoner garb, and accepts orders from the various homes she asks for work in like any other servant. In a way this is a sort of martyrdom, as she’s convinced her father can’t be dissuaded from the act of incest. When she meets her true love the Red Prince after having gotten a job in his father’s stables, he begins to fall in love with the person she is, seeing all her remarkable qualities, thus paving the way for a happy return.

Donkey Skin (1970) – Midnight Only
The King top a Giant Cat (from Midnight Only)

Jean Marias, a French cinema leading man who began his career with the legendary auteur Jean Cocteau, returns to his fantasy roots with the role of the Blue King. A good man who treats his subjects well and keeps harmony and peace within his kingdom, the Blue King so far fits the profile of the kind of ruler every monarch based country should have. When his beloved Queen dies suddenly, he becomes depressed and lost in his grief. Promising his beloved he would only marry a woman who matched her beauty, the King gets some very bizarre and not at all helpful advice from his astrologer doctor that the only way to keep his promise is to marry his own daughter. So lost in his sadness he somehow agrees to this, and his kingdom ends up in a kind of turmoil as the Princess’ self exile to avoid such blasphemy causes much sadness. With the aid of a neighboring monarchy and the Lilac Fairy, the King slowly begins to realize his error, and slowly all begins to become right again.

Donkey Skin (1970) - IMDb
Films on the Lake Presents Donkey Skin (Peau d'âne) | French Culture

Top: The Red Prince (from the IMDb) Bottom: The Lilac Fairy (from French Culture.org)

Jacques Perrin and Delphine Seyrig offer nice supporting roles as Prince Charming and the Lilac Fairy respectively. A Fairy Tale isn’t complete without Prince Charming, and Perrin gives audiences a nice mixture of a classic Fairy Tale princes and modern thinking prince. A recurring dream has the Prince taking his trusty stead out daily in search of the beauty who he believes is destined to be his bride, and while he comes up short each time, delights in sharing his dreams with the local animals in the forest, whom help when they can in the Prince’s searching. He at first is bewildered by his attraction to the new stable maid Donkey Skin, but after spending time speaking with her, comes to admire her, and soon is made aware of her real identity and helps her restore the balance and harmony to the land. Miss Seyrig’s Fairy Godmother is an absolutely brilliant character by Demy, offering up both the motherly qualities of the classic fairy protector, and the resourcefulness of New Age Women. Seyrig enchants with both whimsy and beauty as she works behind the scenes to ensure all the characters happiness, while also teaching the Blue King some very valuable and humbling lessons.

Ecstatic: Donkey Skin
The Court of the Red Royal Family (from Ecstatic-Blogger)

Jacques Demy once again proves to audiences that just because certain stories are from long ago, doesn’t mean that freshness can’t be brought to them, and gives them one part classic nostalgia from their youth, and one part current vibe to fit the era he makes his films in. Near flawlessly mixing the classic with the contemporary, Demy reminds his viewers why he is the master of the modern fantasy, the modern musical, and the modern Fairy Tale.

( I highly recommend this film to anyone looking for nostalgia with a hint of reinvention, anyone who loves French Cinema, lovers of Catherine Deneuve (like myself), and anyone just looking for something unique. The Criterion Collection Blu Ray, via their Essential Jacques Demy Box Set, offers their usual amazing work in the audio and visual department, Demy’s use of color looking as vibrant and crisp as ever. This write up is done in honor of one of my more recent Followers, Yolanda – Aspergers syndrome – Poetry – Alternative female – Mental illness, specifically the Alternative end of her blog. From what I’ve seen so far of her posts so far, she seems to go for anything recognizable to folks, but in a new and different approach. I think and hope that she’ll appreciate this different flavor to a take on the classic genres of film.)

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

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066207/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donkey_Skin_(film)

https://www.criterion.com/films/28605-donkey-skin

Buying Options

https://www.criterion.com/boxsets/1055-the-essential-jacques-demy

Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri, Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

The Maestro of Horror’s Grand Opus

by Tony Nash

(Halloween Potpourri 5)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Major Spoilers)

(Review is of the uncut Italian language version)

(Author’s Note: This review will be a little different, as I feel to relate the film is to speak of personal viewpoint, so here I’ll be speaking in the first person for much of the review)

Lisa and the Devil (1973) Preview - Color / 3:05 mins - YouTube
A US Poster (from YouTube)

Lisa e il Diavolo (Lisa and the Devil) (1972/73) ****1/2 R

Telly Savalas: Leandro, the Butler/A Demon

Elke Sommer: Lisa Reiner/Elena, Max’s Wife

Alessio Orano: Max, the Countess’ Son

Alida Valli: The Countess

Sylva Koscina: Sophie Leher

Eduardo Fajardo: Francis Leher

Espartaco Santoni: Carlo, Countess’ Husband

Gabriele Tinti: George, the Leher Chauffer

Franz von Treuberg: The Shopkeeper

Kathleen Leone: Lisa’s Friend (as Kathy Leone)

Written by: Mario Bava & Alfredo Leone (as Alfred Leone)

Directed by: Mario Bava

Synopsis: A woman finds herself put through a night of bizarre terror and the supernatural while spending the night at a decrepit villa of a creepy Spanish noble family

Lisa and the Devil (1973)
The Countess recalls the Past (from the IMDb)

After years of having his films compromised by Samuel Z. Arkoff and James H. Nicholson for American distribution, Mario Bava finally achieved complete creative freedom for exhibition in both Europe and the States with his newest film Lisa e il Diavolo. Bava had the concept for the film in his head for years, having jotted down notes and a treatment throughout the years, but couldn’t convince anyone to back the film due to its artistic and experimental nature. The picture finally got greenlight after Bava had a string of successes and one of the Italian studios offered him the opportunity to make any film he wished. What audiences of the time were treated to was a series of surreal imagery and story that had them struggling to comprehend what they were seeing. This botch at the box office caused Producer and co-writer Alfredo Leone to make changes to the film without contacting Bava and the subsequent mess that resulted from the changes led to the first of Bava’s descent into poor health and a heart attack. Not until Bava’s passing was the original film praised.

lisa e il diavolo | Tumblr
The Weeds of Time (from Tumbler)

The film is very hard to explain, Bava employing the painterly qualities he learned from his father to the overall look to the piece. This makes the film seem much more akin to a puzzle that even I your humble reviewer had trouble deciphering. This doesn’t take away from the films’ beauty at all, and it is indeed very much a painting brought to life the way only a mind like Bava’s could achieve. What we the audience end up seeing on screen is a version of Hell in its most devilish form, the realization all of these characters are being forced to relive their horrific deaths night after night as punishment for their sins in life. Whether they try every night to escape their fates isn’t determined, but what we do know is that at least two of the characters are aware of what is really happening, with the littlest of hope they can change history.

Lisa and the Devil (1973)
Devilish Hands at Work (from the IMDb)

Telly Savalas, one of the most iconic character actors of several decades, gets to play in his one and only avant-garde artistic style role with the part of Leandro the Butler. Whether he is Satan himself (as the fresco in the film’s opening suggests) or A demon sent by Satan to ensure history is repeated daily is unknown, but it is clear he holds permanent dominion over this disturbed family and the unfortunate guests who happened to become ensnared in events, and is loving it. Amazingly, Leandro in no way manipulates the events to ensure the Horror of these poor souls continues, and seems to only be a presence that moves in and out of the scenes, interacting with the others when necessary.

(Author’s Note: The lollipop that would become Savalas’ trademark as the character of Kojack originated in this film. Savalas was having difficulties giving up smoking, and Bava recommended he suck on lollipops as a substitute.)

Lisa and the Devil (1973)
Going Deeper into the Madness (from the IMDb)

Elke Sommer, the Austrian beauty, reunites with Bava a year after working with him on Gli Orrori del Castello di Norimberga (The Horror of Nuremburg Castle/Baron Blood) in the role of Lisa. Very little is known about Lisa, other than that she decided to spend her vacation in Spain, which makes her ending up at the villa and her subsequent connection to the other participants even stranger as there’s no way to figure out how this is all happening. Sommer has very little to almost no dialogue in the film, making her like Leandro in that everything seems to happen around her, making her the central figure.

Lisa and the Devil (1973)
The Blind Countess (from the IMDb)
Film Review: Lisa and the Devil (1974) | HNN
The Unstable Max (from Horromews)
Lisa and the Devil (1973)
The Lovely Sophie (from the IMDb)
Lisa e il diavolo (1973) - il Davinotti
Francis and Leandro (from il Davinotti)

The two leads are joined by such performers as Alida Valli, Eduardo Fajardo, Sylva Koscina, and Alessio Orano. These players at one time or another engaged acts of infidelity, betrayal, and murder, and are forced by the power of the Devil to relive those sins, and the deaths they suffered because of them in an immortal loop, dying only to return to life not long after to begin the tragic cycle all over again.

Lisa and the Devil (1973)
House of Puppets (from the IMDb)

Mannequins play an important role in the film as since the majority of the characters are long dead, the life size figures act as recreations of the deceased, fixed and brought back to life by Leandro, once every murder has been committed. How Leandro does thins is never explained, only that each figure is created by a local shopkeeper to fit the likeness of the participants, and then animated by unknown forces.

lisa e il diavolo Tumblr posts - Tumbral.com
Tragedy Lies Behind this Beautiful Facade (from Tumbral)

Like I said in the past , how each viewer interprets a film is based on their own experience, and Lisa e il Diavolo is the ultimate example of this. It can be really difficult to explain this one without giving your own opinion as the imagery Bava goes with is very visceral and is nearly impossible to be objective when discussing it. Since Bava made the film with no audience in mind and truly did make something he himself wanted to see, it makes pinpointing something exact hard. If Bava truly intended for this to be the type of film that every viewer would have a different perspective on after seeing it, then he succeeded a 100 times over since his death in 1980 as the film does continue to fascinate, unnerve, and confound people.

(This film isn’t for everyone, but those who do see it, while bewildered, do come away with interesting experience that leaves them thinking about the film for a long while after seeing it. The Blu Ray from Arrow Video is fairly immaculate, only small hints of age and wear present.)

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

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068863/?ref_=hm_rvi_tt

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

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

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Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri, Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

When Horror Met Trippy Art Cinema

by Tony Nash

(Halloween Potpourri 4)

(all opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

Vampyros Lesbos (1971) - Posters — The Movie Database (TMDb)
US Poster (from the Movie Database)

Vampyros Lesbos (Las Vampiras) (1971) ****1/2 NC-17

Soledad Miranda: Countess Nadine Corday (as Susann Korda)

Ewa Stromberg: Linda Westinghouse (as Ewa Stroemberg)

Dennis Price: Dr. Alwin Seward

Paul Muller: Dr. Steiner

Heidrun Kussin: Agra, Nadine’s Mad Lover

Andrea Montchal: Omar, Linda’s Boyfriend (as Viktor Feldmann)

Jose Martinez Blanco: Morpho, Nadine’s Servant (as J. Martinez Blanco)

Jesus Franco: Memmet, the Mad Caretaker

Written by: Jaime Chavarri, Jesus Franco (as Franco Manera), and Anne Settimo, from a stroy by Chavarri and loosely adapted from Bram Stoker’s Dracula and J. Sheridan le Farnu’s Carmilla

Directed by: Jesus Franco (as Franco Manera)

Synopsis: Real Estate agent Linda Westinghouse is sent by her company to arrange the selling of a property owned by Countess Nadine Corday. The two quickly become romantically involved, only for Linda to discover Nadine is a vampire, turned by the late Count Dracula himself, and is now under her hypnotic influence. Complications arise when Nadine finds herself genuinely falling in love with Linda, while Linda’s boyfriend and a local doctor attempt to free her.

American Genre Film Archive VAMPYROS LESBOS
Hiding from Religion (from American Genre Film Archive)

Jess Franco’s first full on attempt at mixing avant-garde cinema with exploitation cinema is an amazing achievement which showed what Franco was capable of when given the right amount of time and freedom, and offered a pen-ultimate showcase of the talent that Soledad Miranda was fleshing out prior to her tragic death in a car accident. Taking elements from both Stoker’s Dracula and Le Farnu’s Carmilla, Franco and his co writers create a story that, while very basic in both subject and execution, offer up quite a bit of subtext, and deep emotion underneath the surface that while doesn’t seem to show itself as the film is being viewed, becomes clear to the viewer after thinking about the film for some time afterwards.

Vampyros Lesbos (1970) – Midnight Only
Countess Nadine Corday played by the ravishing Soledad Miranda (from Midnight Only)

Soledad Miranda, using the stage name Susann Korda, offers up one of her most subtle, compelling, thought provoking, and finest performance as Nadine Corday. A Countess by birth and once a human, Nadine was turned sometime in the 18th or 19th century by the infamous bloodsucker Count Dracula, and has since seduced and fed on mainly female lovers, having grown to hate men after Dracula betrayed her. Miranda’s soulful and hypnotic look serves the character of Nadine well, and while the actress shows very little emotion, half her choice and half Franco’s choice, there are still many moments where Nadine is clearly in conflict with herself over many of her choices since becoming a vampire, and hasn’t completely lost her humanity in how she feels about certain characters, particularly with Linda and the man servant Morpho. Possibly the only contradiction to her character concerns a woman named Agra, one of Nadine’s former lovers. Like Dracula had done to Nadine, so had Nadine done to Agra and abandoned her, leaving her to be caged in a mental institution. Whether she regrets this entirely is unknown.

Vampyros Lesbos
A Spiritual Ritual….with Blood (from Mondo Digital)

The first in a brief cycle of Franco themes in his experimental age is a female vampire existing in both daylight and night. Whether it began as budget constraints based upon the time frame he had to shoot on location with, or if it really was an artistic decision, Nadine Corday seems to be the first Franco vampire to have transcended the majority of limitations with the species and is able to function as a normal woman within society. That she still needs blood as her sustenance and both religious iconography and prayers repel her maintain the flaws of the vampiric people.

Vampyros Lesbos Blu-ray Review | High Def Digest
Linda Becoming Nadine’s Lover (from High Def Digest)

Ewa Stromberg, a Swedish actress who briefly acted in the 60’s and 70’s get one of her rare major roles in the part of Linda Westinghouse. Little is known of Linda’s life prior to the events of the film, but from all accounts she appears to have led a normal, uneventful, and maybe even boring life with her boyfriend Omar, and it all changes in an instant when she meets Nadine. What makes Linda different to most objects of a vampire’s desires is that she appears to be a fairly willing participant after a brief period of time. Like Nadine, Linda too begins developing real and genuine romantic feelings, but because she isn’t completely under Nadine’s thrall, is able to overcome the influence while recovering from blood loss and exhaustion. Unfortunately, Nadine won her heart fairly and now Linda must decide if she can muster the courage to free herself from damnation, and maybe give Nadine the freedom she felt lost to.

Vampyros Lesbos
The Dubious Dr. Seward (from Mondo Digital)
Vampyros Lesbos
The Mistress and Her Servant (from Mondo Digital)

The two lovely female leads are joined by an eclectic cast of characters including British expat actor Dennis Price, Swiss-German actor Paul Muller, Spanish actors Andres Montchal and Jose Martinez Blanco, two trying desperately to save Linda, one trying to aid Nadine in her plans, and another out for himself. Price is particularly effective as a play to the Dracula character Dr. Seward, this go around called Alwin Seward. Unlike the literary counterpart, this Seward isn’t entirely what he seems, and his methods are equally strange in getting to the bottom of things. The remaining cast seem to have little to do, but are still good at their respective parts.

Vampyros Lesbos / She Killed in Ecstasy - Psycho Drive-In
Vampyros Lesbos – [FILMGRAB]

The color red plays a very pivotal role in the film. Often used as the lighting in a room, the color of clothing, or in the form of liquid, red is ever present in the world Nadine Corday. Red showcases the always lurking aspects of life, death, love, blood, sex, death, immortality, and the erotic, acting as a symbol of what human life can never truly break away from, and that in spite of humanity’s evolvement in morality and behavior, is always there, waiting and watching in silence.

Vampyros Lesbos BD Review (originally published 2015)
A Tragic Love Story (from Genre Grinder)

While aspects of Homoerotic and Lesbian romances have always had a thin veiled presence in the cinema, usually subtly hinted at, Jess Franco broke a major boundary by having the Nadine and Linda characters openly, and very explicitly, engage in a sexual relationship. A sometimes forgotten aspect of Horror films is that occasionally at the heart of them is a tragic, dark, and twisted love story, and the one between Nadine and Linda is no different. What begins as a simple seduction to quench an everlasting need for blood to survive turns into a love that likely can never be for Nadine, as for her to do so would mean killing the woman she loves, thus losing the innocence and purity that made said love possible. For Linda, her unintentional falling in love presents a major complication: does she want to be free to be with her boyfriend, or will she want to succumb to most forbidden temptation to be one of the damned to live forever.

Vampyros Lesbos Blu-ray Review | High Def Digest
A Symbolic Representation of Light and Darkness (from High Def Digest)

One of Jess Franco’s more hypnotic films, and one that keeps a coherent narrative floating in the midst of varying symbolism and surrealistic imagery, VL proves to be a somewhat lesser feat of artistic achievement and showcases what Franco could’ve achieved had events not taken a tragic turn.

(This is another occasion where I feel I can’t recommend a film to everyone in spite of its fine quality and quantity, only because Franco’s latter period is clearly not to everyone tastes, even with higher production values and the feeling that though there’s an exploitive feel to the film, the film doesn’t showcase it for its own sake. Again, it’s one of those films that what you’re supposed to be looking for isn’t present as you’re watching it, but will start to become clearer as you go through everything you’ve witnessed afterwards. This is another example of sometimes having to really make your own choice, even if the majority says it is a film to start with regarding Franco.)

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

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066380/

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

buying options

Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri, Film: Analysis/Overview, 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

buying options

From Severin Films
From Amazon

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

buying options

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

A Filmic Acid Trip

That Also Defies Definition

by Tony Nash

(Obscure & Unique)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers to Spoiler Free)

(Author’s Note: Few images exist of this film and since there’s quite a bit of nudity, not many images will be shown)

The Lady Kills (1971): Mondo Macabro Blu-ray

Perverse et Docile (The Lady Kills/Wild & Willing) (1971) **** NC-17

Carole Lebel: Françoise Fremond

Albert Simono: John Greenfield

Christian Duc: Christian Belmont (as Christian Duke)

Paul Descombes: Karl Mohr

Claude Beautheac: François Ficheux

Charles Martin: The Roman Fashion Designer

Katia Tchenko: Hina

Written & Directed by: Jean-Louis van Belle

Synopsis: A group of men gang up on a woman and proceed to rape her repeatedly. About 20 years later, these same men are being killed in very unique fashion by a mysterious woman named Françoise Fremond. Why she is doing this is unknown.

NSFW Gallery: The Lady Kills (Mondo Macabro Blu-ray) Screenshots ...
Still From Mondo Macabro

Jean-Louis van Belle, a French-Belgian underground filmmaker who became a hit with the Swinging Sixties audiences with his funky Sci-Fi Horror film Le Sadique aux Dents Rouges (The Sadist with Red Teeth) and his mockumentary Paris Interdit (Forbidden Paris), proved at that same period he could be thought provoking and artistic while also entertaining with Perverse et Docile. Mixing Mondo documentary films, Giallo Suspense, Travel films showing the sights, and avant-garde cinematography, van Belle concocts a very unusual story of machismo run amok and the revenge that comes about when this psyche goes too far. By having the audience follow his heroine as she goes from country to country, eliminating a series of men who were involved in a horrid act of rape, van Belle not only shows off the beauty of the various countries he was able to film in, but also shows an independent woman’s fierce determination to bring the masculine domination of European society down a very harsh peg. Combining inventive cinematography, including an x-ray style opening credit sequence, with the traditional storytelling, Belle takes his viewers through a vignette style journey.

Amazon.com: The Lady Kills / Pervertissima [Blu-ray]: Carole Lebel ...
Still from Amazon

Carole Lebel, a Belgian model and actress, takes the lead in her final film before retiring as the seductive and mysterious Françoise. Almost nothing is known about Françoise, even as the camera follows her as she kills man after man for seemingly no reason at all. All audiences know is that she can’t stand men who take advantage of women in such fashions, and even more disgusted that they live such hedonistic lifestyles. Lebel proves herself a capable actress as she plays it calm and cool, never showing emotion until the crucial moment as she lures her prey into false senses of security and safety, nearly perfectly embodying a Black Widow spider. In order to keep the murders as isolated and unrelated as possible, she kills each man differently, using an array of weapons from a gun, to acid, to knives, to bombs. She also uses a series of aliases, wigs, and personalities so the men are easily stunned by her charms, never knowing until practically too late what is about to befall them.

NSFW Gallery: The Lady Kills (Mondo Macabro Blu-ray) Screenshots ...
Still from Cultsploitation

The remainder of the cast is made up of local area Belgian and French actors/actresses, playing the victims and other characters that make up the world Van Belle paints. Not much can be said about these performers as they’re only seen for maybe 10 minutes per vignette and all that can be gotten from those brief moments is their careers and preferred sexual escapades. The little info per the IMDb on the performers at hand is that they mainly and briefly acted in French and Belgian television, only Albert Simono having had a 30 plus year career in both TV and films, albeit in small roles.

Amazon.com: The Lady Kills / Pervertissima [Blu-ray]: Carole Lebel ...
From Amazon

While Van Belle entertains with a Mystery in travelogue documentary form, he also takes a scathing stab at male patriarchal chauvinism that seemed to be at a height in Europe in the 60’s and 70’s. Second Wave Feminism was in full swing, and even in Europe women were beginning to assert themselves as individuals and breaking the shackles of the once viewed as norm roles they were expected to take. That Van Belle mixes this with entertainment makes the film all the more interesting and worthy of getting wider appeal. While at times non-linear in going into the lead character’s motivations, and even a little on the psychedelic in terms of cinematography, the film still captures attention and interest.

(I do highly recommend giving this film a viewing as while there’s a lot to find incoherent and down right bizarre in some of the shots, it does in fact have a linear narrative that once the ending begins to roll, everything will come into a clear perspective. Van Belle is grossly underrated as a filmmaker, and while his work is definitely low budget is the work of a man with a lot of passion, determination, and talent, so only his avant-garde underground style seems to be what scares off people from looking into his work. The Blu Ray from Mondo Macabro offers up an immaculate transfer in both audio and visual quality, everything looking pristine as if it was just made and released to the public. As a nice bonus there’s a 30 minute documentary about Van Belle that was filmed at a retrospective in France honoring his contributions to cinema, featuring comments from critics, Van Belle’s favorite crew members & actors, and from Van Belle himself, who for some reason asked to not have his face shown on camera.)

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

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0258019/?ref_=fn_nm_nm_1a

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perverse_et_Docile

buying options

https://www.mondo-macabro.com/mondo-macabro-blu-ray/the-lady-kills/pervertissima.html

https://www.moviesunlimited.com/the-lady-kills-pervertissima/843276021191

Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri, Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics