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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The other Eva Kant

The Italian Milanese sisters Angela and Luciana Giussani created in 1962 the fictional character ”Diabolik” as an anti-hero who steals from criminals by use of gadgets, tricks, deception and a set of lifelike masks. In the beginning he had no morality and killed to get his goal but over the course of the years this aspect has been softened. No hero, or in this case anti-hero, is as good as his cast so very soon at the beginning of his adventures the sister Giussani realised that telling stories about Diabolik and his robberies would get boring very quickly if they could not interact Diabolik with other characters, good or evil, to drive the stories forwards. So they created a recurring cast consisting of mainly Inspector Ginko and his girlfriend dutchess Altea di Vallenberg and a lot of other semi-regular characters like the little girl Bettina, who becomes friends with Diabolik and Eva.

In March 1963 with book #3 of the series “Il Arresto di Diabolik”, the sisters created the long-term female side-kick “Eva Kant” as lover, friend, complice and conscious for Diabolik. She is an attractive blond young woman from noble heritage known as “Lady Eva Kant, widow of Lord Kant”. The nobility was a hook for stories where Diabolik could steal jewels from the wealthy. That aspect was dropped through the years in favour of more hard core criminal stories with gangsters, drug lords, murderers, kidnappers, rapists…etc that readers liked to favour more.

What not many people know is that Eva Kant is not the first companion for Diabolik but his second. Another female character with the name “Elisabeth Gay”, modelled after the American actress Elisabeth Taylor, was some kind of partner for Diabolik in the first 2 issues of the series. Unfortunately Elisabeth was not, according to his creators, a good choice as counterpart for their hero so she had to go. Elisabeth betrayed Diabolik to inspector Ginko. In book #3 Eva Kant has a mysterious fascination for the dark hero and rescues him from the guillotine. As a reward the master criminal falls in love with her. In the next book #4 of April 1963 “Atroce Vendetta”, Elisabeth has to face the terrible revenge of Diabolik.

Eva Kant became the long time partner and mirror image for Diabolik. Diabolik drives a black Jaguar, type “E”. Eva Kant drives a white Jaguar, type “E”. Diabolik has short hair. Eva Kant has long hair. Diabolik has black hair. Eva Kant is blond. Diabolik wears a back mask and a one piece jump suit. Eva Kant wears no mask and a black sweater and pants. He is the burglar. She is the reason to steal the jewels, statues, money… whatever Eva Kant fancies for her enormous collection that she has build over the years.

Due to the enormous success of Diabolik in Italy in the 60’s, it wasn’t long that in 1967 a movie was produced with the title “Danger: Diabolik!”, loosely based on a few early stories of the comic book. After a long search, with candidates like Marilu Tolo, the producer Dino De Laurentiis decided that the French actress Catherine Deneuve would make an ideal Eva Kant opposite Diabolik played by John Phillip Law. During the course of the first few days of filming Mario Bava got agitated by her acting and diva like behaviour. He noticed that there was no chemistry between Law and her in the love scenes of the movie. Like in the comics, the first partner of Diabolik had to go.

Marisa Mell was, at that time starting to make a name in the international movie business with some highly visible movies like “Masquerade” with Cliff Robertson and Jack Hawkins, “Casanova 70” with Marcello Mastroianni and “Train d’enfer” with Jean Marais. She had the international appeal that Dino De Laurentiis was looking for to market his movie, not only in Italy but also internationally, especially in America.

Danger: Diabolik! was made in a period when spy movies were at an all time high thanks to the huge success of James Bond. A direct transfer from the serious Italian fumetti to the silver screen was a possibility but not chosen. High camp became the central focus of the movie! Marisa Mell, as a classical trained actress at the famous Max Reinhardt school of drama in Vienna, Austria, was able to bring this campy feeling to the movie. She had a terrific synergy with her onscreen partner John Phillip Law, just what Mario Bava was looking for. They were oozing sex on the silver screen.

The movie Eva Kant can not be compared to the comic book Eva Kant. The comic book version almost always has her hair in a bun while the movie version is wearing her hair straight. The comic book Eva Kant is not that sexual orientated as the movie version. Her wardrobe is often just plain 60's standard fair while the movie Eva has one sexy outfit next to the other. Who doesn't remember her sexy orange dress with clevage and black boots prior to the shower scene or the stunning black widow ensemble at the end of the movie while she mourns the death of Diabolik in his golden cage! Non of that in the comics. Character wise they are also very different in the two versions. The comic book character is rather strong in most of the stories unless her partner is in jail or prisoner of the gangster of the month. She than becomes weak and has a lot of doubts regarding her strength to free her partner which she eventually does each time! The movie Eva Kant is more of a sex toy for Diabolik and she is quit happy in that role. She has almost no identity of her own and her only aim in life is to please Diabolik. As a reward she gets the loot of the robberies.









Tuesday, July 22, 2008

From a time when smoking was still fashionable!

Marisa Mell was a child of the sixties. Born in 1939, she started her movie carreer at the end of the 1950's early 1960's, so it was fashionable at that time for women to start smoking like men did for centuries! Marisa Mell was no exception! She loved smoking and did smoke a lot. You could even ask when did she not smoke! Even in the last years of her life, before the diagnoses of throat cancer, cigarettes were often her only companion in harsh times! Her favorite brand was the German brand "HB", short for "Haus Bergmann"! HB cigarettes belonged to the ten top-selling brands in Germany at that time with a market share of 3,5%. From 1959 untill 1984, HB was the market leader among the German brands, 1975 even the market leader in entire Europe. Today, HB cigarettes are not advertised anymore due to government regulations in most of the European countries but despite this fact, HB smokers still stick to "their" brand which causes HB still being a long seller. Marisa Mell did not only smoke in private but also smoked in several of her movies like Venusberg in 1963, French Dressing in 1964, Train d'enfer in 1965, New York chiama Super Dragon in 1966, Objectif 500 millions in 1966 and Les Belles au bois dormantes in 1969.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mario Bava - Italian Horror Film Maestro Celebrated In Colorful Biography

Career of influential cult director Mario Bava becomes the work of a lifetime by noted genre expert Tim Lucas

"Tim Lucas has devoted himself to getting the word out about Bava's greatness," writes film director Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas, The Departed) in his Introduction to Mario Bava All the Colors of the Dark (Video Watchdog), "[and] this book is the pinnacle of his efforts."

Indeed, in this massive critical biography -- the product of interviews with more than 100 colleagues, friends and family members, and 32 years in the making -- Lucas explores in unprecedented detail the life and legacy of one of the most original, influential, and secretive filmmakers of the 20th century.

Best known as the maestro of many aggressively cinematic, candy-colored Italian horror and fantasy films (Black Sunday, Black Sabbath, Danger: Diabolik), Mario Bava spent the first twenty years of his career as one of Italy's leading cinematographers, during which time he was helped to cultivate the screen personas of such actors as Aldo Fabrizi, Gina Lollobrigida, and Steve Reeves. He was literally present at the beginning of each new form of cinema native to his country, from operettas to neorealism to sword and sandal movies to Spaghetti Westerns. Most importantly, he was the principal visionary behind the Golden Age of Italian fantasy, which lasted from 1957 until his death in 1980.



Now, for the first time in any language, Lucas explores Bava's first two decades of cinematographic achievement, as well as his next two decades as a director whose work has been acknowledged as a major influence by such filmmakers as Scorsese, Tim Burton, Quentin Tarantino, Joe Dante, and Guillermo del Toro. In the course of his research, Lucas discovered that Bava often contributed uncredited direction, photography or special effects to the films of friends in need, and provides entire chapters of documentation elucidating this "Secret Filmography." Also included is the story of Mario's father and mentor Eugenio Bava, a silent film cameraman and the father of Italian special effects, who rose from contributing set decoration to Pathe Frères shorts to photographing Quo Vadis?, from creating special effects for Cabiria to an executive wartime position in Mussolini's film factory, the Istituto LUCE. The cumulative result is not just the story of "the supreme visual poet of the Italian gothic cinema" (The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror), but a century-long family saga that occupies the first hundred years of Italian popular cinema -- a history not previously explored in English in such detail.

A staggering, 12-pound labor of love, interweaving biography, history and criticism, Mario Bava All the Colors of the Dark consists of 1128 pages of four-columned type (nearly 800,000 words!), fully illustrated with well over 1000 stills and annotated poster art from all over the world, most in full color and all subjected to a three-year process of meticulous digital restoration. Included are never-before-published family photos, documents, and drawings by Bava himself, and an eye-popping array of images that Bava fans never expected to see: a wealth of color shots taken on the set of the B&W classic Black Sunday, the only photos taken of Catherine Deneuve while briefly cast as the female lead in Danger: Diabolik, and dozens of pictures of the notoriously camera-shy director himself. The extensive appendices include filmographies for Mario and Eugenio Bava, international discography and videography, name and film title indexes, and a generous gallery of storyboard art by Bava, including his complete art for an unproduced 1970s project, Baby Kong. With an Introduction by Martin Scorsese and a Foreword by the late Italian director Riccardo Freda, Mario Bava All the Colors of the Dark marks an exciting new development in the fields of film-related biography and book-making. Simply to page through this remarkable tome, as overpoweringly visual as any of Bava's own films, is to feel like you're watching an epic film.

Mario Bava All the Colors of the Dark is available from Video Watchdog at http://www.bavabook.blogspot.com/.

Video Watchdog, PO Box 5283, Cincinnati OH 45205-0283, http://www.bavabook.blogspot.com/, 1-800-275-8395 or 513-297-1855.

Hardcover, clothbound, gold stamping on front and spine Dimensions in inches: 10.85w x 11.87h x 2.63d Dimensions in centimeters: 27.6w x 30.1h x 6.7d Full-color French-fold laminated dust jacket Full-color end papers 1128 Glossy, full-color pages Binding: stitched, extra-reinforced, roundback12 lbs (5.45 kgs)
ISBN: 0-9633756-1-X

PRAISE

"Exhaustive, perceptive... This book deserves a place on the bookshelves of all serious film lovers." -- Martin Scorsese, director of Goodfellas and The Departed

"It's absolutely mind-boggling! I don't know what Mario Bava would have made of all this, but wherever he is, he must be blushing Technicolor crimson... and very proud." -- Joe Dante, director of Gremlins and The Howling

"No one knew the circles of Hell like Bava, and in Tim Lucas we have found our perfect Virgil." -- Guillermo del Toro, director of Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim Lucas is the editor and co-publisher of the award-winning monthly Video Watchdog, The Perfectionist's Guide to Fantastic Video. His articles, essays, and criticism have appeared in dozens of magazines in America and abroad, including Film Comment, Cahiers du Cinema, American Cinematographer, Fangoria and Cinefex. He is also a published novelist (Throat Sprockets, The Book of Renfield) and comics writer (Taboo), a DVD audio commentator, an award-winning blogger (Video WatchBlog), and a monthly columnist for the British magazine Sight and Sound.

Tim Lucas - All the Colors of the Dark

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Le dolci signore - Belgian poster anyone?

Before the existence of the internet, production companies had to promote their movies with the means of that time at their disposal. In the 60's and 70's it was mainly through the printed media with posters, flyers, leaflets, pressbooks, lobby-cards... Each movie had several versions of their posters mostly painted or drawn with the most alluring scene's of the movie as a focus. In the mid '80's the production companies used more and more movie stills to compose their posters and the art of movie poster drawing disappeared in the background. Using stills was much cheaper then appointing and paying an artist to draw the posters. Who doesn't know the stunning drawings of Robert McGinnis with his posters for the James Bond movies with Sean Connery which are etched in our subconcious for ever. So having an eye catching poster was of the utmost importance and could often make or break a movie. Therefore almost always the production company told the foreign distributors what kind of movie poster they were allowed to produce in their home markets to sell the movie to the audience. Most American layouts were re-styled to fit the needs of the local foreign market. It was often the American poster with the foreign title and a re-arranging of the eye-catchers of the original American poster. Although this was true for most countries in the world there was one country that had it's own policy of promoting a movie: Belgium. Since the beginning of the movie history Belgium had a front runners role with people like Pierre Plateau and his Fenakistiscoop in 1831 which became the basis for the movie industry or a first showing of a movie by the brothers Lumière in Brussels, the capital of Belgium in 1896. Belgium was also in the centre of the Art Nouveau movement at that time with Victor Horta so when the two art forms, movies and art movement, found each other they produced some stunning examples of movie poster art. This tradition was carried over to the 60's and 70's and was never questioned by American production companies. For the Belgian market a new layout was drawn by mostly Belgian artists whom became masters in their craft. The Belgian poster is mostly in a horizontal style and has two titles, one in Flemish, the language of the majority of the Belgian people and French. Because most American production companies had their European seat in Paris (France) the translations of the (American) titles of the movies was often literally which often didn't correspond with the Flemish language and had a funny meaning to the Flemish people. A classic example is the Garry Cooper movie "High Noon" which becomes "De Trein Zal Drie Maal Fluiten" in Flemish or "The Train Will Whistle Three Times". So the Italian title "Le dolce signore" meaning "The Sweet Gentlemen" referring to the adulterous affaires of the married women in the movie becomes in English "Anyone can play", in French "Pas folles les mignonnes" and in Flemish "Niet gek de schatjes" meaning "Not crazy the cute ones". Nevertless the Belgian poster for "Le dolci signore" with Marisa Mell is one of the best Belgian posters with the stunning faces of Marisa Mell, Ursula Andress, Virna Lisi and Claudine Auger. The faces are life like drawn and have a realistic feel to it. Most of the faces and figures on other Belgian posters are drawn in a cartoon kind of way and not very realistic. Because the movie has no real action scenes, they are missing on the poster so you get only the four faces of the main actresses, their names, the director and color process and titles in the two languages and that's it. Plain and simple! Maybe to simple because the film was not a hit and got lost in the depth of oblivion!


In contrast to this poster is the poster of the French movie "Angelique" with French cult star Michèle Mercier as the heroine. In my opinion this is one of the most beautiful erotic and attractive Belgian movie posters ever made.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

No chemicals on my hair!

In 1963 Marisa Mell had already 10 roles on her C.V. in Germany and her native Austria. It was now time to start an international carreer. She landed the part of Françoise Fayol in Ken Russel's 1964 movie "French Dressing", a British production about a deck-chair attendant at a British fictional resort promoting a film festival featuring a French blond sexpot. Not an important part but it was an international production in the UK. So the German teenage magazine "Bravo" put her on the cover of their August 06, 1963 issue (nr. 32). In a little article in the back of the magazine Bravo told their readers that Marisa Mell was now shooting a movie in England and was refusing to dye her hair blond as the producers asked. Marisa's argument was that she didn't want to damage her beautiful thick brown hair with chemicals. A blond wig was the only solution. As seen on the cover of the June, 1964 issue of "ABC Film Review" it was a horrible looking thing that ruined her personality as an actress and her credibility as character in the movie. The film was a disaster! Wearing a blond wig during her carreer would not be restricted to French Dressing alone. A few years later in 1967 under the direction of Mario Bava, Marisa Mell would replace the real blond French actress Catherine Deneuve as Eva Kant in the movie Danger: Diabolik!. In the Italian fumetti Diabolik, the partner of the master criminal, Lady Eva Kant was a beautiful blond women of aristocracy! So the actress had also to be blond in the movie but again Marisa did not give in to become blond. "No chemicals on my hair!" For the second time a wig had to turn a dark haired Marisa into a blond haired Eva Kant. This time the wig was of much better quality and had a much more natural look and feeling. At the end of the shooting Marisa got so fond of the wig that she took it home as a souvenir. Strangely enough it would not be the end of the now famous wig. Two years later the wig appeared again in the 1967 Italian film "Una sull'altra" by director Lucio Fulci. In this giallo Marisa played a double role and her character had to have blond hair to make a distinction for her other character. At the end of the movie, the wig had even a crucial role in the plot with a twist ending.



Danger: Diabolik - Trailer (Mario BAVA)



Una sull'altra - Marisa Mell Striptease (Lucio FULCI)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Marisa Mell's Filmography - Theatre - Discography - Book

FILMOGRAPHY

1954 - Das Licht der Liebe / Wenn du noch eine Mutter hast
1959 - Das Nachtlokal zum Silbermond
1960 - Der brave Soldat Schwejk
1960 - Am Galgen hängt die Liebe
1960 - Wegen Verführung Minderjähriger
1961 - Lebensborn
1961 - Ruf der Wildgänse
1962 - Das Rätsel der roten Orchidee
1962 - Dr.
1963 - Venusberg
1963 - French Dressing
1964 - Ein Mann im schönsten Alter
1964 - Der letzte Ritt nach Santa Cruz
1964 - Masquerade
1964 - Casanova '70
1965 - Diamond Walkers
1965 - City of Fear
1965 - Train d'enfer
1966 - New York chiama Superdrago
1966 - Objectif: 500 millions
1966 - Che notte, ragazzi!
1967 - Danger: Diabolik
1968 - Stuntman
1968 - Le dolci signore
1969 - Una sull'altra
1969 - Les belles au bois dormantes
1970 - Senza via d'uscita
1971 - Elisabeth von Österreich (TV)
1971 - Historia de una traición
1971 - Amico, stammi lontano almeno un palmo
1971 - Das Rätsel des silbernen Halbmonds
1972 - Tutti fratelli nel west... per parte di padre
1972 - Magic Graz
1972 - Alta tensión
1973 - Bella, ricca, lieve difetto fisico cerca anima gemella
1973 - Pena de muerte
1973 - Milano rovente
1974 - La moglie giovane
1974 - Parapsycho - Spektrum der Angst
1975 - Amori, letti e tradimenti
1975 - La encadenada
1975 - Mahogany
1975 - L'ultima volta
1976 - El taxista de señoras
1976 - Casanova & Co
1977 - Febbre a 40!
1977 - La belva col mitra
1977 - Es muß nicht immer Kaviar sein (TV)
1978 - La profezia
1979 - Un ombra nell'ombra
1979 - Sam and Sally (TV)
1980 - La Compagna di viaggio
1980 - Peccati a Venezia
1980 - Traficantes de pánico
1980 - La liceale al mare con l'amica di papà
1981 - La dottoressa preferisce i marinai
1982 - Il Commissionario (TV)
1983 - Corpi nudi
1983 - In Zeiten wie diesen (TV)
1983 - Kottan ermittelt (TV)
1984 - Seifenblasen
1984 - Heiße Wickel - kalte Güsse (TV)
1985 - L'ultimo giorno
1985 - Simsalabimbambum (TV)
1990 - Sensazioni d'amore
1990 - Quest for the Mighty Sword
1991 - I Love Vienna
1996 - Jackie Brown (Clips from "La belva col mitra")

THEATRE

1966 - Mata Hari (Broadway)
1983 - Das Eheterzett (Theatre Tour in Germany)
1986 - How the Other Half Loves (Vienna English Theatre)
1989 - Orvieto (in Graz)
1990 - Love Letters (Vienna English Theatre)

EXHIBITION

1988 - Marisa Mell Gemälde (Exhibition in the Grazer Hauptpost)

DISCOGRAPHY

1981 - Lady O - Slave of Love (Single)(Jupiter Records)

BOOK
Marisa Mell - Coverlove. Autobiographie. Graz-Wien 1990

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Disclaimer

The content and topics discussed on "Marisa Mell-Honoring her life and work" are intended for informational and/or entertainment use only. The opinions expressed are those solely of the author, unless otherwise stated/quoted. Most images are found via basic public search engines or from the personal collection of the author and are used for commentary purposes and to put a ‘face’ to the topic being discussed. Images are not used for commercial purposes.Disclaimer valid as of July 1, 2008 © Copyright. All rights reserved.