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When The Law and The Mafia Become One

by Tony Nash

(a Part of Poliziotto e Criminale: The Poliziotteschi of the 1970’s)

(all opinion are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(This review is of the original Italian language version)

Confessions of a Police Captain (1971) - IMDb

Confessione di un Commissario di Polizia al Procuratore della Repubblica (Confessions of a Police Captain/Confessions of a Police Commissioner to the Assistant District Attorney) (1971) R *****

Franco Nero: Sostituto Procuratore Traini

Martin Balsam: Commissario Giacomo Bonavia

Marilu Tolo: Serena Li Puma

Luciano Catenacci: Ferdinando Lomunno (as Luciano Lorcas)

Claudio Gora: Procuratore Generale Malta

Arturo Dominici: Avvocato Canistraro

Gianfranco Prete: Giampaolo Rizzo

Michele Gammino: Gammino

Adolfo Lastretti: Michele Li Puma

Written by: Damiano Damiani and Salvatore Laurani, based on a story by Damiani & Fulvio Gicca Palli

Directed by: Damiano Damiani

Synopsis: Deputy D.A. Triani investigates what he first believes is a Police coverup when Commissioner Bonavia intentionally has a known psychotic criminal released to assassinate an untouchable mafioso with ties to the local government. Things change drastically however, when the Police Commissioner admits the Mafia and Government are working together, possibly even to the most important of officials.

Confessions.of.a.Police.Captain.1971.DUBBED.720p.BluRay.x264 ...

Filmmaker Damiano Damiani, well known for his social commentary and conspiracy films, presents one of his first Police and Political Thrillers that doubles as both entertaining and thought provoking. What at first appears to be a simple case of a high-ranking police official abusing his authority to finally get a dangerous criminal out of the way turns into a high-level investigation into the complicity of government officials helping the Mafia. At a time when people believed the Government of Italy was filled with Mafia plants, Damiani offers a disturbing idea that there is in fact no difference between politicians and gangsters, and that the supposed crime bosses are merely front men for the even more dastardly ambitious true powers. Police corruption is also highlighted within the film as the cop co-lead in the film has finally snapped from playing deaf and dumb to the illegal goings on around him and feels only by going rogue can any justice be done.

Confessions of a Police Captain (1971) Download YIFY Movie Torrent ...

Damiani, who was a member of Italy’s leftist movement to incite positive reform in his country, was no stranger to causing controversy and putting his life in danger. A year earlier he made a film about a teenage girl who single handedly defied social conventions and the Mafia by reporting a prominent Sicilian gangster had raped her. Damiani received threats on his life from the gangsters involved who were still alive after the fiasco had ended. This go around he was risking facing the wrath of both the Mafia and the Government itself over the innuendoes he was implying in regards to the Mafia and Government in a type of alliance.

Confessions of a Police Captain streaming online

Franco Nero, one of Italy’s finest actors, gives a subtle and nuanced performance as Traini. An idealistic Public Prosecutor fresh from internship, Traini is certain of corruption when a criminal with confirmed mental instability is all of sudden released under the orders of the Police Commissioner. When the man is gunned down in the building of a crooked construction developer believed to really be a mobster, Traini is certain the Police Commissioner has become a vigilante, looking to have the criminals eliminate each other through duplicity. Nero soon has Traini going into a form of paranoia and self-doubt as when he begins to dig deeper into the case, he finds many people he’s met in the justice system have connections to the Mafia. Nero has his character’s idealism breaking apart as he slowly comes to understand the disgraced Commissioner’s warnings that sometimes those meant to uphold the law in fact mock it for their own gains. Whether Traini will decide to fight back, or crumble under the weight of the devastating truth is left open to viewer opinion.

Confessions of a Police Captain / Confessione di un commissario di ...

Martin Balsam, a versatile American character actor, gives a rare layered and in depth performance as Commissario Bonavia Balsam plays Bonavia a cop that was once hopeful and idealistic, but quickly became hardened to the process of justice as he began to realize how adjustable the departments morals and conscious’ were. Initially willing to play ball because he thought the greater good would come from letting the bad guys think they were fooling the police, Balsam has Bonavia fatalistically realize that the corruption he first noticed went into the government houses as well, particularly after the shooting of a union leader whom his daughter loved, and the death of a shepherd boy who witnessed the death of a land owner who wouldn’t sell his property. Balsam shows a true inner conflict within the character Bonavia as it becomes clear he was once OK with looking the other way, but after a time realized he was only fooling himself and that he’s in fact a collaborator, albeit in a reluctant sense. Finding out the mafioso he tried to have killed was behind the incidents that hardened him years earlier, Bonavia comes to realize he can either still knuckle under the thumb of the powers at hand, or he can do something about it, even if it means the cost of his life at the hands of the men he helped put into prison in the past.

Confessions of a Police Captain - Internet Movie Firearms Database ...

A slew of Italian character performers including Marilu Tolo, Arturo Dominici, Claudio Gora, and Luciano Catenacci help make up an interesting gallery of characters who play varied crucial roles as either gangsters, those associated to gangsters, and politicians leading double lives and criminals. Every character is either helpful or hindering to Triani in his investigation.

(Author’s note: To not spoil the ending, not much will be said of these other characters)

Confessions of a Police Captain - Wikidata

Complex, intriguing, entertaining, and involved, the film offers a mix of thrilling storytelling and social commentary that only auteur Jean-Pierre Melville was previously capable of making work. Damiani is more of a heavy hitter than Melville in his subtlety in handling the material, but still makes enough of an impact that fans have plenty to find involving and engaging.

(I highly recommend giving this film a look at as its one of the cornerstones of the Euro Crime genre, and partly made up the template for what genre regular filmmakers like Umberto Lenzi and Fernando Di Leo would implement into their own work. The Blu Ray from the German distributor FilmArt was sadly limited to only 1000 copies and is now out of print, but can be found for 25 Euros on the secondary markets and can be viewed [possibly only as the English dub track] on the internet site Tubi. FilmArt’s audio and visual transfer of the film was stunning and looked very crisp and clear. The audio has some moments of popping, but given the age of the film and the copies of copies floating all over the grey market area companies over the years, the quality is still high end.)

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

The Wiley Gangster

by Tony Nash

(a Part of Poliziotto e Criminale: The Poliziotteschi of the 1970’s)

(all opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(This review is of the original Italian language version)

Napoli spara! | Film, Fantascienza, Storia del cinema

Napoli Spara! (Weapons of Death/Shoot, Naples, Shoot!) (1977) **** R

Leonard Mann: Commissario Antonio Belli

Henry Silva: Salvatore Santoro

Jeff Blynn: Special Agent Salvatore Guidi

Massimo Deda: Gennarino

Ida Galli: Lucia Parisi (as Evelyne Stewart)

Massimo Vanni: The Undercover Cop

Tino Bianchi: Don Alfredo Criscuolo

Mario Pilari: Michele Rosati

Enrico Maisto: Ferdinando Licata

Tommaso Palladino: Vincenzo Calise

Adolfo Lastretti: The Pedophile

Written by: Gianfranco Clerici and Vincenzo Mannino

Directed by: Mario Caiano

Synopsis: Naples Police Commissioner Belli becomes determined to stop on the rise mobster Santoro, but can’t pin anything on him, while also trying to convince a youngster to stop hustling people. While finding evidence against the crafty criminal, Belli deals with everything from armed robbery to petty crime to sexual offenders.

Weapons of Death (Napoli spara!) - Internet Movie Firearms ...

By the late 1970’s, the Euro Crime films were beginning to dwindle in popularity, but some were still able to entertain and excite audiences all over Italy. Napoli Spara! is one of many examples of a late period of Euro Crime to maintain an exciting atmosphere and story. Mixing a central story with some side plot lines, audiences get to see the main police inspector character go from mission to mission, and meeting to meeting with either suspects or fellow police force members as he tries to end the reign of terror and violence being instigated by an ambitious mobster looking to become a major power player in the area. While a fun and entertaining ride, like any police film of the period it had its relations to real life events. The local governing body of Naples at this period had collapsed and the Mafia pretty much had total control of the city, but there was still an element of order still in play via the police department, albeit a somewhat overworked and over taxed department relying primarily on each unit’s own personal judgments.

Weapons of Death (Napoli spara!) - Internet Movie Firearms ...

Leonard Mann, an Italian American actor who returned to his family’s roots to act in films, does the standard, but still effective performance as the lead detective Belli. A cop frustrated by the machinations of both the professional underworld and the petty amateur criminals, Mann has Belli constantly on edge and giving both his superiors, and the men under his command constant speeches in how they should be more effective curtailing the constantly rising crime rates of the area. While unapologetically rough, gruff, and no-nonsense, Belli also has a sensitive side in his fatherly affection of the juvenile delinquent Gennarino, a hustler and con artist Belli constantly tries to reform, with seemingly no results. Mann shows off his capabilities as a stuntman in the film when Belli must climb atop a stolen tanker truck to subdue the driver who has just caused the death of a family on an afternoon drive.

Weapons of Death (Napoli spara!) - Internet Movie Firearms ...

Henry Silva, one of the many 50’s and 60’s eras American actors who had a successful second career in Italy, is his usual smiling menace and steely eyed stone face as Santoro. One of the deadlier baddies of the Euro Crime genre, Santoro leads daring robberies in broad daylight with little worry of who gets in his way. His aim is to take over one of the bigger syndicates from one of the ailing dons of the crime families. While he has little concern for the majority of civilians who often become casualties of his crimes, he has a surprising respect for Commissioner Belli who’s constantly on his tail and dogging him. This is partly because Belli has saved his life via competitors and because Santoro respects a man who doesn’t let the confines of procedure stop him from getting the job done.

(Sadly, Silva didn’t provide his voice for the English dubbing)

Napoli spara: Guida TV, Trama e Cast - TV Sorrisi e Canzoni

Ida Galli, was more known in the seventies by her Anglo pseudonym Evelyn Stewart (and its occasional variant spellings), makes a very brief, but necessary cameo appearance as Lucia Parisi. Lucia provides the key to helping take down Santoro, but is probably unaware of what importance she holds. Jeff Blynn, an American model in Europe turned actor, plays a supporting role of agent Guidi. Guidi is a special operative that primarily works undercover as a cab driver who deals mainly in thefts via automobiles, and also follows around people of interest for arrest and questioning by the police.

Weapons of Death (Napoli spara!) - Internet Movie Firearms ...

An interesting cast note, the character of Guidi was originally meant to feature more prominently in the film, and was to be played by Maurizio Merli. Leonard Mann wasn’t keen on working with Merli after having heard stories about Merli’s on set behavior, and having met the actor at one point and taking an immediate dislike to him.

Inseguimento car chase - Napoli spara! 1977 - YouTube

By the numbers in terms of plot and action, Napoli Spara! still offers the high octane entertainment that fans of the time and even the fans of today expect from the genre. Even on the smaller scale than its predecessors, there’s still plenty to love about the film.

(I do highly recommend this film for fans of action crime films and the Euro Crime genre as a whole. The ending is something of a let down and not the usual fare that fans would expect, and while certainly different and daring, unfortunately hurts the film more than helps. It would’ve been interesting to see Leonard Mann and Maurizio Merli working together in the same film, but no one can really blame Mann for being wary of Merli’s reputation as something of a prima donna. Merli’s name on the film certainly would’ve raised in the ante in anticipation, profit, and even budget for the film’s overall success, but the cast at hand still does a fine job. The film is on a Blu Ray double bill with Italia Amano e Armata (A Special Cop in Action) from Dorado Films. Their transfer of the film via audio and visual is really good considering they’re a relatively small company. )

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

Indiana Jones…As Envisioned By Just Jaeckin

by Tony Nash

(Artistic Erotica 3)

(Mild Spoilers)

(All Opinions are of the author alone)

(This review is of the longer original French language version)

(Author’s Note: While not abundant in nudity, certain stills may be repeated)

Gwendoline (1984) - IMDb

Gwendoline (1984) NC-17 ****1/2

Tawny Kitaen: Gwendoline

Brent Huff: Willard

Zabou Breitman: Beth (as Zabou)

Bernadette Lafont: The Queen

Jean Rougerie: D’Arcy

Written & Directed by: Just Jaeckin, inspired by the comic strip The Adventures of Sweet Gwendolyn by John Willie

Synopsis: With the aid of a friend, a woman escapes from a nunnery to locate her father, an eccentric butterfly collector. When she learns he’s died, she pleads with a mercenary seaman to help her locate an elusive butterfly to cement her father’s legacy. Along the way they deal with pirates, white slavers, savage cannibal natives, and a previously thought mythical tribe of genetically altered Amazon women.

The Perils of Gwendoline (1984) - Just Jaeckin | Review | AllMovie

After his international successes with the artistic erotica Emmanuelle and Histoire d’O (The Story of O), filmmaker Just Jaeckin decided to tackle an entirely new adventure with a fantastical erotic adventure film inspired by an adult comic strip series about an adventurous young woman named Gwendolyn and her wayward sidekick. Not wanting to repeat the earlier successes of his softcore erotic masterpieces, but at the same time realizing it was this light erotica that catapulted him into the limelight and interest of producers, Jaeckin wanted something that spoke to his already existing motifs and style, but was also something new and creative. While inspired by the comic, Jaeckin in his usual auteur fashion wasn’t going to be necessarily be faithful to the source material, though he did in some fashion maintain the whimsical and humorous nature of it. What evolved was a fun mixture of humor, adventure, romance, Science Fiction, erotica, and a little bit of thrills all wrapped up in a quirky adventure about the search for an ultra-rare and elusive butterfly that takes the three people pursuing it into a realm of the fantastic and mysterious that they will never forget.

The Perils of Gwendoline | Flixster

Tawny Kitaen, an American model and actress, known most notably as Kevin Sorbo’s wife in the TV series and Made for TV movies The Adventures of Hercules, got her first taste of international fame as the title character Gwendoline. Sheltered by convent nuns her whole life, Gwendoline is at first very naïve, totally unfamiliar with how the world works and the lust and passion men feel when they look upon her beauty. As the film progresses, Gwendoline sheds her naivety and innocence, becoming courageous, strong minded, and very self-assertive. What starts off as a journey to save her father’s name, reputation, and legacy merges into a dual journey that finds Gwendoline on a self-discovery sojourn that teaches her much about herself, others, and life itself. She also has something of a sexual awakening that plays an equally large role in her maturing as the film progresses on. Kitaen’s looks and her innocent face make her portrayal of the Gwendoline character all the more perfect as she embodies the character almost like a second skin.

Gwendoline (1984) Free Download | Rare Movies | Cinema of the World

Brent Huff, an American actor turned TV director, is a surprising hit in the role of Willard. An Indiana Jones type of adventurer with far less selfless heroics and moral scruples, Willard is mercenary for hire who initially doesn’t care about how or where he gets money, just so long as he gets. When he first meets Gwendoline and her companion, he’s very crass, vulgar, to the point, and violent. Constantly at odds with the two women over what he sees as a trifle and fruitless expedition, he unexpectedly finds himself becoming more and more fascinated and admiring of Gwendoline and her inner strength and resolve. While at first perplexed and flustered by it, he soon becomes very welcoming and glad of Gwendoline’s love and affection, going to the point of telling her he shares her feelings and that he too loves her. This doesn’t lessen his mercenary and greedy impulses, but it does lead him to think carefully about what prizes are worth going after.

Quad Cinema on Twitter: "We've just added 35mm screenings of Just ...

Zabou Breitman, credited in the film as just Zabou, an underrated French character actress and ingénue type, nearly steals the whole show as Beth. As Gwendoline’s closest friend and lady-in-waiting, Beth feels the constant pressure to make sure her friend and charge is safe. At times completely exasperated by her bad luck and the seemingly unending obstacles in the way, Beth goes on short sprints of tirades that are both humorous and exhilarating as she vents her frustrations to Gwendoline, Willard, and to the various peoples they encounter, that not only allows them to get away from dangers, but gives their enemies a total surprise. She too takes a trip of self-discovery, and like Gwendoline, learns quite a bit about herself and what she is capable of.

(Author’s Note: While she was initially proud of the film, Zabou in the last several years distanced herself from it in the wake of revelations about the producer’s intent of the project. Just Jaeckin himself has expressed hope her opinion will one day change, and see it for the positives again.)

The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak Trailer ...

What separates this film from Jaeckin’s usual fare is the unusual amount of violence in it. While not overly gory in any way, the types of violence shown is quite unexpected for a man normally known for erotica with cleverly done innuendos. Sudden bursts in hostage situations and other moments, and occasional acts of cannibalism make for quite the juxtaposition with moments of tenderness and sensuality.

Gwendoline [Limited Edition Blu-ray] – Severin Films

Outrageous, funny, thrilling, exciting, and entertaining, Gwendoline is many a growing boy’s dream of fast paced adventure and plentiful feminine nudity. Pure fun from start to finish, Just Jaeckin successfully proves artistry and entertainment mix well together with this oddity that works on many levels.

(While abundant in nudity and violence, this is one of the few NC-17 films I can recommend to audiences, though it will appeal more to those who don’t see themselves as prudish. The official rating is R according to the IMDB, and while the violence and nudity isn’t excessive, is enough that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. There is a cut version called The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik-Yak which I believe eliminates some of the back story and extended scenes, though does give the film the 1930’s adventure serial vibe Jaeckin did try to preserve from the original comic strip. The Blu Ray from Severin Films is beautiful looking and offers both the original uncut version in both the original French language and English dub, as well as the dubbed cut version, and a slew of extras including a new commentary featuring stars Tawny Kitean and Brent Huff who also reminisce about the experience.  Just Jaeckin and his main creative team also give interviews about the filming process and their experiences too.)

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

Before Anastasia & Christian…. There was Sarah & Michael

by Tony Nash

(Artistic Erotic Drama 2)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(This review is of the original Italian language version)

(Author’s Note: Because of the amount of nudity sexually charged scenes, some stills may be repeated) Eleven Days, Eleven Nights: jessica moore, mary ...


11 Giorni, 11 Notti (Eleven Days, Eleven Nights/11 Days, 11 Nights/Fantasy Becomes Reality) (1987) NC-17 ****

Jessica Moore: Sarah Asproon

Joshua McDonald: Michael Terenzi

Mary Sellars: Helen Porter

Laura Gemser: Dorothy Tipton

Tom Mojack: Dan, Construction Manager

David Brandon: Peter

Written by: Rosella Drudi (as Sarah Asproon) and Claudio Fragasso (as Clyde Anderson)

Directed by: Joe D’Amato

Synopsis: Construction executive Michael is all set to marry his sweetheart until he encounters the enticing Sarah while on a ferry. In spite of telling Sarah he’s getting married in 11 days, she convinces Michael they can be together until his wedding day. Unbeknownst to Michael, Sarah’s chosen him as the 100th man of her book, detailing 99 other experiences from manipulated affairs.

Eleven Days Eleven Nights (1987) – Least Worst Option

Aristide Massaccesi, better known by his pseudonym Joe D’Amato, the master of exploitation and erotic cinema, tried something a little different as he was nearing the end of the glory years of Italian genre filmmaking. While still using his favorite subjects of sensational sex and very basic plotlines, what D’Amato does with this particular film goes into a new direction in that the characters, while partially one dimensional, have a little depth to them and in many ways the audience can relate and sympathize with them as they feel like regular people who can be encountered in real life. The erotica is still very high in the film, but in this case isn’t done simply for the sensationalism that many of D’Amato’s (with some exceptions, including this one) and other directors films of the 70’s and 80’s tended to lean toward, there is in fact a point to every scene of sexual escapade and flirtation, showing audiences how the affair begins, and what is slowly begins to turn into in spite of the instigating party. While the plot of the film is basic, D’Amato takes his audience through a unique adventure in which his characters discover things about themselves, go through trials & tribulations, and ultimately will come full circle in the realization of what they want, and have needed all along.

Eleven Days, Eleven Nights / Eleven Days, Eleven Nights: 11 giorni ...

An interesting note to the film is the screenwriting duo who handled the script. Rosella Drudi and Claudio Fragasso were usually the script helmers of schlock maestro Bruno Mattei’s crazy films, but here they fashion a screenplay that mixes Romantic Drama with steamy erotica in just the right amount that makes for a fine adult film without the feeling that the viewer is watching thinly disguised pornography. Drudi, one of the few lady screenwriters of the fun hokey cinema genre, decided to capitalize a little on the success of Just Jaeckin’s international hit Emmanuelle by using the pseudonym Sarah Asproon for her screen credit. There really had been a woman named Emmanuelle whose memoirs became the basis for Jaeckin’s successful film, and Drudi attempted to make it look like there really was a Sarah Asproon and that she too gave her life story for the screen.

Taylor on Twitter: "Released in Italy 33 years ago today, Joe D ...

Download Eleven Days, Eleven Nights (1987) YIFY HD Torrent ...`

Jessica Moore and Joshua McDonald do fine jobs as the co-leads of the film. Moore, whose real name was Luciana Ottaviani, plays Sarah Asproon as an ambitious writer looking to do anything for success. She seems to care little for the many men she’s hurt in order to collect the necessary information and data needed to fuel her exaggerated depictions of a woman’s various affairs. This also extends to the unsuspecting Michael Terenzi, but in a very short time, it begins to look as though Sarah is having second thoughts on what she’s doing to him due to growing feelings for him, or if she realizes he’s not the type of person to do this sort of thing with, and to. This was to be Moore’s only big-time success in her brief career as a major star. Little to nothing is known of Joshua McDonald as to whether he was an American who did a couple of Italian films or if he was a native Italian using an American stage name, but what is known is his surprising subtlety fine performance as Michael Terenzi. Michael is an average, everyday type of guy who works hard and is in a loving, if slightly boring relationship. When he meets Sarah on board a ferry and has a brief, steamy tryst with her, his entire world changes over night. What at first feels like a last bout of adventure so he can be fully faithful to his fiancé soon turns into a frustrating addictive obsession Michael slowly loses control over. McDonald reveals Michael as a man stuck in a loop who has to go through a form of Baptism of Fire to find out what people and things are the most important to him.

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In a short, but necessary role in the film is the 70’s Italian sex symbol Laura Gemser. In a rare non nude performance, she plays Sarah’s friend and publisher Dorothy who encourages her to continue her affair with the unsuspecting Michael. More interested in money than her client’s personal integrity and wants, Dorothy has near constant arguments with Sarah over how the 100th man of her book should be presented. Germser was mainly known as a counterpart to Silvia Kristel in the erotic drama department, going so far as to play a character called Black Emmanuelle.

(Author’s Note: Today Gemser lives in quiet retirement in Italy)

Download Eleven Days, Eleven Nights (1987) YIFY HD Torrent ...

While not what sexploitation aficionados might expect, and what those first timers will be surprised by when seeing it, the film is still quite good. That D’Amato doesn’t linger the same amount of time on each sex scene, and that the these scenes do have a point to them make 11 Days, 11 Nights an exception within the sexploitation genre. That it tries to rise above what it looks like on paper makes it a worthwhile film to check out as it doesn’t play what goes on between the two characters as just shock value material, that something far deeper is slowly revealing itself.

(This is the 2nd time in writing that I’m going to say I can’t recommend a film. Just like with Jess Franco’s La Comtesse Noir it isn’t because the film is that bad or so poorly made it can’t be appreciated for the positive quality lying beneath it, but simply because it’s not to everyone’s taste. The sex scenes aren’t uncomfortable to look at, but there will be people who’ll suspect that D’Amato spends a little more time than he should on them. As long as the viewer takes into consideration that sex is what is driving force in the relationship between the two leads, the sex can be treated as a necessary part of the plot. The film is in no way vulgar by any means, but again because sex and some sex laden dialogue is treated fairly frank and to the point, some viewers might find this a turn off. The Blu Ray release of the film by 88 Films through their Italian Collection line is fantastic. The visual and audio transfer of the film is near pristine, with only hints of age here and there. Extras include two interviews and an audio commentary from Italian genre and exploitation cinema expert Troy Howarth.)

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Eleven Days, Eleven Nights – The Italian Collection 54


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

Linda: A Girl Who Wanted to Love, but Couldn’t

by Tony Nash

(The Artistic Erotic Drama 1)

(Spoilers Ahead)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(This review is of the French language original)

(Author’s Note: Due to the fair bit of nudity in the film, stills may sometimes be repeated)

Le journal intime d'une nymphomane Blu-ray Release Date July 31 ...

Le Journal Intime d’une Nymphomane (The Secret Diary of a Nymphomaniac/Sinner: The Diary of a Nymphomaniac) (1973) **** NC-17

Montserrat Prous: Linda Vargas (as Mona Proust)

Jacqueline Laurent: Rosa Ortiz

Anne Libert: Countess Anna de Monterey

Kali Hansa: Maria Toledano (as Gaby Herman)

Howard Vernon: The Doctor

Doris Thomas: Mrs. Schatz, the Photographer

Manuel Pereiro: Mr. Ortiz

Francisco Acosta: Alberto, the Married Playboy (as Gene Harris)

Jesus Franco: Commissaire Hernandez

Written by: Jesus Franco (as Jesus Franco Manera) & Elisabeth Ledu de Nesle

Directed by: Jesus Franco (as Clifford Brown)

Synopsis: A woman doing a lesbian act for a risqué night club meets a man she recognizes, but he doesn’t know her. She gets him drunk and while he’s passed out, phone’s the police and kills herself. When the man is wrongfully charged in her murder, his wife investigates the dead woman’s past, and soon learns a tragic story of lost innocence, humiliation, sexual awakening, and, shattered redemption.

Le Journal Intime d'une Nymphomane | Offscreen

In 1973 Jess Franco was at the end of his seclusion after the death of his Muse Soledad Miranda, and before journeying into his new chaotic, less narrative driven films, made a dark exploitation film that actually rises above its poster and stills images with an in depth story and complex, even though some are one -dimensional, characters. What begins as a murder-mystery style investigation by a wife when a seemingly typical prostitute kills herself and frames a man who turns out to be her husband, turns into an odyssey that reveals stolen innocence, a sexual rebirth, attempts at normalcy, and a failed salvation. Questions soon begin to arise if the woman was truly a lost soul or simply resisted in one way or another the help of others.  Somber in that it doesn’t treat naked women and sex scenes as the wacky and racy romps that other exploitation films of the times did, Franco doesn’t make these scenes out to be dirty or only for derelicts, but can be positive or negative based on the individual and circumstances. He also goes into the territory of even though people and experiences can help shape the victims of such moments, what those individuals do in the wake of those moments and the choices they make inevitably are of their own making.

JOURNAL INTIME D'UNE NYMPHOMANE, LE - Chronique/Critique/Review ...

Franco’s usual display of locations is not on display here as it would be in many of his other films, but he is able to get in some fantastic brief shots of old public avenues, chateau’s and beautiful public buildings. These don’t necessarily add anything t the plot at hand, but they do offer a nice change of pace to some otherwise dreary indoor scenes.

Le Journal Intime d'une Nymphomane | Offscreen

Test Blu-ray / Le Journal intime d'une nymphomane, réalisé par ...

Montserrat Prous, a little-known Spanish actress credited here under the name Mona Proust, gives a dynamic and compelling performance as Linda Vargas. Initially a wide-eyed, dreaming big teenager who comes to city to seek a better life, her world drastically changes for the worst when she’s molested while at the local fair by an older man. Her life looks to take a turn for the better when she meets a bisexual countess whom she engages in a romance with. After a spat that has Linda leaving the countess for good, she begins a torrid life of drugs and porno pics with a stripper lover. A drug raid by the police leads her into the care of a holistic doctor with bizarre methods who tries to help her, but her continuous need for physical pleasure constantly threatens her success. Prous plays Linda as a woman who just wanted to love and be loved, but her first experience being unwanted and traumatic, has her making bad choice after bad choice. In the Countess and the doctor, she is shown to have positive chances to have a good life, but either a self-destructive inner nature, or an inability to control herself always ruins those opportunities. While at times Prous shows Linda as wanting to change, she somehow always feels she’s a hopeless case doomed to a horrid existence.

Le journal intime d'une nymphomane (1973) -

Interestingly, both Franco and Prous leave the audience wondering about Linda’s sexual awakening and true sexuality. She certainly isn’t heterosexual or lesbian as she clearly doesn’t seem interested in just one gender, and while she can be easily be called bisexual with a preference for women, her openness to making love to anyone as stated in her highly explicit diary, this somehow doesn’t fit either. Linda can most likely be counted as one of the first pansexual characters in that she doesn’t really discriminate in who wants to have sex with her, as long as they are good people.

le-journal-intime-d-une-nymphomane-004 | Critique Film

Journal intime d'une nymphomane, Le - Le Chat qui Fume

The other two important characters in the story are Countess de Monterey and The Doctor, played by Anne Libert and Howard Vernon respectively. The Countess is a free loving woman of royal decent who forms a brief, but forever strong bond with Linda. The first true loves of each other’s lives, jealousy quickly tears them apart when not only the love of the same man interferes, but also Linda’s somewhat selfish nature of self-pity. Sadly, Linda’s death and abandonment leaves the Countess longing for her, even upon the realization the poor girl was on the road to self-destruction. The Doctor is a mysterious figure who may or not be what he seems, but clearly has good intentions. His attitude in regards to personal connection with the people he wants to help has questions rising about him, and whether this puritanical and asexual/platonic approach to therapeutic recovery is all what it is promoted as.

DVDFr - Journal intime d'une nymphomane : le test complet du Blu-ray

While Jacqueline Laurent’s character of Rosa is a key figure into finding out why Linda killed herself and framed Rosa’s husband, there’s really not much to her. Franco seemed to have included her as a means of other characters to relate Linda’s story to a witness who would then have to decide what to do with the knowledge they have received. Rosa’s one point of interest in that she’s an all right woman who somehow ended up in a bad marriage who ends up learning many a sad truth not only about her husband and Linda, but something about herself.

Le journal intime d'une nymphomane (1973) смотреть онлайн

The film doesn’t present exploitation sex and sensuality in any kind of fun light here, and the characters are often very broken and misleading people who may be genuine, but can change in a heartbeat. Franco’s attempt at a cautionary tale against perverts and how to redeem oneself in the wake of bad experiences is very effective and shows what Franco was capable of doing when he had the freedom to be creative and do what he wanted to do.

(This is a film I would only recommend to serious film buffs who wanted to expand their horizons, or to people who aren’t offended by nudity and can see past the exploitative nature of the work. Jess Franco was certainly a maverick in his own way, and shows here he was not afraid to tackle the darker issues of what normal exploitation features tended to glamorize and play for laughs. Montserrat Prous plays a very broken woman here, and takes that broken nature to the point of where the viewer can’t tell is she wants to be redeemed and is always foiled somehow, or if she’s simply self-destructive and wanting to engage in a self-fulling prophesy in bad things always happening to her family. While the IMDB lists the film as R rated, I personally give it an NC-17 due to the abundant nudity, the frank depiction of aimless sexual escapades, and the very sexually explicit dialogue from the Linda character. The French company Le Chat Qui Fume (The Cat Who Smokes) did a very fine job in resurrecting one of Franco’s more obscure efforts with a fine restoration and audio clean-up. The disc is region free and is English friendly in both an dub track and translated subtitles for the original French audio. While having a couple special features, Only the interview with actress Jacqueline Laurent is English subtitle friendly, but that’s OK, as she gives an abundant amount of info on the film, and her relationship with Franco.)

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The Complete Tolstoy

by Tony Nash

(A Part of the Epics)

(Mild Spoilers)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Author’s Note: Mild discussion will be on the Soviet Government’s treatment of Director Sergey Bondarchuk upon the film’s release in this review. It would be difficult not to discuss the Propaganda surrounding the film’s approval as film-making in Russia at the time was more about spreading their “superiority” to everywhere else. Let me say in no uncertain terms this is NOT about politics, ONLY the Historic elements, so please enjoy the review for its merit on recounting the beauty and history of the film, and not other reasons please.)

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Война и мир (Voyna i Mir/War and Peace/War & Peace) (1966) PG-13 *****

Sergey Bondarchuk: Count Pierre Bezukhov

Lyudmila Saleva: Countess Natasha Rostova

Vyacheslav Tikhonov: Prince Andrei Bolkonsky

Boris Zakhava: Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov

Anatoly Klorov: Prince Nikolai Andreevich Bolkonsky

Antonina Shuranova: Princess Maria Bolkonskya

Oleg Tobakov: Nikolai Rostov

Viktor Stanitsyn: Ilya Andreyevich Rostov

Irina Skobtseva: Helene Bezukhova

Kira Golovko: Natalya Rostov

Vasily Lanovoy: Anatol Kuragin

Anastasiya Vertinskaya: Princess Lisa Bolkonskya

Vladislav Strzhelchik: Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte

Written by: Sergey Bondarchuk & Vasiliy Solovyov, based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy (as Lev Tolstoy)

Directed by: Sergey Bondarchuk

Synopsis: An Epic account of the Napoleonic Wars and the lives of two families, one of an illegitimate Count and the other a soldier Prince.

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In 1966, while Russia was still in the heavy grip of Fascism/Socialism, filmmaker Sergey Bondarchuk was able to successfully adapt Leo Tolstoy’s epic novel of the Napoleonic Wars to the big screen. While filmed as one whole piece the film, due to its near eight-hour length, was split into four parts and released in the course of a year and a half. Bondarchuk’s visionary imagination told the tale in intertwined and connected parts, going from love story to the story of war seamlessly. Two friends, Pierre and Andrei, experiences the highs and lows of life, the impact the wars started by Napoleon and others have on them, and how the constantly changing social and political climates mold and unmold not only them, but everyone around them. While at times hard to understand, Bondarchuk How the war affects the two friends and their respective families is what ties the unique imagery and stories together, making it a cohesive whole.

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While Russia’s Socialist Soviet ideals of the times had to be adhered to in regards to film, literature, and art, director Bondarchuk was able to appease the Propaganda people and to make the film so countries outside the Soviet Bloc could appreciate and understand the film. Tolstoy’s novel was more about the ever changing ideals and beliefs of the aristocracy and nobility as Russia goes through the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812, sometimes becoming more humane and losing the arrogance of their class, other times losing their humanity completely to the point  where they just go through the motions of life, losing everything. When Bondachuk and his cowriter decided to stick strictly to Tolstoy’s text and the historical sources the famed author researched when writing the book there was fear the Soviet government would turn the project down as anything regarding the Czarist age of the country was banned and criminalized. Bondarchuk may have been totally aware of this hypocrisy regarding Government activities, but his knowledge of the Russian youths praising of Tolstoy and his writings, would prevent the authorities from saying no to the film. Publicily the film was green-lit because of Bondarchuk’s assurance the film would depict a unified Russia, all classes working together in spite of corcumstaces, defending the motherland  against the forces of Napoleon.

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Image result for bondarchuk's war and peace"

Image result for bondarchuk's war and peace"

Image result for bondarchuk's war and peace"

Director Sergey Bondarchuk plays the lead of Pierre Bezukhov, a noble of illegitimate birth who only gains acceptance by his family when his dying father wishes so. His journey is the most difficult of the novel/film as he tries to maintain the status quo and dignity a man of his birth should have, but at the same time can’t help but feel the weight of change as the Russian Empire is besieged by invaders and the culture radically changing to conform to the new way of life across the ocean. Having led something of a decadent life across the ocean while in a self-imposed exile, Pierre is fully knowledgeable of the ways of Western Europe and is uncertain of how the commoners and peasants will react to the new way of life sweeping throughout the lands surrounding Russia and erasing the culture laid out by the nobles. He is joined by equally talented performers like Lyudmila Saleva, Vyacheslav Tikhonov, and Boris Zakhava who all must go through similar journeys, experiencing the highs and lows, loves and hates, and the certainty and uncertainty of the times shall bring them. Some will be able to survive and find new meaning in the new world while others will either be crushed completely by the changing tides, or survive only to live the remainder of their days as an outsider looking in, not fully separated from the world they once knew, but have nothing binding them to it. Actor Tikhonov embodies the latter of this perfectly as he knows the world he and his father knew is now in the past, but the will to live is too strong for him to deliberately try to end his own life, instead hoping joining the army will take care of such a dilemma for him.

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Like with any great film, War and Peace had its share of problems. Bondarchuk himself suffered two heart attacks midway through production, forcing halts to filming and editing as he recovered, the stress of keeping the film on time, on budget, and meeting the criteria he himself expected of it finally becoming too much. Inclement weather was a constant issue during location shooting, sometimes lasting days, but had the benefit of adding to the beauty of the lush forests and fields chosen to host the battle scenes. When the film won an Oscar at the Academy Awards, a Golden Globe, A National Board of Review and New York Critics’ Awards, and getting a British Academy nomination, what should’ve been a crowning achievement for Bondarchuk turned into a nightmare when the Soviets began intimidating him, angered the film had impressed America and Western Europe. Fearing for his life and career, Bondarchuk caved in and joined the Communist Party in 1970, which he later regretted as it harmed his international reputation and inspired false beliefs that he was the poster child for Soviet filmmaking. Like with anything else, time healed these wounds and now Bondarchuk is recognized as the artist he truly was.

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Grand scale in every sense of the term, War & Peace combined beautiful artistic imagery and storytelling to make the most faithful adaptation of any work of literature in the history of cinema. While plagued with the hazards any film shoot and under the constant surveillance of untrustworthy government people, Bondarshuk, his actors, and his crew created a masterpiece that has stood the test of time and is seen as one of the greatest films ever made.

(A highly recommend giving this all time classic a viewing, even if only once due to its massive running time of just a little over 7 hours. While its creation and release caused issues for the careers and lives of most of the people involved, the problems of the period the film was made in faded into the past and Bondarchuk’s impressive vision of what he wanted the film to be is now able to be seen in that intended life. I really can’t add too much to I’m sure others have already said about it. The Criterion Collection Blu Ray of the film is magnificent, the picture and audio quality amazing, crisp, and clear, and always including a good amount of extras including interviews with some of the surviving cast and crew.)

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The (Genuine) First Masterpiece

by Tony Nash

(The Long Epic Mini-Series Part 1)

(Mild Spoilers)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

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Napoleon (Napoleon vu par Abel Gance/Abel Gance’s Napoleon) (1927) ***** PG

Albert Dieudonne: Lt./Capt./Gen. Napoleon Bonaparte

Gina Manes: Josephine de Beauharnis/Josephine Bonaparte

Edmond Van Daele: Maximilien Robespierre

Alexandre Koubitzky: Georges-Jacques Danton

Abel Gance: Louis Saint-Just

Antonin Artaud: Jean-Paul Marat

Nicolas Koline: Tristan Fleuri

Annabella: Violine Fleuri/Desiree Clary

Pierre Batcheff: Gen. Lazare Hoche

Acho Chakatouny: Pozzo di Borgo

Max Maxudian: Barras (as Maxudian)

Philippe Heriat: Antonio Salicetti

Marguerite Gance: Charlotte Corday

Vladimir Roudenko: Young Napoleon Bonaparte

Written & Directed by: Abel Gance

Synopsis: The life of Napoleon Bonaparte chronicled from his education at Bienne College to his major role in the French Revolution to his romance with Josephine de Beauharnis to his conquest of Italy.

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A little over a decade after D.W. Griffith shocked and disgusted the world with his Birth of a Nation, Abel Gance gave dignity back to the Epic and the War Epic with a grand scale take on the early days of Napoleon Bonaparte. Set before his time as Emperor and Tyrant, Gance’s biopic looks at Napoleon as he fights for respect in both boyhood and manhood, his ups and downs as he rises through both the Corsican and French Armies, how he met and fell in love with Josephine, and how he became a hero to the people of France. How Gance imitated Griffith in camera technique and editing was the use of experimental angles, hand-held shooting, pre to early Eisenstein Montage, and allegory via the use of tinting and images, but how he differed was his respect he showed to the various people involved. While the masses were shown living in squalor, Gance never showed them in derogatory lights, the same with the upper crust slowly being replaced, again never showing them in an offensive light.  Mixing both Historical sources and conjecture from various biographies and textbooks, Gance paints a very intriguing and exciting tale of a man before absolute power corrupted him and how it landed him an infamous place in history.

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Image result for abel gance napoleon

Albert Dieudonne, a French actor turned Historian, gives a powerhouse performance as Napoleon himself. Interestingly enough, Dieudonne would briefly be hospitalized in a Mental Institution when he became so absorbed in playing the part of the infamous Military Emperor that he came to believe he was Napoleon. Dieudonne really is the perfect embodiment of Napoleon, almost perfectly capturing his charisma, personality, his genius as a military tactician, and his occasional romantic and loving side. Dieudonne does go a little into the melodramatic side in trying to convey Napoleon’s attitude regarding the Revolution as his Destiny, but he sticks to the historic texts and research into who Napoleon really was and brings the man to life in an extraordinary way. His most tender moments are with his family, and his early courting of his wife Josephine, showing Napoleon had a humane side, and even was once like many other people. Vladimir Roudenko, a one-time young actor of Russian and French origins, does an equally good job in showing off Napoleon as a child. Tormented because of his Corsican heritage and seen as half-savage, the young Napoleon is forced to work extra had to prove himself as a capable student, military man, showing even at a young age, the ambition and determination he set for himself.

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Gina Manes, a somewhat forgotten French actress, does an excellent job as Napoleon’s girlfriend and wife Josephine. Manes is very faithful to the real-life Josephine, portraying her as a genuinely decent, but very worldly woman. Having had several lovers before, and after her first marriage, Josephine was a woman who enjoyed the good life, but also dearly loved the children from her first marriage, and is shown as heartbroken being separated from them when she’s jailed with the other royals. Josephine’s first husband, who was the one that abandoned the family, offered his life in exchange for hers, though more as an act gallantry in the face of the revolting people, though she was a fine mother to their children. She too sees her life with Napoleon as Destiny as she was told by a Gypsy fortuneteller that her future included becoming the Queen. While wanting to have the best for herself and her children, she does have a genuine affection for Napoleon, though probably not to the same degree as he for her, though it is this romance that helps Napoleon with his success.

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French character actors Edmond Van Daele, Alexandre Koubitzky, and Antonin Artaud portray the three heralders of the French Revolution as Robespierre, Danton, and Marat respectively. Robespierre is the practical, straight to the point type, Danton loves giving speeches and inspiring hope in the people to support the Revolution, and Marat is the philosopher bringing sanity and reasoning to the cause. While all three men are for the Revolution, their ideologies regarding it will soon have them quarreling and at each other’s throats regarding who has the right way of doing things. Marat becomes the Revolution’s martyr when he’s murdered by a Royalist sympathizer, but Danton and Robespierre turn on each other, Robespierre having Danton executed as a failure and traitor to the cause. Robespierre gets his comeuppance when he begins turning into a tyrant, executing people at will because they don’t agree with his ideas.

(Author’s Note: Actor Artaud beautifully recreates the famous painting depicting how Marat was found after being killed.)

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Image result for abel gance napoleon marat

Director Gance and his wife Marguerite also play small, but pivotal roles in the film, as Louis Saint-Just and Charlotte Corday respectively. Saint-Just is the fourth head man of the Revolution and, like Robespierre, loses sight of what the Revolution is about, and turns into a tyrant along with Robespierre, and is also denounced and executed with his comrade. Charlotte Corday got into the history books as being the murderess of Marat, feeling she was helping the Royalists in her actions, but was caught and executed for her crime Ironically the revolutionaries would have Corday to thank as she, like Marat being a martyr, helped bring the Revolution to its earliest fruition.

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Like many great films, Gance’s Napoleon also had its problem. The original producer, Giuseppe Barattolo, was forced to exit production when the Italian film industry was hit with its first financial crisis, leaving the production without money or a way to continue. Star Dieudonne had to enter a mental hospital when, midway through filming, Napoleon’s larger than life personality and ego overwhelmed him and led the actor to believe he was the man himself (as stated in Dieudonne’s section), again production having to halt so he could get well. Many of the technical aspects, while completed and successful, had Gance in argument with some of his crew and the new producers due to budget constraints and time. Money was the key issue, as producers were coming and going, always worrying Gance’s vision wouldn’t give them a profit or be fully realized. The financial strain eventually became too much, and even when the film proved to be a success, Gance made the decision to burn more than a dozen canisters of unedited footage, depriving both viewers and historians of what else he had accomplished with the film.

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While plagued with behind the scenes problems, and the loss of much footage, Gance’s take on the life of Napoleon is still spectacular to behold. Gance’s meticulousness in shooting and how his actors were in front of the camera was a testament to how historically accurate he tried to be in telling the true story of a man. His inventive use of camera movements and angles, the first experiment with the widescreen process would become early staples of what the film industry would expand upon and use to this day, proving that film could be both a form of entertainment, and a form of art.

(Not only is this a film that I highly recommend to film fans to check out, this is a must film for any fan of cinema to see at least once in his or her life. Everything about this film is so amazing, from the performances, especially that of Albert Dieudonne, to the amazing experimental cinematography and camera angles, to the amazing use of locations. That Gance also tried to be as faithful to history as he could is also amazing, as both lovers of cinema and lovers of history will find things to love about the film. The British Film Institute, in collaboration with the film’s restorer Kevin Brownlow, did a fantastic job in the reconstruction and restoration of this almost lost classic piece of Silent Cinema.  The image and sound are so crisp, it feels like the film could’ve been made in the last ten years. There are signs of age in some scenes as Brownlow spent thirty plus years looking all over the place for footage, some of which were in bad shape when he located and preserved them. This doesn’t take away from the film however, as the majority of it is pristine.  It’s well worth any film lovers time.)

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Tense Allegorical Thriller

by Tony Nash

(A Part of the Cycle of the Melodic Gialli)

(All opnions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(This review is of the original Italian language version)

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Le Orme (Footprints/Footprints on the Moon) (1975) PG-13 ****

Florinda Bolkan: Alice Campos/Nicole

Peter McEnery: Harry, the Carpenter Tourist

Nicoletta Elmi: Paola Bersel

Klaus Kinski: Professor Blackmann

Ida Gialli: Mary, the Analyst (as Evelyn Stewart)

Lila Kedrova: Iris Ines

John Karlsen: Alfredo Laurenti

Written by: Mario Fenelli & Luigi Bazzoni, based on Fenelli’s novel Las Huellas

Directed by: Luigi Bazzoni

Synopsis: A Portuguese woman living in Italy begins suffering memory lapses, resulting in her losing three days upon abruptly running from her job as a government translator. She reveals to a friend that when she was younger, she had seen a Horror Science Fiction film called Footprints on the Moon, about inhumane government experiments done on astronauts, which apparently heavily traumatized her. Deciding to take a vacation to clear her mind and rest, she chooses an island she noticed on a postcard, but soon realizes her nightmares are slowly becoming a reality.

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Luigi Bazzoni, in his final film as a director, offers up a complex and compelling psychological Thriller involving the mind. What begins as a standard Mystery about a woman’s search for answers upon learning she can’t remember the past three days of her life slowly turns into a journey into paranoia and uncertainty. People she’s certain she’s never seen before seem to know quite a bit about her, albeit her with a different name, and that she seemed determined to get away from people chasing her, and trying to find someone from years ago. Childhood trauma comes into play as the protagonist seems to equate everything to a movie she saw as a child in which cruel scientists subject unsuspecting astronauts to horrific experiments, leading both viewers and the protagonist herself to wonder if the movie had real life implications or if her mind is playing tricks on her. Soon, what the woman believes to be reality and fantasy begin to turn on its head, and she finally begins to worry something happened in those three days that were terrible and she, for one reason or the next, blocked it out of her mind.

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Florinda Bolkan, a Brazilian who became a star in Italy, is a surprising success in the lead role of Alice Campos, alias Nicole. An overworked translator for the Italian embassy, she starts having recurring nightmares about a Sci-Fi film she was terrified of as a child. This lack of sleep and the overuse of tranqulizers does little to help her, and apparently has made things worse in her life. When her superior at work informs her she missed three days after mysteriously just walking out of a session one day, she becomes determined to find out what happened. While she remembered feeling unusually flustered at work, and just leaving with witnesses looking at her, nothing else seems to connect. The tropical island of Garma somehow keeps popping up for Alice, she decides to take a vacation and find answers to what the paradise has to with her amnesia and dreams. When a girl she encounters claims she knew Alice under the name Nicole and that she was rambling about people chasing her, Alice becomes more frustrated and confused. When her dreams become more and more vivid and she suspects something far more sinister is afoot and she’s in real danger. What Alice also fears, but never explains in words, is that she might very well be losing her mind.

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Klaus Kinski, the equally famous and infamous German character actor, has a small, but important part as Dr. Blackmann. Appearing only in Alice’s dreams, Blackmann is the apparent antagonist of Footprints on the Moon, the film within the film. Blackmann is a scientist that has apparently no qualms or morals whatsoever when it comes to proving a theory regarding astronaut survival on the Moon should something happen that strands them there. This theory or the reasons behind it are never explained, other than that the test subjects should be surviving whatever it is they are left with on the planet. Each scene is only of Blackmann repeating the subject should be surviving, only to watch the man slowly suffocate and die, cursing the experiment should have been a success and to find another “Guinea Pig” to send up. This inhumanity is what terrified Alice the most as a child, hence why those moments appear to be the ones that most repeat in her nightmares and visions. How Alice connects Blackmann to herself is a case of paranoia and the ultimate fear that what happened in the film would happen in real life.

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Image result for le orme 1975

British actor Peter McEnery and Italian child actress Nicoletta Elmi play characters with positive connections to Alice. Each wants in their own way to help her, as they realize something troubles her, but at the same time become fearful for, and of, her as her rationality seems to constantly go from calm to erratic for little to no reason.

(Author’s Note: I can’t tell you too much about these characters as spoilers would be involved, and these moments give a lot to the revelation at the end.)

Image result for le orme 1975

Image result for le orme 1975

Both memorizing and frustrating, complex and simple, delirious and coherent, Le Orme is the most experimental of the Thriller Giallo ever made. While hard to understand at times, and the consistent red herrings and even some misleading dialogue from actors as to even get a hint of what Alice’s problem is, the film does pack a pretty good punch when the ending is reached, and everything truly comes into place and what audiences weren’t sure of before come clear.

(I do recommend giving this film a try, though I do forewarn the experience will go from the typical Mystery Thriller into an allegory of a person slowly going mad trying to find answers to questions they’re not even sure they want to know. This isn’t to say the film isn’t any good, it’s really well made and Bazzoni truly keeps the secret a secret until the very end, but how the conclusions are reached can feel a little out of left field and unexpected, but it’s worth it in the end. Shameless Screen Entertainment/Shameless Films does a good job with the restoration and rebuilding of the film, and provides both the original Italian dub with subtitles and the English dub, scenes that were previously missing from prior releases available in Italian only.)

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Klaus Kinski as a Good Guy? …..Yes

by Tony Nash

(A Part of the Cycle of the Melodic Gialli)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(This review is of the original Italian language version)

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A Doppia Faccia (Double Face) (1969) R ****1/2


Klaus Kinski: John Alexander

Sydney Chaplin: Mr. Brown (as Sidney Chaplin)

Margaret Lee: Helen Brown-Alexander

Annabella Incontera: Liz, Helen’s Lover

Gunther Stoll: Ispettore Stevens

Luciano Spadoni: Ispettore Gordon

Christaine Kruger: Christine, the Fetish Artist

Gastone Pescucci: Peter, the Porno Director

Barbara Nelli: Alice, Secretary at Brown & Brown

Written by: Riccardo Freda (as Robert Hampton) & Paul Hengge, based on a story by Lucio Fulci, Romano Migliorini, & Gianbattista Mussetto, inspired by the novels of Edgar Wallace

Directed by: Riccardo Freda (as Robert Hampton)


Synopsis: Cold and double-crossing firm owner Helen Brown vanishes after naming her cuckhold husband John Alexander the solo heir to her fortune. Soon it becomes apparent someone is trying to drive him out of his mind. Is Helen dead or alive? Is she plotting with her lesbian lover to have it all, or are there others trying to make it look like John did it because she was unfaithful?

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Riccardo Freda, one of the many Jack-of-all-Trades filmmakers in Italy, tried his hand at the burgeoning Giallo genre that would take off a year later. At this stage, Giallos weren’t the smash successes in Italy current fans and historians thought they were, but they did see moderate success in Germany thanks to the public seeing seem as offshoots of their own mystery style films, the Krimi. These films were primarily made up of adaptations of the novels of British writer Edgar Wallace, and Freda and his co-writer Paul Hengge patterned the screenplay after a story collaboration of other writers, one of whom was Lucio Fulci in his early directorial stages, that was done in the Wallace style. The tricky and intricate plot of a man uncertain his shrewish wife has really died in a car accident and believes numerous unsavory characters, including some people he trusts, are trying to make him go mad thinking she’s setting him up as her killer is a story Wallace himself could’ve written as his stories were almost always centered around the death of a woman or a group of women.

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What makes this Wallace-esque Mystery film interesting is that some of the exterior scenes were shot in England. London’s night life and main entertainment district are shown in full swing in the film, numerous clubs, movie theaters, and restaurants getting their moments in the limelight. While in some scenes it can’t be certain Kinski was actually present in London during filming, that Freda had the budget to send a second unit out to the UK for the shots is pretty cool and a nice addition to get the British feel right.

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Klaus Kinski, a German actor who spent much of the 60’s and 70’s working in Italy is a surprise revelation in the role of John Alexander. Normally known for playing villainous psychopaths and all-around unlikable characters, does an unbelievably good job in the role of a victimized good guy. John is depicted as the typical British working-middle class man who lives a little better than most, but has no ambitions for the high life. He genuinely falls in love with his wife, and is completely baffled and hurt when she suddenly goes cold and loses the majority of her interest in him. Initially he puts up with her lesbian affair to a local stage actress, hoping she’s going through some sort of self-discovery journey, and is relieved when she announces she’s provided for him. When he learns her car crashed as she was going on an extended vacation, he gets continually questioned by the police. After driving a Hippie woman who managed to gain access to his home to escape bad weather to her club, she offers him a look at a nudie film she made, and believes his wife is in the film as well, hiding under a mask. Thinking some very bizarre people are in cahoots with his wife to drive him mad, or are using her against her will, John does his own investigating to prove he had no involvement in her “accident”.

(Author’s Note: The early to mid-60’s saw Kinski appearing in several of the Wallace Krimi films in Germany, usually as the villain or a henchman of the villain, hence why he was casted here.)

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A slew of character actors including Sydney Chaplin (son of silent film icon Charlie Chaplin), British expat Margaret Lee, German Gunther Stoll, and Italian Annabella Incontera,  help make up a set of rouges who may want to try to help Mr. Alexander, or are somehow a part of the conspiracy to make him look guilty and/or drive him insane. Lee’s brief appearance as the shrewish Helen is quite interesting as the character seems to have a kind of affection for her husband, but has for some reason fallen out of romantic love with him.  While not explicitly shown, there’s a heavy hint that an actress Helen constantly spends her time with, is in fact her lover, and has been fooling around with on her husband for some time, suggesting John is extremely jealous of his wife’s promiscuity, particularly in that she threw him over for a woman. The question throughout the entire film will be if Helen is dead or alive, and who she may or may not be conspiring with against her husband, that will become more complicated as the film progresses, leaving everyone uncertain of what’s going on.

(Author’s note: due to the ending being very intricate, not can be said for most of the characters as it would spoil the surprise waiting for viewers when the revelation comes to light.)

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In a case of irony, the film actually bombed in Germany, leading to a brief pause of the Wallace films, fans likely seeing it as a poor imitation of the films already made and released since the late 50’s. While lacking some of the essentials of a Wallace or Agatha Christie story, the film actually did keep the mystery of what was really going on until the last few minutes fairly well hidden, even beginning with Kinski’s character being proven innocent and the story being done in flashback.

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Underrated upon its initial release, Doppia Faccia has secured a place as one of the better entertaining Giallos of the late 60’s period. While it doesn’t have anything too unique to make it a classic of the genre, it does keep the viewer in suspense and guessing as to what’s really going on, and uses the mystery aspect very well, making it both a minor classic and a cult classic style of film. Red herrings abound like crazy in the film and are always keeping the viewer on their toes about the real mastermind of the whole plot, which is key to the success of any mystery. Klaus Kinski, Margaret Lee, Sydney Chaplin, and the remainder of the cast do fine jobs in their respective roles, helping to add to the story at every turn and plot point.

( I highly recommend this  early Giallo effort from Freda as while it is a little too typical in terms of the British style of Mystery and offers little of the tropes associated with the genre, does an excellent job with the clues, false leads, and various herrings to keep the audience constantly guessing. Freda was fairly underrated during his lifetime and with the advent of home media is finally getting the recognition that seemed to constantly  allude him. Klaus Kinski is the biggest surprise of the whole thing, actually giving a convincing performance, of man who, while constantly frustrated by the choices he made in love and attitudes , is an otherwise good guy caught up in something truly diabolical. Arrow Video once again knocks this release out of the park, with fine audio and visual transfers with a nice bit of extras. Well worth checking out in my opinion.

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

A Madman With Depth

by Tony Nash

(Euro Witches & Madmen #6 and Finale)

(all opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild to No Spoilers)

(This review is of the French language version)

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Gritos en la Noche (l’Horrible Docteur Orloff/The Awful Dr. Orloff/Screams in the Night) (1962) ***** R

Conrado San Martin: Inspector Edgar Tanner

Diana Lorys: Wanda Bronsky/Melissa Orloff

Howard Vernon: Doctor Orloff

Venancio Muro: Jean “Jeannot” Rousseau

Perla Cristal: Arne

Mara Laso: Irma Gold

Ricardo Valle: Morpho Lodner

Fernando Montes: Malou (as Fernando C. Montes)

Maria Silva: Dany (as Mary Silvers)

Felix Dafauce: The Chief Inspector

Written & Directed by: Jesus Franco (story credit as David Khune)

Synopsis: Orloff, a once promising doctor, goes mad after his daughter is horribly scarred after an accident. Using an insane killer he re-animated from the dead as his henchman, Orloff begins kidnapping and killing young women for their skin to restore his daughter’s beauty. When the investigating inspector’s actress/dancer girlfriend senses she bears a resemblance to someone Orloff finds important, she secretly assumes the identity of a street wanderer to capture him.

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Docteur Orloff was the first successful film of Jess Franco before he turned to exploitation filmmaking. While he did some fairly standard genre cinema work already, and was noticed by some studios for his work as an assistant for his friend Orson Welles, this was Franco’s first opportunity to tell a story his own way. Inspired by Georges Franju’s seminal entry in the Euro Horror genre Les Yuex Sans Visage (Eyes Without a Face), a controversial film in its own right for one of the earliest realistic looking face surgery gore scenes, Franco concocts his own interpretation of a doctor so driven by desperation to save his daughter that he forgoes rationality and humanity in order to complete his task. Franco doesn’t go to the same extremes as Franju at this period of his career, but his usage of contrasting light and shadow gives of the same uneasiness as Franju’s original. Mixing Murder Mystery, Police Procedural, Horror, and a little Science Fiction, Franco shows in his earliest major studio film effort that he was a talent that could go far if given the time, patience, and chances.

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What easily sets this apart as Franco’s earliest efforts as an auteur is the lack of hallucinatory imagery and all-around bizarreness that make up a Franco film. It’s very from the start that Franco was still getting his feet wet as a filmmaker and was still finding his style and flare. Elements like beautiful women, spontaneous nudity, sexually aggressive maniacs, and mad geniuses are already in place, but not to the degree that would become Franco’s eventual trademark.

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Howard Vernon, who became one of Franco’s favorite regular actors, gives one of his finest performances in the role of Dr. Orloff himself. What makes this incarnation of Orloff different and memorable is that he’s not entirely an evil villain. He was once a fairly dedicated doctor trying to help inmates reform at the many prisons he worked in. When a tragic accident in his lab resulted in his beautiful daughter being scarred for life, Orloff goes out of his mind with grief and dispair, leading him to commit horrid acts of violence to save her. At first he only goes after prostitutes believing no one would really miss them, but when one of the victims turns out to be a singer trying to care for her ailing mother that he goes too far and the police soon on his tail. That he has moments of regret and remorse shows he could possibly be redeemed, but because he presses forward, even the woman he loves can’t convince him his daughter can never be who she was.

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Conrado San Martin & Diana Lorys, two of Spain and Mexico’s finest in B film leads and character parts elsewhere, do fine jobs in their respective roles of Tanner and Wanda. Tanner for the most part is the generic cop hero, but hasn’t let the hurdles with the job get his spirits too down. When he meets the beautiful actress/dancer Wanda, his resolve to be a good detective heightens and goes into his new case with the utmost determination. Wanda is a highly intelligent performer, very rare for the period, and uses her talents in helping her fiancé the cop go after the killer. Diana Lorys became the first example of Franco’s independent free thinking woman, as smart as she was pretty..

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While still on a low budget scale, Franco had the kind of liberty and creative freedom he wanted and was able to film the way he saw the project looking. Having a cast of noted actors at his disposal in his early career also helped the film along, showing it wasn’t amateur by any means, that the creators could do a good project. Franco’s friends at Eurocine would keep a working relationship with the man going for over twenty years, and while his results to them were a mixed bag, he always delivered when they asked him to.

(This film, along with Docteur Z, are the two Franco films people will want to start with if they’re unsure of checking him out. While lacking a good bit of the trademark styles Franco is noted for, fans can still find stuff to enjoy, and will see Franco experiment with the styles that would later play major roles in his work. The Blu Ray from Redemption Films in conjunction with Kino is very good, though the negative has some noticeable damage that couldn’t be fixed. This in no way hinders the enjoyment of the film and actually gives it a classic feel of a theater revival or drive-in experience. Overall the film is a must in quality and extras.)

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