Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Jean-Pierre Melville on Gian Maria Volonte

Edited by Rui Nogueira

Jean-Pierre Melville: The billion [francs] for LE CERCLE ROUGE was possible because I had Delon, Bourvil and Montand, and because there was a sizeable Italian coproduction interest since I was using an Italian actor Gian Maria Volonte - totally unknown in France, I might add - whom I had in mind to play Vogel after seeing him in Carlo Lizzani's BANDITI A MILANO.
But, if you want me to talk about Gian Maria Volonte, that's a very different story. Because Gian Maria Volonte is an instinctive actor, and he may well be a great stage actor in Italy, he may even be a great Shakespearean actor, but for me he was absolutely impossible in that on a French set, in a film such as I was making, he never at any moment made me feel I was dealing with a professional. He didn't know how to place himself for the lighting - he didn't understand that an inch to the left or to the right wasn't at all the same thing. 'Look at Delon, look at Montand,' I used to tell him, 'see how they position themselves perfectly for the lights, etc, etc.' I also think the fact that he is very involved in politics (he's a Leftist, as he never tires of telling you) did nothing to bring us together. He was very proud of having gone to sit-in at the Odeon during the 'glorious' days of May-June 1968; personally, I did not go to sit-in at the Odeon. It seems, too, that whatever he had a week-end free he flew to Italy to spend it there in what I would call a super-nationalist spirit. I once said to him, 'It's no use dreaming of becoming an international star so long as you continue to pride yourself on being Italian - which is of no consequence, any more than being French is.' But for him everything Italian was marvellous and wonderful, and everything French was ridiculous. I remember one day we were setting up a back-projection scene and he was smiling to himself. I asked him why, and he said, 'Because... you've seen BANDITI A MILANO? There are no back projections in BANDITI A MILANO. Everything was shot directly from a car.' 'Really,' I said, 'And did you have night scenes like this? You were inside a car filming the action going on outside at night?' 'Well, no,' he said, and it seemed to sink in that we weren't using back projection just to amuse him. He's a strange character. Very wearying. I promise you I won't be making any more films with Gian Maria Volonte.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Jayne ridicules herself out of the business.

by James Bacon

I was in on the birth of the most publicity-minded of all Hollywood personalities - the late Jayne Mansfield. I was even responsible for getting her started.
I was sitting all alone at my desk in the AP office on a day before Christmas in the early fifties. All of a sudden, I felt a warm kiss on the back of my neck. It felt strange in the all-male newsroom.
Looking up, I gazed on a beautiful young blonde, twenty-one at most, with the most beautiful pair of breasts I had ever seen. They were falling out of her low-cut dress. Then she bent over and gave me a warm kiss on the lips. I kept my eyes open because I couldn't take them off those gorgeous breasts.
"Here's a present from Jim Byron," she said, and wiggled out the door.
Byron was an old friend, the press agent for Ciro's nightclub on the Sunset Strip. I called him immediately and asked who in thehell that girl was.
"Would you believe," said Jim,"this girl walked in my office off the Strip and said she was a coed at UCLA and wanted to be a movie star. I had your present on my desk so I told her to deliver it to you and I'd get your reaction. What can I do with her?"
I had on my desk at the time an airplane ticket to Silver Springs, Florida, where RKO was about to premiere a new Jane Russell movie called UNDERWATER. I couldn't make the trip and told Byron I would call Nat James at RKO and also Howard Hughes, who owned the studio and who was a great tit man.
If they agreed, Jayne could take my seat on the flight. I called Howard first. He was much easier to get on the phone in those days. After I described Jayne, he agreed on the spot.
As a matter of formality, I called Nat, the publicity man in charge of the junket, and told him what Hughes had said.
Jayne was on the flight. The other girls who went along were Debbie Reynolds, Mala Powers, and Lori Nelson, all beautiful but none with the assets that Jayne had.
Jane Russell, the star of the picture, was delayed a few days in New York. She couldn't have cared less for cheesecake shots at this stage of her career.
So, for the photographers, Jayne had a wide-open field and she handled it like O.J. Simpson. She wore a bikini that was twenty years ahead of its time and when all the photographers were focused, a strap conveniently broke. And before long, the magazines and newspapers were filled with pictures of Jayne Mansfield, a new international star who had yet to be even interviewed for a movie. Unfortunately for Jayne, that heady debut caused her to eventually ridicule herself out of the business.
I first noticed this happening at the famous reception for Sophia Loren when the glamorous Italian star made her first visit to this country. Sophia, full-bosomed, presented a threat to Jayne. Naturally, the photographers all wanted to get shots of the sexy Italian import. This infuriated Jayne, who acted as one possessed.
Every time the photographers shot the seated Sophia at her table at Romanoff's, Jayne would rush over and lean over her with her big breasts almost drooping on Sophia's shoulder. It resulted in one of the most remarkable pictures ever taken, with Sophia peering down into Jayne's hugh mammaries.
Toward the end of her tragic life, Jayne could get little work but opening supermarkets and shopping centers. But she was no dummy; her fee was never less than $5,000 a shot.
I was very fond of Jayne because, basically, she was a lovable girl. Often I would try to advise her but she would never listen.
She had a talent to make it big even without publicity, but you could never make her believe it. Only thing I ever talked her out of was when she decorated her big honeymoon mansion on Sunset Boulevard. She wanted everything heart-shaped - the bed, the bathtubs, lighting fixtures, even the toilet seats.
I told her the toilet seats wouldn't work.
"Why?" she pouted.
"Because you haven't got a heart-shaped ass," I said.
All the toilet seats remained oval.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A birth certificate for Anthony Quinn

by James Bacon

Tony Quinn the Irishman

Somehow you don't think of Anthony Quinn as half-Irish, even though Quinn is his real name. But he is.
Amazingly, Tony has more believers in Ireland than he does south of the border.
"I once went over to Cork to visit my grandfather's birthplace and I was received royally as an Irishman. I also found out I looked Irish. There's lots of Irishmen who look like me."
There's a historic reason for that. When the English fleet sunk the Spanish Armada back in the time of Queen Elizabeth, the Spanish sailors who escaped to the Irish shore were hid by the Catholic Irish. Eventually they married the Celtic colleens and that's why you have Spanish-sounding names in the West of Ireland (Costello is a prime example). It's also the origin of the term Black Irish.
In Mexico, the land of his birth, Tony always got the pocho treatment, the derogatory term for Mexicans who are gringoized.
"When I made a picture down in Durango, the people accused me ot being born in America - and called me a phony Mexican. Finally, the governor of Chihuahua happened to visit the set. He said he always admired me on the screen and asked if there was anything he could do for me.
"I said: 'Yes, for God's sake, get me a birth certificate.' I was born in Chihuahua during the Revolution and no one had time for recording births in those days.
"The governor went back home and talked with people who remembered my Mexican mother and my Irish father and when I was born.
"So, at age fifty-one, I was issued a birth certificate. If he hadn't gotten it for me, I know I could have gotten one in Cork that would have made me Irish."
Tony is the hardest-working actor I know. He's always working, so much so that he often is in competition with himself on the screen. He's also one of the best. He holds the record of winning an Oscar for the smallest role - little more than a big part. In LUST FOR LIFE, the story of Vincent Van Gogh, Tony was only on the screen for seven minutes, but he made that brief stint pay off with an Academy Award for best supporting actor.
No one gets deeper in the part than Tony. We have been friends for thirty years, but when I visited him in Rome during SHOES OF THE FISHERMAN, in which he played the Pope, he kept calling me "My son," even in his dressing room.
I'll never forget the first day I walked on that set at Cinecitta studios outside Rome. It was a replica of the Pope's balcony in the Vatican and Tony was imparting a pontifical blessing on the imaginary throng below in St. Peter's piazza.
Except for one thing - the people below were Italian grips and studio laborers on the soundstage. Tony was so convincing that the devout among them were crossing themselves, forgetting they were looking at a Mexican-Irish actor and not Pope John.
Few people know that Tony was a special protege of John Barrymore in that great actor's last days in Hollywood. Tony was so impressed with Barrymore that he once tried to match him drink for drink one night.
If you think that the Barrymore-Quinn relationship is something dreamed up by me, read Gene Fowler's classic THE MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING and you'll find Tony's name in there with Barrymore, W.C. Fields, and the rest.
"I was only nineteen at the time and I survived because of my youth," says Tony.
Despite Barrymore's keen perception of Tony's talent, he played mostly Indians or Latin gigolos in his early days. Even the fact that he was Cecil B. DeMille's son-in-law then didn't help matters much. C.B. cast him as an Indian in THE PLAINSMAN.
Tony was bursting with pride and ambition in those days. One day on location during the lunch break, C.B. invited his son-in-law to lunch with him privately in the great director's tent.
The next day, a columnist wrote: "Anthony Quinn is too big to eat with the other actors on the location of THE PLAINSMAN, he eats his meals with C.B. DeMille himself."
For some strange reason this item upset Tony enormously. He began avoiding DeMille and eventually it led to an estrangement between the actor and his father-in-law.
Worse, in the early days of television, during the heyday of Hopalong Cassidy and Davy Crockett, Tony was offered a $1 million dollar contract to do an Indian series on TV. He could have used the money but he turned it down.
"The sons of bitches wanted me to play a Mohawk and keep my head permanently shaved, Mohawk-style. Worse, the contract stipulated that I could never appear in public unless me, my wife, and children appeared as the last of the Mohicans."
That offer, from a breakfast cereal company, drove Tony to Europe, where he became one of the all-time great actors.
Tony is the only person I know who has his footprints in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese theater - the same theater where once he was turned down for a job as usher.
"The guy who was hiring ushers said I looked too Mexican to work in a Chinese theater."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ealing Studios attempted to kill Alec Guinness

by Alec Guinness

Monday 6 May (1996)
THE LAVENDER HILL MOB is being shown on TV this evening but I won't be watching it. (If only I had received 1 [pound] each time one of the Ealing comedies was shown I would be a rich man. My contract didn't cover mechanical reproduction.) It was a good film, I think; well over forty years old now and mercifully it only lasted an hour and a half. Stanley Holloway and I got on exceedingly well and became good friends. He was always genial, easy-going and meticulously professional.
Ealing Studios never succeeded in killing me in spite of some quite good tries, the first of which was during the making of LAVENDER HILL. Rehearsing a brief scene in which Stanley and I were required to escape from the top of the Eiffel Tower, the director (Charles Crichton) said, 'Alec, there is a trap door over there - where it says Workmen Only - I'd like you to run to it, open it and start running down the spiral staircase. Stanley will follow.' So I did as asked. A very dizzying sight to the ground greeted me. But I completed half a spiral before I noticed that three feet in front of me the steps suddenly ceased - broken off. I sat down promptly where I was and cautiously started to shift myself back to the top, warning Stanley to get out of the way.
'What the hell are you doing?' the director yelled. 'Down! Further down!'
'Further down is eternity,' I called back.
Stanley and I regained the panoramic view of Paris pale and shaking. No one had checked up on the staircase and no one apologized; that wasn't Ealing policy.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Showering in Almeria

by Alec Guinness

Monday 19 February (1996)
This morning Matthew telephoned, having just got back from his skiing holiday in Bulgaria. He seems to have enjoyed it but found the meals fairly grim. He said his chalet was pleasant enough but he was puzzled by the showerbath, the floor of which was slanted so that water didn't go down the plug but sloshed into the bathroom. It sounds to me as if the Bulgarians have picked up a few tips from the Spanish. Tony Quayle and I, when filming LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, rented a wretched little guncrack house in Almeria for a few weeks. The only way of making the shower work was to sit on the loo, and the only chance of flushing the loo was to turn on the hot tap in the shower. The view from the front of the house was of mangy dogs rutting on a rubbish dump. I am told Almeria has greatly improved in recent years but I'm not going back.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Alec Guinness on David Lean's Memorial Service

by Alec Guinness

The last time I was at St. Paul's was for David Lean's memorial service, which was a big production number, with a military band outside on the steps playing 'Colonel Bogey', as used in the film of THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI. Inside it was film star studded, at least under the dome. I don't think people at the back were totally aware of what was going on or why. Compromise is my middle name so I sat myself between the two groups. Melvyn Bragg gave an admirable address, beautifully spoken; he managed to get in a snide remark of David's about me which caused a few discreet titters. The titterers were sitting, of course, directly under the Whispering Gallery. 'Titter you not!' as Frankie Howard used to say. I had to balance my thoughts as best I could, pushing aside my bad recollections of David's extreme unpleasantness in latter years but remembering the enchanting, affable, exciting man he was in the days of making GREAT EXPECTATIONS and OLIVER TWIST. He could still switch on the charm even in his last years but I had grown mistrustful of it. We each did our best, I think, to repair our damaged friendship but it didn't really work out. I needed someone with whom I could laugh (not David's strongest point) and he depended so much, it seemed to me, on sycophants. But he was marvellously generous with his riches. The car left St. Paul's behind in the failing light. I wished David eternal happiness, as I have always done since the day he died.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Is the long version of GLI INTOCCABILI lost forever?

John Cassavetes brutalizes Britt Ekland in a scene missing from the U.S. version of MACHINE GUN MCCAIN.

From: Mary S. Roberts via email
Since Blue Underground has released MACHINE GUN MCCAIN in a version that William Lustig claims is the official edit, and that a longer cut never existed - per director Montaldo himself - why don't you offer a detailed account of the cut you viewed all those years ago.

It was probably in 1970 that I saw GLI INTOCABILI (aka THE UNTOUCHABLES) at the Kokuwaikan movie theater on Kokusai Street in Naha, Okinawa. The soundtrack was in Italian, the print had Japanese subtitles and it was about two hours long. I didn't speak Italian and couldn't read Japanese, but the plotting of the film wasn't too complicated and it was pretty easy to figure things out. The camerawork by Erico Menczer, the staging by director Giuliano Montaldo, an attractive cast which included some Italian Western veterans and an exciting music score by Ennio Morricone combined to make this movie a favorite of mine. During its run on the off-base theatrical circuit, I saw the film five or six times.
A while later, I came across a paperback book at the Fort Buckner PX (Post Exchange; a kind of on-base department store) called CANDYLEG, which had been made into the movie MACHINE GUN MCCAIN. With artwork resembling John Cassavetes, I knew that this was the original source of GLI INTOCCABILI so I bought it. This was the first I knew that one of my favorite films had been picked up for U.S. release.
Some time after that, MACHINE GUN MCCAIN was listed to play the on-base theatrical circuit, and a while after that I rushed to the Fort Buckner Theater to see it.
From the start, I knew I was in trouble. The opening scene of a New York meeing of "The Organization" was shortened. I couldn't say precisely what was cut - because I had only seen it before in a language I didn't speak, but the fact that we didn't get Gabriele Ferzetti standing up and walking about the room was obvious. In the U.S. version, the scene opened with Ferzetti sitting, there was a cut-away to another man, and when we next saw Ferzetti he was on his feet. The original scene probably featured expository dialogue that the U.S. distributor wanted shortened inorder to get quickly to the first murder scene which followed. But if that dialogue had been kept, perhaps no one would have thought it necessary to insert the awful narration over the shot of Peter Falk arriving at the Las Vegas casino. I cringed in my seat when I first heard it, not only because it was corny, but also because it was completely unnecessary.
Even in the original version, the HIGH NOON-like "Ballad of Hank McCain" was corny, especially as it was first heard during a long hand-held shot showing our hero's POV as he walked out of his cell, down a long prison tier, and finally up to a guard who turned over his belongings. ("No man ever was nor ever will be like the man called Hank McCain.") Well, the English language version of the movie softened the corniness of the song by dropping it completely and shortening the entire "release from prison" sequence. In fact, the English language version only used the song at the end of the movie.
As the film approached the meeting of Cassavetes' and Britt Ekland's characters, I got nervous. I knew the U.S. version had been given a "GP" rating. What did they do to this sequence to avoid an "R"? In the original film, John and Britt went to Britt's apartment. They stared at each other for a moment, and then John forced himself upon her. She tried to fight him off, but he picked her up, rushed into the bedroom, threw her down on the bed and raped her, with her struggling all the while. So, in the English version, they entered her apartment and close the door. "Cut to" the "morning after" scene with John and Britt not talking over the breakfast table. "What the hell?" I thought. "How was that supposed to make sense?"
Having been raped, Britt obviously was waiting for John to leave. Instead, he took her to the bedroom again. This time she decided to not fight, but to not cooperate either. However, in the midst of the act, she was surprised to find herself responding and she eventually fell in love with John. This was a big part of the original novel with McCain's sexual prowess and its effect on Irene being the reason the book is called CANDYLEG.
Later on, when John must dispose of his son's body, the sequence was originally much longer, with the second version of "The Ballad of Hank McCain" ("No one knows better than McCain, life's a very dirty game; very, very hard to win.") playing over it. Cassavetes puts the body in his car, drives over to get Britt and the two of them drive off. I don't remember what they did with the body, but in the English version, the shot of John driving up to the Golden Gate bridge - which follows the shot of John putting the body in his car - originally came later in the film while John and Britt were on the run.
As you may have already guessed, in the original film there was no narration explaining that the Organization was out to "block every means of escape" for our fugitive heroes. That was, after all, what the film was showing us.
In the 1980s, as home video gained in popularity, it became possible to find the original European versions of movies that were released altered for U.S. audiences. The European version of HERCULES starring Steve Reeves appeared on U.S. home video seemingly by accident with Embassy not noting that what they had was different in content from the version previously put out by Magnetic Video. And as delicatessens that catered to Italian-speaking communities started carrying VHS tapes, it was only a matter of time before GLI INTOCCABILI would appear. When it did, I quickly rented it with the conviction that I would finally get to see the long version again. Imagine the sense of crushed expectations when I put on the tape and found that the picture used for the VHS was the U.S. version - with the credits in English. The Italian language soundtrack had been crudely cut to match the U.S. picture. They hadn't bothered to remix the soundtrack; they cut it so that when the first ballad came on during the hand-held POV of McCain walking in prison, you could hear every deletion from the picture. (It was something like, "No one ever Hank that a free.") I was so disappointed that I didn't make an illegal copy of the tape figuring that the recording that I made off KCOP-TV would suffice until the long version finally showed up.
I'm still waiting.
Director Sergio Sollima's CITTA VIOLENTA was another film I saw many times on the Japanese theatrical circuit and was crushed to find it shortened for its U.S. release as THE FAMILY. But when Blue Underground brought that out on DVD, they had found a longer version than the one that I originally saw in the theater. (The opening sequence of Charles Bronson and Jill Ireland on the yacht featured on the Blue Underground DVD was about two minutes longer than the Japanese theatrical.) I hoped that they would be able to do the same thing with GLI INTOCCABILI, but it didn't happen. Perhaps the long version is now gone; existing only in the memoires of those that saw it forty years ago.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Rescuing the pilot for the new Zorro TV show.

The Official History
by Sandra Curtis

The reworked concept attracted French partners, Ellipse Programme, the production arm of the French broadcaster Canal Plus, Germany's Beta TV, and Italy's RAI. In addition to New World Television, the Family Channel, an American cable operator, joined as a producer. A true international co-production took shape. The show was shot outside Madrid with a crew from Spain, England, and the United States. A total of eighty-eight episodes were filmed over four seasons.
The only cast member to survive the face-lift was Patrice Martinez. The rest of the cast was completely new. Martinez, who was born in New Mexico, played the female lead in Steve Martin's THREE AMIGOS and had a small role in Tim Burton's BEETLEJUICE. She was trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London on scholarship, and upon graduation she received a number of the academy's prestigious awards...
A Mexican actor named Ferdinand Allende was offered the lead as Zorro/Diego. He declined the part, however, because the shooting schedule conflicted with his wedding.
The nod was finally given to Canadian actor Duncan Regehr, who was tall, dark, and handsome. Like Guy Williams, Duncan can fence and ride. Both in Lethbridge, Alberta, and raised in Victoria, British Columbia, Duncan entered show business as a figure skater at age ten with local and regional ice shows. He began acting at the age of fourteen, hosting a talk show on cable TV in his hometown. He attended the Bastion Theater School, Vancouver's Julliard, spending two years studying voice, movement, acting, and fencing, along with his academic load. Duncan undertook several years of acting in regional theater, moving on to the Ontario Shakespeare Festival before jumping into television and films. He had trained for a spot on Canada's Olympic boxing team from 1976 to 1980 and had learned to fence at school in Ontario. While living in Los Angeles, he raised horses. At six-five and 196 pounds, Regehr cut a commanding image as the Spanish California hero.
Regehr had been considered for the pilot but was tied up with another series at the time. He was called again when Patrick James was abandoned. This time, schedules clicked. Duncan, who had played the swashbuckler Errol Flynn in MY WICKED, WICKED WAYS, was in England working on THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII when he got a call from one of the Zorro producers. Gary Goodman went to meet him. Since Duncan had already seen the script, casting was a snap, and as he explained, the producers were "very keen to get me for the role. So, that's it! I graduated to Zorro."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Leone Prepping $5,000,000 Saga

From: Variety 1968
Rome, Jan. 9.

After three straight years of absolute boxoffice leadership with "For A Fistful of Dollars," "For A Few Dollars More" and "The Good, The Ugly, The Bad," Sergio Leone missed the marquee last Dec. 25 though indirectly represented by his ex-assistant Tonino Valeri, and a Leone-like western, "Days of Anger."
Prepared to abandon the school of Italoaters he brought to life, Leone last week discussed his return to coproduce and direct a $5,000,000 saga, "Once Upon a Time In the West," and explained his long absence since "The Good, The Ugly, The Bad" as a period filled with preparation to complete the screenplay commit a big cast and set locations in Arizona and Spain.
Partnering with Euro International Film, Leone signed Charles Bronson as the male lead (though billed below the title), Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale and Jason Robards (above the title) and a supporting cast including Enrico Maria Salerno, Frank Woolf, Robert Hossein, Robert Ryan, Jack Elam and Woody Strode.
Europe International prexy Count Giuseppe Cicogna said "Once Upon a Time" would enter production April 1 near Guadix in southern Spain for a two-month location period, then move to Monument Valley for four more weeks of exteriors and wind on interiors in Rome either in Cinecitta or Dinocitta.
Budget, he said, was over 3,000,000,000 lire ($5,000,000) an investment totally financed in Italy - the biggest project of its kind backed entirely by national capital. However, the investment risk is considerably lighter since Cicoqua's recent deal with Paramount topper Charles Bluhdorn for Yank release worldwide, less Italy where Cicogna hopes Leone will climb back in the b.o. saddle with another of his shattering grosses for the Euro distrib banner.
Yarn deals with three bandits (Bronson, Fonda, Robards) and prostie Cardinale in the '60s of the last century who find the West closing out on them with advent of the chemin de fer and unity between East and West. Film will retain the violence and irony that characterized Leone's earlier trio of school-founding oaters. But the director said he hopes to incorporate a big social vista of mid-18th century America.

[Again, I've reproduced the original article with mis-spellings and factual mistakes; i.e. the film takes place during the 19th century - the 1800s, not the 18th century - the 1700s.]

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Official Foreign Zorro Films

by Sandra Curtis


1952 Il Segno di Zorro (Zorro's Dream) - Italy - Mario Soldati - Walter Chiari
1958 El Zorro Escarlata - Mexico
1961 El Zorro Vengador (Zorro the Avenger) - Spain - Joaiquin Luis Romero - Luis Aguilar
1961 Zorro Nella Valle dei Fantasmi - Mexico - - Jeff Stone
1961 Espada del Zorro (retitled Zorro for American release in 1963) - Spain/France
1961 Zorro Contro Maciste (Zorro versus Maciste) (retitled Samson and the Slave Queen for American TV release in 1963) - Italy - Umberto Lenzi - Pierre Brice
1961 Zorro E I Tre Moschettiere (Zorro and the Three Musketeers) - Italy - Luigi Capuano - Gordon Scott
1962 Zorro Alla Corte di Spagna (Zorro at the Court of Spain) (American release, 1977) - Italy/Spain - Luigi Capuano - Giorgio Ardisson
1962 La Venganza del Zorro - Spain/Mexico - - Frank Latimore
1962 Il Segno di Zorro (retitled Mark of Zorro) - Franco/Italy - Mario Caiano - Sean Flynn
1963 La Tre Spade di Zorro - Italy/Spain - - Guy Stockwell
1963 L'Ombra di Zorro (Oath of Zorro) - Spain/Italy - Richard Blasco - Frank Latimore
1963 Shade of Zorro - Italy/Spain - Francesco de Masi
1964 Three Swords of Zorro - Italy - Richard Blasco
1964 Behind the Mask of Zorro - Italy - Richard Blasco
1964 Adventures of the Brothers X - Mexico - Frederic Curiel
1964 The Lone Rider - Mexico - Ralph Baledon
1964 The Valley of the Disappearing - Mexico - Ralph Baledon
1965 Il Giuramente di Zorro - Italy/Spain - - Tony Russel
1965 La Montana Sin Ley - Spain - Jose Suarez
1966 Zorro Il Ribelle (Zorro the Rebel) - Italy - Piero Pierotti - Howard Ross
1968 Nippotti di Zorro (Grandsons of Zorro) - Italy - Franco Franchi and Ciccia Ingrassia - Dean Reed
1968 Zorro il Cavaliere della Vendetta - Italy/Spain - - Charles Quiney
1968 El Zorro la Volpe - Italy - - Giorgio Ardisson
1969 Zorro il Dominatore (Zorro the Domineerer) - Italy/Spain - - Charles Quiney
1969 Zorro the Navarra Marquis (Zorro Marchese di Navarro) - Italy - Francois Monty - Nadir Moretti
1969 El Zorro - Italy - - Giorgio Ardisson
1969 Zorro alla Corte D'Inghilterra (Zorro at the English Court) - Italy - Franco Montemorro - Spyros Focas
1969 El Zorro Justiciero - Italy/Spain - - Martin Moore
1970 Zorro, the Knight of the Vengeance - Spain - Jose Louis Merion -
1970 Zorro la Maschera della Vendetta - Italy/Spain - - Charles Quiney
1972 Les Aventures Galantes de Zorro - Belgium - Jean -Michel Dhermay -
1973 El Hijo del Zorro - Italy/Spain - Gian Franco Baldanelle -
1973 El Figlio di Zorro - Italy/Spain - - Robert Widmark
1974 Zorro (American release by United Artists in 1975) - Italy/France - Duccio Tessari - Alain Delon
1974 El Zorro - Mexico - - Julio Aldama
1975 Il Sogno di Zorro - Italy - - Franco Fanchi

[I decided to copy this listing without making corrections just for the record.]

Saturday, July 24, 2010

First pilot for new Zorro series

by Sandra Curtis

John had insisted on creative consultation rights for the series, but he found himself in conflict with the producers over how much they would be willing to accept him as a creative partner. The problem he confronted with Goodman-Rosen, the line producers, was to be revisited with each new Zorro project. Hollywood producers have a notorious reputation for paying rights holders and expecting them to disappear once the contracts are signed, but rights holders must exercise controls to protect the integrity of their characters to insure the property into the future. John's concerns regarding the pilot were summarily ignored by Goodman-Rosen. His chief complaint was the violence. The plot involved numerous killings and generally lacked humor; a critical part of the Zorro formula. Gertz felt that the music was terrible and that the original casting was by and large a disgrace.
Nancy's treatment had again been abandoned in favor of the concept of the producers, Goodman-Rosen. Antonio de la Cruz, the nephew of Don Diego, takes up the mantle of his boyhood hero when Zorro is killed by the commandant, Monastario. One element of Nancy's treatment was retained: Antonio played a clumsy scholar with glasses whose heroes were da Vinci and Cervantes.
The pilot featured Patrick James as Zorro and Patrice Martinez as the female lead, Dona Maria Constansa Arrillaga, a spoiled, rich girl to whom Antonio was betrothed. Antonio does not endear himself to his arranged marriage partner,harboring memories of Maria as a fat and homely child. Yet she has grown into a feisty, dark-haired beauty. Maria's feelings about Antonio echo his own about her. She is, however, very impressed with Zorro. In the climax, Antonio uses his knowledge of da Vinci's principles of flight to build a hang glider, which he dramatically sails into the plaza to rescue falsely convicted men from execution.
Location shooting took place on the southern coast of Spain near Almeria in November 1987. Many of the extras were retired Brits who had abandoned their foggy isle for the warmth of the Mediterranean coast. Almeria ahd been the location for filming many spaghetti westerns, possibly even some of the European Zorro films from the 1960s and 1970s. Gertz fumed on the set, watching a nightmare unfold before his eyes.
Based on a disastrous pilot, interest in teh revival of Zorro as a live-action hero fell short of attracting the required funding partners. The fox once again seemed headed toward a short-lived revival. Although Patrick James looked the part of Zorro, his limited acting experience had not prepared him to meet the challenge of playing the fox. The producers went back to the drawing board, revamping the concept and addressing some of Gertz's concerns. The story line reverted to a traditional Zorro scenario without the oppressive violence. The fox had partially been rescued.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ian McCulloch on Donal O'Brien

From: A Trilogy of Terror
An interview with Ian McCulloch
by Jason J. Slater & Marcelle Parks
Diabolik number 1 (1997)

Donald O'Brien who played the mad doctor in ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST stayed in Italy for a number of years to make horror and war movies. Like his character in Girolami's film, he quickly became typecast as a monster, Nazi or something on those lines.

He was a nice Irish chap based in Paris, wasn't he? After the film had finished, he had this horrible accident where he banged his head and was stuck in a hospital in Paris for a long time. O'Brien was in a very bad way, no one knew if he could live, walk or even go on. If he has sort of gone on then I'm very pleased for him and that's fantastic.

[The fellow's name was Donal O'Brien, but reportedly he had to get identification listing his name as "Donald O'Brien" because his paychecks - as well as his film credits - kept misspelling his name. The near fatal accident reportedly occured in 1980 but he was able to resume working in a few years. The interviewer seemed unaware of O'Brien's career in Italian Westerns co-starring with Tomas Milian in RUN MAN RUN and with Richard Harrison in JESSIE AND LESTER, TWO BROTHERS IN A PLACE CALLED TRINITY.]

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Why a new Zorro TV series produced in Europe?

by Sandra Curtis

The old Disney series [starring Guy Williams] hit the airwaves in France, airing on FR-3 in 1985, causing a nationwide sensation. Zorro fever struck France with a force equal to the one that captivated Americans during the heyday of Dallas. The Disney show aired in the most desirable time slot in France, Friday night at nine o'clock. The interest spilled over to merchandising. Kiosks featured new comic strip Zorro stories in Edimonde's Le Journal de Mickey. Products ranging from puzzles to chocolates to bedsheets and everything in between were marketed.
Over the previous two years, John Gertz had been running the Zorro business part-time while he completed the coursework for his Ph. D. Nancy Larson continued screenwriting and was selected to attend the prestigious Sundance Institute to develop her film THE WIZARD OF LONELINESS. Gertz-Larson Productions had evolved into Zorro Productions, Inc. Now, two roads diverged before John. He could devote his energies full-time to reviving Zorro as a classic character, or he could write his doctoral dissertation. John took a year's leave of absence from school to see how he'd fare in the business world and saw the leave extend as he grew Zorro into a successful international property.
Riding the wave of success in Europe, Gertz interviewed agents in early 1987 to see if they could generate interest in a new live-action series. Along with Bob Cristani of the William Morris Agency, John pitched Nancy's treatment to seven production companies in two days. Twenty-four hours later, all seven came back with offers to do the show. They closed a deal with New World Television, which was willing to commit to a minimum of twenty-five episodes, the number required for European participation. A network sale would have been more lucrative but it also would have meant a limited production order. Gertz didn't want to see the show cancelled again after only five episodes. [Which is what happened to the Gertz-Larson Productions and Walt Disney Studios series Zorro and Son for CBS-TV back in 1983.]

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ian McCulloch on Marino Girolami

From: A Trilogy of Terror
An interview with Ian McCulloch
by Jason J. Slater & Marcelle Perks
Diabolik number 1 (1997)

The director of ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST was a veteran of Italian comedy television films. How was it to work with him in a horror movie? Did he find it difficult to work within such a genre?

This chap? (Ian points at the credits of a theatrical poster). Remind me what his name was.

Marino Girolami which is his real name instead of the pseudo Frank Martin.

Marino? He was just a really, really nice fellow. He was obviously quite old, you know. I take it he's dead now as well?

Yeah, he died in early '95.

He was much older than Fulci and he seemed to have a long career in making films. He was so straightforward, but he was also a bit of a bully, never to me but to the minions around who were supposed to be doing something they weren't doing right. You know, he was so much fun to talk to and it was great to have someone like that. We were driving through Rome one day and he said to me that (Ian points as to imitate Marino) "You see that statue over there? That's me." When Mussolini brought the Olympic Stadium in Rome, they had various statues of their athletes all over the place, and one of a boxer is Marino because he was at one time the European boxing champion (Note that the statue can also be seen in the weirdo documentary THE WILD WILD WORLD OF JAYNE MANSFIELD). But he was friendly, open and would talk to you. His English may have been not that good but it didn't matter to him. So against all odds, and although it was very silly, ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST turned out to be a far happier film than I expected.

[Marino Girolami was a much more experienced director than just a maker of Italian television comedies. 1962's L'IRA DI ACHILLE (aka THE FURY OF ACHILLES) was his 36th or 37th directing credit (depending on whose count you believe). When Richard Harrison introduced me to him, he said that Marino was the quickest film director of whom he knew; quick but good. In fact, he made films so quickly distributors asked him to credit other directors so as to not glut the market. He was responsible for a whole series of Westerns made in Spain credited to other guys: POCHI DOLLARI PER DJANGO (A FEW DOLLARS FOR DJANGO, credited to Leon Klimovsky and recently claimed by Marino's son Enzo G. Castellari who reused some footage for his first directoral credit SETTE WINCHESTER PER UN MASSACRO, aka PAYMENT IN BLOOD), ANCHE NEL WEST C'ERA UNA VOLTA DIO (aka BETWEEN GOD THE DEVIL AND A WINCHESTER, credited to Dario Silvestri by directed by Marino says star Richard Harrison) and REVERENDO COLT (aka REVEREND COLT, credited to Leon Klimovsky but directed by Marino says Harrison). Despite his diverse experience, his most popular successes in Italy were comedies such as PIERINO CONTRO TUTTI, which has recently been released in the U.S. on Mya DVD as DESIRABLE TEACHER. ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST was originally theatrically released in the U.S. as DOCTOR BUTCHER M.D. ]

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Remember Aldo

I was probably 11 when I first became aware of Aldo Sambrell. Burt Reynolds in NAVAJO JOE gave a physically thrilling performance as a man seeking revenge on the gang of scalphunters that murdered his wife and village. The leader of the gang was evil personified and the actor who played the role filled it with chilling conviction. Who was that black-hatted actor? He was billed for that film as Aldo Sambrell. Later on I realized that he was in the three Sergio Leone directed Westerns starring Clint Eastwood - but he never again had quite the high-profile role that he had in NAVAJO JOE.
After NAVAJO JOE burned his face into my consciousness, Aldo popped up in scores of movies that I saw - including THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD, THE LAST RUN w/George C. Scott and FACCIA A FACCIA with Tomas Milian and Gian Maria Volonte. His billing seemed to change alot - Aldo Sanbrell and Alfredo Sanchez Brell were just two of the variations.
In 1984, I started my fanzine SPAGHETTI CINEMA (with Jerry Neeley and John Sullivan) and in issue #7 I decided to attempt to review every film featuring Aldo. I entitled the article "Spain's Best Villan" - only later realizing that I had left out an "i". (This article was partly inspired by the fact that Spanish language stations in L.A. were showing a pile of movies featuring Aldo about which I had been previously unaware: ATRACO EN LA JUNGLA, SOL SANGRIENTO, VUDU SANGRIENTO, LAS MUNECAS DEL KING KONG.) Thanks to the fanzine, I made contact with quite a few fans of these kinds of movies, one of whom was Michael Ferguson. Mike got up the money to visit Spain and later wrote me that he had found the offices of Asbrell Productions and met the man himself; Aldo Sanbrell. He mailed to me a photo which Aldo had kindly signed. (see above)
Years later, again thanks to the fanzine, I met Don Bruce, who had decided to visit every location used by Sergio Leone in the making of the Westerns. While in Spain, he met Aldo Sanbrell, and eventually decided to pay Aldo's way to visit Los Angeles to attend the 2002 Golden Boot Awards - an annual celebration of Western movies which was a fund raiser for the Motion Picture and Television Fund. Kindly, Don also invited Tom Betts and me to attend. Not only did we get to meet with Aldo at the Beverly Hilton event, but Don invited us to breakfast the next morning at his house where we would interview Aldo near Don's swimming pool. It was a great chat, but the highlight for me was when Aldo pulled out his portfolio and resume - which included a photocopy of my first article on him from S.C. #7. It turn out that Mike Ferguson had given him a copy of that issue, so he knew who I was before I met him.
Don paid Aldo's way to attend the 2004 Golden Boot Awards and I was able to visit with him again. It was a real pleasure.
So, the news that he had been hospitalized at the end of May due to a series of "mini-strokes" was upsetting. And while there were reports that he may be sent home from the hospital, there were also reports that he was having trouble speaking and remembering.
On July 10, 2010, he died in the hospital in Alicante, Spain. He left behind a wife, Candida, and more fans than he probably knew that he had.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ian McCulloch on Richard Johnson

From: A Trilogy of Terror
An interview with Ian McCulloch
by Jason J. Slater & Marcelle Perks
Diabolik number 1 (1997)

I get the impression from ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS that Richard Johnson just didn't want to be there.

From the movie itself? I think he was a fantastic actor. When I first joined the Royal Shakespeare company, straight from university, I didn't know much about acting. I was told to go backstage to the back of the audience on every production to see what people were doing and how they were doing it. One of the shows was called THE DEVILS which Richard was doing and he was just fabulous and I saw him in about four other plays and he is a marvellous actor, immensely professional. I think he had a big success in a detective thing two years before ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS which had a huge success in Italy and I think he knew he could walk through the film. He knew that he could act for the film in a professional way. I mean he's a wonderful actor and he just gets on and does it in the same way as any other actor; he did anything he wanted to do, without thinking. He could have swamped everyone off screen with his acting, he had tremendous power and passion. I think Fulci was a little wary of Richard, he treated him with great respect, far more respect than any of us and I think he was also a little wary of me because he didn't know me or what I could do. I mean, I think I'm pretty awful in it.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

An Official Look At the European Zorros

The Official History
by Sandra Curtis

During the 1960s, over thirty foreign Zorro movies were produced, chiefly in Mexico, Italy, and Spain. Inexpensively shot, they would be classified in the genre of "spaghetti westerns."
McCulley's masked fox confronted Cardinal Richelieu with the Musketeers in ZORRO E I TRE MOSCHIETTIERI (ZORRO AND THE THREE MOUSKETEERS, 1961, Italy). Zorro returned the grand duchy of Lusitania to its rightful heir in ZORRO ALLA CORTE DI SPAGNIA (ZORRO IN THE COURT OF SPAIN, 1962, Italy). He became King of Nogara in ZORRO CONTRO MACISTE (ZORRO AGAINST MACISTE, 1963, Italy). In ZORRO ALLA CORTE D'INGHILTERRA (ZORRO IN THE COURT OF ENGLAND, 1969, Italy) Zorro opposed a tyrant who ruled an English colony in Central America for Queen Victoria. ZORRO, MARCHESE DI NAVARRO (ZORRO, MARQUIS OF NAVARRO, 1969, Italy) found the masked hero opposing Napoleon's troops in Spain at the beginning of the 1800s. An extra named Sophia Ciccaloni who appeared in IL SOGNO DI ZORRO (ZORRO'S DREAM, 1962, Italy) went on to a renowned film career as Sophia Loren. Another 1962 Italian film, IL SEGNO DI ZORRO (THE SIGN OF ZORRO) launched the acting career of Sean Flynn, the son of romantic swashbuckler Errol Flynn. The fox didn't wear his characteristic black outfit and carve a Z on a wall only once. Directed by journeyman Mario Caiano, the remake was lackluster and forgettable.
The most notable of these foreign productions starred French actor Alain Delon. As with other productions, Delon's 1974 film takes great liberty in place and story, yet preserves the basic elements of McCulley's character.

[The wife of John Gertz, one of the owners of the Zorro copyright, Sandra Curtis obviously needed a better proof reader as Zorro did not fight the Mousketeers in an Italian film.]

Friday, July 2, 2010

Duccio Tessari on the end of the Italian Western

[In 1986, Lorenzo De Luca conducted an interview with director Duccio Tessari which was published in both Lorenzo's fanzine FAR HORIZONS and his book C'ERA UNA VOLTA IL WESTERN ITALIANO.]

LDL: A typical element of American Westerns were Indians. Why was this element missing from Italian Westerns?

Duccio Tessari: Because we don't look like Indians! A tall blond stuntman can look like an American. A good Flamenco dancer - I can use him as a Mexican. But for Indians - we don't have the faces!

LDL: Why do you think the Italian Western came to an end?

DT: It was a too exploited genre. The audience was fed up, but I think that the end of the genre was also caused by Enzo Barboni. I mean parody films exault the subject - think of the Franci and Ingrassia movies. But when you take genre and subvert it; build up gags like Barboni did with TRINITY, you reach a point where there is nothing left to say.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Yul Brynner crashes car during production of INDIO BLACK.

by Jhan Robbins

Brynner's next role was a laconic soldier of fortune in a spaghetti Western called ADIOS SABATA (1971). The movie was short on plot but long on violence - a goldplated, sawed-off repeating rifle and a triple-barreled derringer got a great deal of practice. Yul made good use of both of them.
Alberto Grimaldi, the producer, had loaned him a sleek cherry-red convertible to ferry him to and from the set. Initially, Brynner made the trip in half an hour. Each day he managed to reduce his time. He had it down to twenty-one minutes when the car got out of control and crashed into a stone embankment. Fortunately, Yul wasn't hurt. However, the car was reduced to rubble. When he requested that it be replaced with another sports car, he was told that it would be best if he was driven by a chauffeur.
"Yul gave me his version of the accident," Jean Levin said. "According to him it was entirely the automobile's fault - defective breaks. In all the years I knew him, never once did he take the blame for anything. It was always somebody else's fault. Even the breakup of his marriage wasn't due to something he did. He and Doris were having lots of marital problems. I suppose the chief one was his continued interest in other women."

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Duccio Tessari on influences

[In 1986, Lorenzo De Luca conducted an interview with director Duccio Tessari which was published in both Lorenzo's fanzine FAR HORIZONS and his book C'ERA UNA VOLTA IL WESTERN ITALIANO.]

LDL: Who influenced you the most?

Duccio Tessari: I think that, even if we don't realize it, we are influenced all the time. One who reads - a learned man or anyone, possesses a little critical sense. It's difficult to not be influenced because these people keep on stocking-up a great deal of things.
We are never original - not when we write, neither when we speak and make a pun. However, when you read a lot, or see and assimilate a lot of films, its gets difficult to distinguish between what is your own and what is not. As a film director, my great loves have been Ford, Hawks, Hathaway - but they did not influence me in the way of shooting. Or, at least, not that I am aware. The two directors I really feel bound to are De Sica and Luchino Visconti.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Yul Brynner on VILLA RIDES

by Jhan Robbins

In his next screen venture, VILLA RIDES (1968), Yul was cast as Pancho Villa, the famous Mexican revolutionary. Soon after the film was released, Arthur Godfrey read a rhyming review on his NBC television program:

VILLA RIDES is filled with so much rot,
Authentic Mexican history it is not.
So what else has this wacky movie got?
Yul. And these days he's not so hot.

Brynner was in a Paris hotel when he was told about Godfrey's uncomplimentary appraisal. He stayed up all night composing a rebuttal. As soon as it was finished he sent it to NBC and demanded equal time.
"I'd served a hitch in the Navy, and I thought nothing could embarrass me," Godfrey said. "But I have to admit that I blushed when I read Yul's reply. Practically every other word was obscene."
Brynner defended VILLA RIDES. "It was a wonderful screenplay," he said. "The director whom I had personally approved had to bow out because he was needed on another film. He was replaced with a director who had very little movie experience. When it came out, everything looked flattened and the performances were meaningless. Added to that sorry mess, the film had been cut in the wrong way. It was a bloody shame, because it's so rare to get a good script. Damn few picture makers really know anything about the film industry. To get a cushy movie job you have to be an accountant, a lawyer, or a stockbroker. It's very uncommon to have risen from the ranks!"
Brynner preferred making movies outside the United States. "Foreign countries still regard the actor as somebody," he said. "In Hollywood, the actor has become just another businessman - seldom a true artist."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Duccio Tessari on the difference between American and Italian Westerns

[In 1986, Lorenzo De Luca conducted an interview with director Duccio Tessari which was published in both Lorenzo's fanzine FAR HORIZONS and his book C'ERA UNA VOLTA IL WESTERN ITALIANO.]

LDL: What are the differences between the Westerns of John Ford and Howard Hawks and the Westerns of Sergio Leone and Duccio Tessari?

Duccio Tessari: The fundamental difference is that they play at home. They have the right faces for the characters; from the heroes to the extras - the indians are as real as the musicans and the cowboys. Their scenery and environment are genuine. We were compelled to struggle with impossible things. It was typical in our films that the villains were Mexicans. Why? Because we were shooting in Spain where the scenery and the environment looked like the American West and the people were similar to Mexicans. The only Americans were the 2 or 3 main characters. We were compelled to recreate everything; Americans had everything on hand. That's the real difference between our Westerns and their's.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Brynner, McQueen and RETURN OF THE SEVEN

by Jhan Robbins

He was the only one of the original band of gunfighters to appear in RETURN OF THE SEVEN (1966), a successor to THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. Once again he donned his black cowboy costume and resumed the role of Chris, a mysterious shoot-to-kill philosopher-gunfighter. Yul urged Steve McQueen, whom he regarded as his protege, to also repeat his part. McQueen begged off because of another commitment. "I'd sure like to," he said. "But I'm too busy." Privately, he admitted the new plot was absurd.
At a party given by Jack Benny and Mary Livingston, Brynner and McQueen insisted on serenading the guests with a medley of cowboy ballads. They both had been drinking heavily, and when it came time to leave, they began whistling for their horses. They were disappointed when their chauffer-driven automobiles appeared in the driveway.
"Where's mah horse?" Yul asked drunkenly.
"Thar must be a horsethief in th' crowd," McQueen replied.
He had promised Yul that he would appear with him in his next movie. A month later Brynner signed a contract to star in TRIPLE CROSS (1967), a spy thriller that was made in England and France. Again, McQueen reneged. This time he offered his excuse in a cablegram: "I'M TRULY SORRY THAT I CAN'T BE WITH YOU BUT MY HORSE REFUSES TO SWIM THE ATLANTIC."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Duccio Tessari on the sound of the Italian Western

[In 1986, Lorenzo De Luca conducted an interview with director Duccio Tessari which was published in both Lorenzo's fanzine FAR HORIZONS and his book C'ERA UNA VOLTA IL WESTERN ITALIANO.]

LDL: The Italian Westerns used the soundtrack differently; why this particular attention to the soundtrack?
Duccio Tessari: I don't think that is a fact concerning quality. I mean that Morricone, Ferrio, Travaioli, took the classic music themes in a new way. But in our Westerns, and here's the difference, the noise - the punches, the gunshots - was exaggerated, expressive, never real. During the sound mix, inorder to avoid the music getting covered by other noises, we tended to set the volume higher.
I remember Sergio Leone in the dubbing studio calling to the mixer, "Bartolome! Make the blows louder! Bartolome!"

LDL: American critics didn't approve of the Italian reinterpretation of the myth, but wasn't your Ringo a success in America?

DT: My films, Corbucci's films, and Leone's films were successful everywhere in the world - Japan, France, Germany, Hong Kong. Americans had to accept what was going on and showed our Westerns, too, and they were successful there, too.

Monday, June 21, 2010


by Jhan Robbins

As a favor to Cocteau, Brynner did a guest bit in LE TESTAMENT D'ORPHEE, a movie that was a tribute to the French surrealist author. It was written by Cocteau, directed by Cocteau, and had Cocteau playing Cocteau. Brynner claimed that he had helped fashion the perplexing story line: Cocteau's spiritual search for himself in a world full of phantoms and symbols.
Yul's part was that of a tuxedo-wearing gateman who guards the entrance to hell. His assistants were also clad in tuxedos and had completely bald heads. Other cast members were artist Pablo Picasso, bullfighter Luis Cominguin, writer Francoise Sagan.
"Jean was very interested in hell," Yul said. "So am I. We purposely chose Les Baux-de-Provence for the setting of trhe movie because Dante had lived there when he wrote the INFERNO. It gave you an eerie feeling of the devil at work. One of the many troubles with Hollywood studios today is that they allow accountants to choose the area where the film is to be made. Damn little thought is given to the historical significance!"
Brynner attended a special Hollywood screening of LE TESTAMENT D'ORPHEE. Midway through the film the audience, composed largely of high-ranking motion picture executives, started booing and hissing. Yul ordered the projectionist to cease running it. Then he hopped on the stage and shouted, "Cocteau was right when he told me that this movie should be forbidden to imbeciles!"
This diatribe didn't prevent him from being hired by MGM for SOLOMON AND SHEBA (1959). As bad as many of his films were, none rivaled this big-budget flop. It is well up on lists of the worst movies ever made. Yul's friend Tyrone Power had originally been selected for the leading role. When Power suffered a fatal heart attack, Brynner agreed to substitute. Because he arrived on the set after the film was in production he didn't have sufficient time to learn his lines. The result was that he often looked as if he were reading them from cue cards - as he was. "But it really didn't matter," he said. "Even by Hollywood standards the script was ludicrous."

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Duccio Tessari on the intention to demythologize

[In 1986, Lorenzo De Luca conducted an interview with director Duccio Tessari which was published in both Lorenzo's fanzine FAR HORIZONS and his book C'ERA UNA VOLTA IL WESTERN ITALIANO.]

LDL: As with American Westerns, Italian Westerns had good and bad characters, but for us it was only a convenient distinction as our heroes were all but honest and clean. Was the reinterpretation of the classic hero intentional or did it just happen?

Duccio Tessari: I don't think there was a clear, precise intention. I say so, because I remember well the scripts for PER UN PUGNO DI DOLLARI (aka A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS), made with Sergio Leone, and UNA PISTOLA PER RINGO (aka A PISTOL FOR RINGO). We must not forget that our cultural ground is not American, but European. For us the distinction between Good and Evil, Black and White, doesn't exist. Even the Good one commits wicked actions and even the Evil caresses children. I would say that the attitude of demythologization is typically Italian and not only concerning the Westerns. It was not intentional, it was natural for us to write Western stories that way.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Remembering Belinda Lee

From: Hollywood Citizen News
March 14, 1961

Belinda Lee, Actress, Dies In Auto Wreck

BAKER, Calif. (UPI) - Beautiful British actress Belinda Lee, whose love affair with Italian Prince Filippo Orsini led to her attempted suicide in 1958, was killed late yesterday in a spectacular 100-mile-an-hour auto crash.
Miss Lee, 25, hailed as England's answer to such film queens as Brigitte Bardot and Sophia Loren, was thrown 63 feet when the auto she was in blew a back tire, skidded 900 feet and flipped over on its top.
Three other persons in the auto, including her latest love, dashing Italian screen writer Gualtiero Jacopetti, 39, suffered serious injuries in the crash 12 miles east of this desert community.
The two others were Alet Nino Falenza, of Malibu, driver of the auto, and Paol Cavara, 34, Los Angeles. The injured were taken to Barstow Community Hospital.
The foursome had been at Las Vegas, working on a new movie and were returning to Hollywood when the accident occurred on U.S. 91, nearly 210 miles east of Los Angeles.
"She died shortly after the first officer arrived," said highway patrolman Donald Armitage, one of the first investigators on the scene.
"It's a wonder they weren't all killed. Blowouts at that speed are almost always fatal. A witness - a highway employe - told us the car went past him shortly before the blowout and must have been traveling about 100 miles an hour."
Member of a well-to-do Devonshire, England, family, blonde, green-eyed Miss Lee broke off her highly publicized affair with Orsini last year and announced her engagement to Jacopetti.
Jacopetti said they were to have been married as soon as he could obtain an annulment from his 18-year-old Gypsy wife of five years in Italy.
Miss Lee's husband, photographer Cornel Lucas, seperated from her in 1957, and in 1959 he named Orsini corespondent when he obtained a divorce. They had wed in 1954.

[Jacopetti dedicated his film, WOMEN OF THE WORLD, to Belinda Lee.]

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Duccio Tessari on cultural plundering

[In 1986, Lorenzo De Luca conducted an interview with director Duccio Tessari which was published in both Lorenzo's fanzine FAR HORIZONS and his book C'ERA UNA VOLTA IL WESTERN ITALIANO.]

LDL: The success of the Spaghetti Western raised alot of polemics: someone charged our cinema with appropriating a culture not its own. Then Sergio Leone said, "The West, considered as the myth of imagination, belongs to everybody." Do you agree? What were your Westerns based on?

Duccio Tessari: Sergio Corbucci was right when he said there was nothing wrong with us shooting a Western since the American filmmakers had, years before, come to Italy to shoot films about Ancient Rome. However, the West has been for us the dream of our childhood. Every one of the directors of my generation had grown up with formative movies, in a culture of cinema lovers. These films were all Westerns.
Besides, as I said before, the American people were an heterogeneous mix of races, and therefore the Western is not an exclusive American heritage. So, when we had this wonderful toy of our infancy in our hands, it was something fantastic.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Aldo Sanbrell is in the hospital

From: http://www.levante-emv.com/
La tumba del pistolero (THE TOMB OF A GUNMAN)
by Andres Valdes

"I have been dying in scores of Westerns." Today, at 79, Aldo Sanbrell lies at the General Hospital of Alicante in guarded condition.

As it dawned on Almeria in 1975 Spain, Sean Connery was eating with Aldo Sanbrell. They were filming THE WIND AND THE LION and the Almeria coast surrendered to the charms of two famous actors who left the night together. In the desert of Tabernas were friends, admirers and former colleagues from the Western side of Europe, the heartless evil in the films of Sergio Leone and Mario Camus; a loved and respected actor. Even today there are many tributes to Sanbrell, black like the back of an insect, as he challenged Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds, Lee Van Cleef and Charles Bronson holding a revolver in the dust made epic by Ennio Morricone. They have applauded his death, had shot down evil; the cruel gringo traveling to hell with his skull split by a Navajo tomahawk. Now, 40 years after the decline of the Spaghetti Western, his life now far from the stage and warmed only by the most faithful: his wife and his representative. 79 year old Aldo Sanbrell, after suffering three strokes, is in a room at the General Hospital of Alicante, a city where he consummated his disappointment with the same industry that took him to its heights. An actor in more than 170 films since his debut as an extra in KING OF KINGS in 1961, he has known more recognition in his country and a modest mention in the festival of short films by Sax in 2007.
Jose Portoles, manager and close friend of the actor since he moved to Alicante in 2006, reported on May 25 that the veteran actor was admitted after getting a poor prognosis. "Today, neither AISGE or the Spanish Film Academy have shown interest in his condition. He is the great desert of Tabernas. The movie 800 BULLETS, by the president of the Academy Alex de la Iglesia, was inspired by his personal friendship with Clint Eastwood. Sanbrell agonises today alone, forgotten by the industry in an Alicante hospital. That's how Rome re-pays its Generals," Portoles laments.
Sanbrell happened in Madrid during the Civil War and its aftermath, until at age 18 he was called up by the regime for military service. "He said he was not going to work for an army maintained by a hated regime. He was very athletic and went to Mexico to make a living as a singer and football player, after a time with Rayo Vallecano in Madrid. In the land of Pancho Villa, he sang flamenco, learned English, emulated Sinatra under the stage name of Alfredo de Ronda and played football in Puebla and Monterrey. Each day of filming became a party. Eastwood twisted cigars and the Dollars trilogy came from his cigarette. Eli Wallach, 'the ugly' of THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY, confessed that the first thing he learned in Spanish was 'tapas, drinks and shrimp' from Sanbrell during filming."
One year after participating in the culmination of the Leone Western saga, he played alongside Burt Reynolds as a young NAVAJO JOE. His performance was indelible as seen in his recent participation in the TV series The Commissioner.
Bedridden, Aldo smiles and says that he can not speak because he is sedated, not because he is weak. In the room, there are his wife and Portoles. And Burt Reynolds, who, from the cover of NAVAJO JOE, reminds him.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Duccio Tessari on Italian Western heroes

[In 1986, Lorenzo De Luca conducted an interview with director Duccio Tessari which was published in both Lorenzo's fanzine FAR HORIZONS and his book C'ERA UNA VOLTA IL WESTERN ITALIANO.]

LDL: In the '60s, the American Western was in a crisis. Had the audience grown tired of the upright hero?

Duccio Tessari: I should say so! Upright heroes are typically American heroes; originated from a Protestant culture. They are round, complete characters; doubtless. Our horoes, however, are always somewhat defeated heroes. From the beginning, doubtful and perplexed.
At first, America was a country where people from different groups lived - Englishmen, Irishmen, Greek, Italian and so on. Then these groups melted together inorder to face the adversities of the new frontier and to defend themselves from the Indians.
And then America could be said to be one people, and from them arose the image of the heroic American, upright and invincible. It is highly probable that during the '60s, the American hero was not very popular, but it is clear that such a crisis does not exist now - consider RAMBO. Today the heroic myth rises again.
Our Cowboys were rogues, fearful, shot people in the back, and had little in common with the heroic Cowboys - starting with Corbucci's violent ones, to my free and easy ones, and ending with the studied and serious characters of Sergio Leone.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A vintage review of THE CONFORMIST

I'm going through some old issues of FILMS IN REVIEW from 1970 and 1971, edited by Henry Hart, and they are a real hoot. Hart and his team of reviewers are quite a reactionary group, lambasting those two years as being the worst in cinema history citing the hero of THE FRENCH CONNECTION as "a sadist tyrannizing over blacks and... a sex pervert", THE LAST PICTURE SHOW as "one of those specious denigrations of American life" and DEATH IN VENICE showing "the Left's utilization of sexual perversion for political subversion". Also entertaining is their creation of new words: instead of cinematic adaptation they use "cinemation", instead of theatrical films they use "theafilms".
Considering it's current reputation as a modern classic, THE CONFORMIST gets a rather different review in those old pages.

April 1971, Vol. XXII No. 4

Alberto Moravia's novels about the Italian aristocracy are a little better than the denigrations of the British aristocracy once concocted for servant girls, but not much. His THE CONFORMIST, on which this film is based, is supposed to be one of his best. Its protagonist, the son of an insane father and a mother who is a drug-addicted nymphomaniac, becomes, in a zombie sort of way, a member of the Fascist Party. Jean Louis Trintignant portrays him and is a fitting choice for such a part.
All this is so facititious and uninteresting director Bernardo Bertolucci endeavors to save his cinemation of it from banality by obfuscating everything. Deliberately. At least I hope it was deliberately.
The result is a worthless film even the Left is none too enthusiastic about.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sergio Corbucci on CASTLE OF BLOOD

From: Cine Zine Zone #50
Interviewed by Carlo Piazza, May 1989
Translated into French by Pierre Charles and then translated into English by Arcides Gonzales

CP: Did you co-direct DANZA MACABRA, aka CASTLE OF BLOOD, as well as co-write it under the name Gordon Wilson Jr.?

Sergio Corbucci: Yes, that's right. It's very strange because I never included this film in my filmography although it is in fact my film. When I finished shooting IL MONACO DI MONZA with Toto, the producer and I thought that it would be interesting to use this castle with all its beautiful sets to make an Horror film. However, I was supposed to start soon the making of another film with Toto, and consequently I could not start something that I didn't have the time to finish, but the producer insisted so much that he convinced me: 'Do it, Sergio, start the shooting, don't worry about it, and if you have to leave before it's finished, we will do our best to finish it.'
When I was forced to leave, I had shot 50 to 60% of the film. In order to finish the work, I called Antonio Margheriti, a person who I knew was interested in this genre and who would guarantee the continuation of the film in the style I had given it.

[Interestingly, Margheriti remade this film six years later as NELLA STRETTA MORSA DEL RANGO, aka WEB OF THE SPIDER, with Tony Franciosa.]

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Leone influence.

From: National Catholic Office For Motion Pictures Films '69/70
Film Education The Western: A Genre in Transition prepared by Frank Frost USC

The disillusionment we see in THE WILD BUNCH is not exactly new, nor is the public unprepared for its degree of violence. The unabashed violence of the Sergio Leone Westerns (A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, and so on) was no hindrance to their very popular success. To a public saturated with the saccharine goodness of men who shoot only when they have to, and then only to wound, in the defense of delicate women (whether they be devoted wives or pretty prostitutes), Leone's films offered a cynical and textured real world in which men are ugly, unshaven, sweaty, and irritated by horse flies. Likewise women are plain, earthy, and as hard, calculating, and self-seeking as anyone else. Peckinpah also creates such a texture, tempered, however, with characters who have some human feelings

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sergio Corbucci on Steve Reeves

From: Cine Zine Zone #50
Interview by Carlo Piazza, May 1989
Translated into French by Pierre Charles and then translated into English by Arcides Gonzales

CP: The film, THE SON OF SPARTACUS, with the character of Randus-Zorro, is another in the Western style.

Sergio Corbucci: I would say so. Yes, absolutely. As far as I am concerned, if I have to refer to someone, I refer to John Ford and not to Cecil B. DeMille. In Italy, at any rate, we have had directors who did sword and sandal films formally more correct than from a DeMillean point of view, but that goes back to the silent film. ROMULUS AND REMUS and THE SON OF SPARTACUS are two current, modern films, which seem to have been shot yesterday and not about 30 years ago.

CP: What can you tell us about Steve Reeves?

SC: A great guy. He always did everything I told him without a fuss. There are actors who seem to know it all. That makes me go mad. Not Reeves. I cannot complain about him.
During the shooting of ROMULUS AND REMUS, he showed me some resentment nonetheless because he thought I favored Scott over him. Of course, that wasn't true. I have never favored any actor over another. I have always treated everybody equally. Reeves had gotten this idea because he would often see me laughing and joking in the company of Scott. But Scott is the extrovert type; happy, who would cheer you up, and I preferred, frankly, to be with him than with Reeves, who was always taciturn and sullen.

CP: Do you think Leone thought about Reeves for the leading role in FISTFUL OF DOLLARS?

SC: I don't think so. Reeves does not know how to walk - perhaps because of his big thighs which impeded his movement. He wasn't right for a Western, and Leone knew it.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Monte Hellman on CHINA 9, LIBERTY 37

From: Cable Column
"A Conversation with MONTE HELLMAN"
Z Channel Magazine - unknown date

Monte Hellman: TWO LANE BLACKTOP probably had the most success of any of my pictures because it was really widely distributed. It was booked into a lot of theatres in America even though it wasn't ever really promoted. But I think CHINA 9, LIBERTY 37 actually made more money in a realistic sense for the people who were involved because it was made so cheaply and everybody that sold it, sold it at a profit. TWO LANE BLACKTOP, I'm sure made money for the distribution company but the production company claims that it's still in the red or something. I don't know. CHINA 9, LIBERTY 37 made more money because everyone who's touched it has essentially doubled his money.

(Z: Was TWO LANE BLACKTOP the biggest budget?)

MH: No, actually CHINA 9, LIBERTY 37 was the biggest budget. TWO LANE was $900,000 and CHINA 9, LIBERTY 37 was $1,100,000, actually. Just to show the difference now, one film I'm preparing to be shot essentially the same way as the other pictures, in Jamaica, is budgeted at $2,700,000. And that's the cheapest we can make it. That's how much the cost of films has gone up in the last two or three years.

(Z: Why are all three of your Westerns so different?)

MH: When I made the first two Westerns, I was really trying to do something different because I thought everybody had already made all the traditional Westerns that needed to be made. So I decided to make a couple of anti-Westerns. And having done that, I got it out of my system. When it came to CHINA 9, LIBERTY 37 I really wanted to make a pro-Western, a traditional Western. And I guess I did it to the best of my ability. I think it didn't quite come out that way, but I gave it my best shot. (laughs.)

[The film Hellman was preparing was IGUANA (1988).]

Friday, May 28, 2010

Robert Woods on Sicily and stuff

From: That's With An "S" IV
An interview with, and a look at the films of, Robert Woods
by William Connolly
with research by Michael Ferguson, Tom Betts and Gordon Harmer
Spaghetti Cinema #53, June 1993

Robert Woods: (On MY NAME IS PECOS...) Demofilo Fidani did the costumes. Demofilo and Mila Fidani. They did the costumes and that sort of stuff. And he became very big.

WC: Fidani?

RW: Yeah, as Miles Deem. The guy released films in South America and made fortunes. I did his first film. They begged me to do for nothing. It was called PEONYS and it was a piece of garbage. I hated that film. And I die in the end, and in Naples they tore out the seats of the cinema and threw them at the screen, because you don't kill the hero. You just don't. Not in a Latin country. You just do not kill the hero.
That's Naples, though. The Southern Italians, man, they just, "Arrgh! This isn't what I want to see. I want him to win."
Rome and the South are kind of weird people; kind of strange people. Arab almost. I mean there's sort of this Arab influence.

WC: I understand that Italy and Sicily are almost like two different countries.

RW: Oh, yeah. Indeed.
I did a film in Yugoslavia, I can't remember the name of it, with Gianni Grimaldi.
And he was Siclian and I went down to visit then. I love Sicily. What a beautiful place. We went fishing all night, Elga Andersen and I. The lights on the water, and fish flying - the flying fish - and the moon. Ah, man it was great! It was great! It was one of those unforgettable experiences where even the smells around you; everything was sensual. Great time. Great time.

WC: And, of course, we have Sicily to thank for Claudia Cardinale.

RW: I've got a Claudia Cardinale story. I was sitting on the set with Hank Fonda one day when we were doing BATTLE OF THE BULGE and she was down doing something... She was down getting ready to do something, and somebody brought her in and introduced her to Fonda. And he introduced her to me. I hadn't met her either. And he talked; he was very congenial - Fonda's a great guy. And as she walked away, he said, "Beautiful girl."
And I said, "Yeah."
He said, "Fat ass."
She's got this huge butt, you know?
And that was shocking from Fonda, because he wouldn't usually do that.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sergio Corbucci on DUEL OF THE TITANS

From: Cine Zine Zone #50
Interview by Carlo Piazza, May 1989
Translated into French by Pierre Charles and then translated into English by Arcides Gonzales

Sergio Corbucci: Seeing it again, I wonder how I was able to do such a film, in the sense that today it wouldn't be possible to do it again. Not for financial reasons, as people think, but rather for technical reasons.
This film, received bad reviews at the time. Critics said that it resembled a Western; that the actors brandished the sword as if it were a gun.

CP: Yes, but at the time you stated, "I am shooting a Western."

SC: Well, true. Several sequences are really Western in style. The final scene, for example, when the Sabines appear high above like the Indians in a Western, is a Fordian reminiscence. The American Western was too important for our generation. We make them even when we don't want to.
As for ROMULUS AND REMUS, I have to say that I never had so many beautiful people at my disposal for a film: Reeves, Scott, Girotti, Sernas, Virna Lisi and Orenella Vanoni.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Robert Woods on MY NAME IS PECOS

From: That's With An "S" IV
An interview with, and a look at the films of, Robert Woods
by William Connolly
with research by Michael Ferguson, Tom Betts and Gordon Harmer
Spaghetti Cinema #53, June 1993

Robert Woods: I think I might have dubbed MY NAME IS PECOS, because I did some of them, but I was so busy that I have very little time... You'll find that most of the actors were so busy that they could not dub themselves. You'd have it in your contract; 'cause I always wanted to dub myself - I mean I do voice-overs and things like that, and I thought it was right to do things like that.
I dubbed alot of Brad Harris films, as a matter of fact.

WC: When I saw you in the makeup for Pecos, I wondered if you had had an accident. It looked rather odd.

RW: I liked the look; I liked the idea. You see, the whole thing about becoming an actor is... I like any kind of thing where you can... Okay, maybe I was playing myself with the Pecos makeup, but it was a way out of myself, you know? Acting for me is an escape. I'm not basically a shy person anyway, but I like to do something different. I played Ned in THE THREEPENNY OPERA and I liked it. I liked to be deformed, you know what I mean? I prefer that to being clean and...

WC: Was it a conscious idea in MY NAME IS PECOS to have the Mexican hero be sort-of a representative of the "Third World" getting back at the Ugly Americans?

RW: Of course. The whole thing about the Europeans is that they don't look at Americans as individuals; they look at us as a suppressive country, because we're the country in power. I mean I'm not kidding; we're very hated almost every where. If you learn the language, they respect you and like you more; you can get along with them, and everything works. I have alot of friends because of that. If you don't bother to learn the language, you're a hated individual or a collective society in Europe.
Many times I've sat in an outdoor cafe and heard Ugly Americans come in and say, "What the hell do you mean 30 thousand lira? We won the war."
And you just want to go: "Whoa...", you know? Or "back to Mom" or something. The worst feeling in the world is to watch Americans behave badly in a place that isn't their's, but Americans have this attitude that, "Hey, we won the war; it's our's, and you should bow-down to me. I'm American."

WC: I figured that that was probably why PECOS was so popular in places like Africa.

RW: Sure, that's why it was. Basically, it had a social message. There were a lot of these films that you might laugh and say they're campy and they're this and that, but they said a few things in those films. Not all of them... PECOS happened to one of them.