Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sidney Qualifying for Coproduction Subsidies

Crista Linder in THE TALL WOMEN.

My Life As An Independent Film Producer
by Sidney Pink

With coproduction companies in two countries ready to go, our next step was to comply with the government regulations in order to participate in their subsidy programs. For THE TALL WOMEN to qualify as an Italian film, we needed either an Italian director or cameraman plus two Italian featured players and an Italian lab. I hired a prize-winning cameraman, Marcello Gatti, and two Italian actresses whom I auditioned and cast in Rome. I selected Rosella Como, an experienced professional who added luster for Italian distribution. Rosella had done some fine work and was well-known in that country. For the second actress, I cast a young well-endowed Italian beauty, Adrianna Ambezzi. Well-endowed was an understatement of her physical attributes; she was a young, more beautiful Sophia Loren, and she fit her part as though it had been written for her.
Our last task was to select a laboratory, and although I had never conceived of a laboratory that would take part in any crooked schemes, I found one in my selection of Techno-Stampa Labs. I was really interested in Technicolor, Roma, but that lab was still using the process of tri-colored matrices, a much more expensive and complicated process that did not fit our budgets. I later learned the folly of trusting a local lab. In any event, we arranged for our Italian print financing with Techno-Stampa, and I returned to Madrid for final casting and principal photography.
Only four parts remained to be cast, and I needed at least three top-quality actresses for the demanding roles that were left. Hoping for a German coproduction, I called Artur Brauner in Germany, who informed me Maria Perschy (a popular German star) was in Spain at the time. Her beauty and talent brought her to the attention of Paramount Studios, who brought her to the states, polished her English, and then miscast her. Disgusted, she gave up her American contract to return to Europe. We contacted her in Torremolinos. She liked the script and was delighted to have the opportunity of working with Anne Baxter.
I was able to get two fine Spanish actresses for two other major roles. Perla Cristal, intelligent and quite beautiful in a very earthy way, became my favorite Spanish actress and appeared in many of the films we made there. Another major role required a performance of Bette Davis quality, so we selected Maria Mahor, a stage actress. The last principal role was filled by a young German star of X-rated films, Crista Linder. It was strange, but this little tart gave the part an innocent, waiflike flavor it needed.
That left only three secondary roles, all for men. For the leading man, who would supply the hint of a romance with Anne Baxter, I selected my mainstay Spanish actor, Gustavo Rojo. He spoke perfect English and had been under contract to MGM for several years where he was being groomed for stardom. I never found out what happened and I never asked him why he left such a promising career, but I was lucky he did. Gustavo Rojo was as handsome as any leading man in the world, and he was a consummate and polished actor. He appeared in almost every movie I produced in Spain.
For the part of the friendly Indian chief, I cast Fernando Hilbeck (of PYRO), and as the vicious Indian, I selected one of Spain's best villains, Luis Prendes (whom I also relied on for many other films, although he spoke no English). He played many villains for me, but then again, when I gave him a sympathetic role in THE CHRISTMAS KID, he played the hell out of it.

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