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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Body Double with Helmut Berger

Marisa Mell and Helmut Berger, both from Austria, knew each other several years, before they became lovers between 1976 and 1978. Before that Helmut Berger had a long term almost marriage like gay relationship with the world famous Italian director Luchino Visconte (1906-1976) which ended with the sudden death of the director. After his death Helmut Berger became desperate not knowing what to do with his professional and personal life. This was also made worst by the fact that Visconte did not made a testament during his life so Helmut Berger did not inherit anything from the Visconte estate and the Visconte family dropped him after the funeral. During this difficult period he was helped by mostly Ursula Andress, Romy Schneider and... Marisa Mell. They were his closest friends. It was during this time of intimacy that they probably became lovers. Helmut Berger had always been very open about his sexuality and his equal preferance for women and... men. The affair was very prominent in the yellow press at that time. In 1977 they both starred in the Italian action movie "La Belva col mitra", famous for the rape scene of Marisa Mell by Helmut Berger. To promote the movie the couple made an even more notorious photo shoot for Italian Playboy as lovers in the same bed room at the Moderno Hotel in Ancona where the sex scenes for the movie were filmed. This photo shoot went around the world and made headline's everywhere. The Belgian movie magazine Cine Revue picked the photos up for its July 7th 1977 cover and issue. It was one of it's biggest selling issues to that date.
(Note: I got a lot of requests for this shoot in the last months from people who wanted to see these notorious pictures. I have no problem in showing full frontal nudity because in Europe people are not prude and accept their bodies and sexuality as a natural fact. But... in regard to this blog I find it, for me, in respect to Marisa Mell, unacceptable to show her in full frontal nudity, even knowing that she was quite comfortable showing her nude body and the photo shoot was originally made in full frontal nudity by both actors with their agreement. So therefor I have covered her most intimate part with an orange butterfly.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Es muss nicht immer Kaviar sein!

„Die tolldreisten Abenteuer und auserlesensten Kochrezepte des Geheimagenten wider Willen Thomas Lieven.“ (The most daring adventures and most selected recepies of secret agent against his will Thomas Lieven.) This was the first sentence of a the German book called "Es muss nicht immer Kaviar sein" (It must not always be caviar!) written by Austrian bestseller author Johannes Mario Simmel in 1960.
The book tells the adventures of a bank teller Thomas Lieven during World War II and the tricks he uses to stay out of the clutches of the different secret services on both sides of the front. His motto was: "I would like to live in peace, have a good meal and adore beautiful women!". A good meal for him was Boeuf Stroganoff and beautiful women he got plenty during the course of the war in the book but living in peace was not going to happen untill the end of the war!

The book was a huge success in German speaking countries with many translations in other languages. The success was mostly thanks to the tongue in cheek approach of the World War II story in the same vein as the World War I story of "Der Brave Soldat Sjweik". And with almost each successfull book or play soon after it's publication it would be made into a film or a television series. Already in 1961 the movie was filmed in two parts "Es muss nicht immer Kaviar sein!" and "Diesmal muss es Kaviar sein!" (This time it must be caviar!) with O.W. Fisher as Thomas Lieven and other female movie stars like Eva Bartok (famous for her role in Mario Bava's "Blood and Black Lace") as Vera and Senta Berger (famous for her role in a "Man from U.N.C.L.E-episode and film and a part in the movie "The Testament of Dr. Mabuse) as Chantal. The movies were not very faithfull adaptations of the book but are now quite fun to see not only for the story which is rather amusing but also for the high Euro-cult connections with all the former stars from that era!

In 1977 the second German state television "Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen" (ZDF), in a coproduction with film production company "CCC Television" found it time to make a 13 part television series from the book for her evening programming. The part of Thomas Lieven would now be played by German television actor Siegfried Rauch and Marisa Mell as his love intrest Chantal, member of the French resistance against the German occupation of France. The series was filmed in 1976 at the Berlin Union Film studios. The series ran from wednesday May 11th until wednesday October 19th 1977. Marisa Mell plays in the parts 4, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the series. Because the hero of the series loves to cook the producers found nothing better than to close each episode with a recepy made by Siegfried Rauch. Although it had great production values the series was in the beginning not quite a complete success but during the course of its run the German audience opened their hearts to it and in the end embraced it. Even the recepies of the series were collected into a cook book, which became a bestseller. Today the series is regarded as one of the great high lights of German television in the 70's. In 1984 the ZDF did a re-run of the series with even more success because the audience now understood the tongue in cheek approach of the series and the book.

And with a lot of good stuff, the best comes at the end! In this case, ZDF in coproduction with Studio Hamburg are releasing a series of DVD's called "Strassenfeger" with all the best krimi's from the 60's and 70's. "Es muss nicht immer Kaviar sein" is number 09 in the series! Street date was December 5th 2008. It is the first time ever that this series with Marisa Mell appeares on DVD in high definition quality. It is in German only but... it has Marisa Mell's own voice on it with her Austrian accent! So no horrible dubbing! This alone is a reason for owning the DVD because most of Marisa Mell's movies have been dubbed! The DVD is region "2" coded so you need to have a universal DVD player but now everyone else in the world, besides the Germans, can see this series and see Marisa Mell in another incarnation than the roles she played in the movies.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Diabolikal Partner

The Italian editorial home and publisher "Astorina" of the fumetti cult anti-hero "Diabolik" has realised that, not only their icon is still very popular in Italy and the world, but also his partner in crime since ages "Lady Eva Kant"! Since a few years, they not only publish next to their monthly title Diabolik an annual dedicated to their main character but also annual stories with Eva Kant as the main character.

To honor this event they created a seperate website next to the main Diabolik website ( with the entire history and back log of Eva Kant's life in the fumetti's, print, media, movie... and so much more. (

Astorina, together with their commercial webmaster, has really put some thought into it to make this site a feast for the fan and the causal reader. You can see the historical surroundings from the creative birth of the character untill today.

It is an ideal mix of words and pictures. The site does not collapse, like so many other websites, under it's own lay-out often being heavy on words or pictures. It is like reading a book, not on paper, but on your PC. The advantage over a paper book is that you can really dive into the pages of this site. At the bottom of each page you have a control bar so you can navigate in the page, not only up and down, left or right but can also blow up the pages to better see the pictures or photo's on it. The only negative point is that these pages and the entire site are only in Italian but that is understandable from the editor's point of view. The main target audience of Diabolik are the Italian readers who buy each every month since 1963 their titles and not the English language markets. Nevertheless, due to still growing popularity of the Mario Bava movie "Danger: Diabolik!" it would be nice to also cater to the English language readers in the world. Maybe this will happen in the future! Speaking of the Diabolik movie, there is also a nice entry regarding this film and it's stars "John Phillip Law" as Diabolik and "Marisa Mell" as Eva Kant.

The information about the movie is some general information that if you are fan of the movie you already know. So nothing new in that department. Even the photo used of Marisa Mell in her movie Eva Kant outifit is a generally known picture. It would haven been nice to see a little less known picture or even a behind the scene one of Marisa Mell.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

How about that?

On august 31, 2008 I wrote an item for this blog about Angelo Frontoni, Master of Light on Paper. He was one of the best photographers in his time in Italy. Marisa Mell was one of his much photographed subjects. (If you want to read the whole story you can look it up in the archive section of august 2008.)

So the other day I was looking through the auctions on Ebay for items that I collect and stumbled on this auction for a press photo of the actress Monica Vitti.

And scrolling down the page I found this little paragraph regarding the photographer of the picture and it is, lo and behold, Angelo Frontoni known as the "master of light".

As you can see and compare the above text is lifted from my item on the blog and has been a little rewritten to match the photo and auction necessities. How about that?

Monday, December 1, 2008

And now... a commercial break with LUX

In 1964 Marisa Mell was still only known in German speaking countries like Germany and her native Austria but her star was on the rise, especially with a contract to do a British movie called "French Dressing" to be directed by Ken Russell. So it wasn't strange that she caught the attention of the advertising world. One of her first ad's was for the soap brand Lux. This ad is rather special for several reasons: 1) contrary to almost all other Lux ad's with actresses this one with Marisa Mell has a side view of her and not a front view. Most of the actresses do not like their faces to be shot in a photo shoot from their sides because they don't like their noses or the silhouettes of their faces. So photo's of these women are almost always taken from the front. Marisa Mell was at that time regarded as such a classic beauty with an almost Greek statue like face that the campaign was build around her side view; 2) the brand Lux was at that time such a well known name that the connection of an actress and the word "Lux" was enough to make the link with the soap and 3) the ad has the autograph of Marisa Mell at the bottom of the page. This ad proves that the way she writes her stage name in an autograph was there from the beginning of her career and has been unchanged untill the end of her life which is rather exceptional because writing and autographs tend to change during the life of a person due to the changing of his or her personality when becoming older and more mature.
In 60's Europe, it wasn't very common to do ad's with movie stars in it contrary to the US which had a longer tradition. One of the reasons was that European movie stars thought it to be cheap to do commercials and advertisments next to their movie careers just like it was not done as a movie star to do television at that time. Times haves changed and now they all do it for the money almost as a main occupation with a movie career as a side track. One of the few exceptions in Europe at that time was the soap brand "Lux". Almost from the beginning of their existence starting in the 1930's, Lux concentrated on placing actresses on their ads like Lana Turner or Jane Wyman. More than 400 actresses untill now have lent their faces for a Lux ad. Even Paul Newman did one.
"Lux" soap was first launched in the UK in 1899 as a flaked version of Sunlight soap and in the US in 1916, where it was marketed as a laundry soap targeted specifically at 'delicates'. The producer of this soap were Lever Brothers who encouraged women to home launder their clothes without fear of satins and silks being turned yellow by harsh lyes that were often used in soaps at the time. The flake-type soap allowed the manufacturer some leeway from lye because it did not need to be shaped into traditional cake-shaped loaves as other soaps were. The result was a gentler soap that dissolved more readily and was advertised as suitable for home laundry use. The name "Lux" was chosen as the latin word for "light" and because it was suggestive of "luxury."
Lux is now owned by giant Unilever and is still a strong seller in the soap market especially in Asian markets like India, Nepal and Pakistan. In those countries with millions of poor people who are dreaming of a better life, the soap Lux has still an aura of wealth and richness when you are able to buy and use it in your day to day use.

Therefore the brand is heavely advertised by actresses from Bollywood, the Indian movie industry. Although at the moment, Lux's ambassador in India is actress Pryanka Chopra, the biggest seller of all time is another Bollywood star and regarded as "the most beautiful women in the world": Aishwarya "Ash" Rai.

Once a former Miss India and Miss World, the 35 year actress has already more than 40 movies on her resumé during her 13 year career. At one time, during the Pierce Brosnan-era of James Bond Aishwarya Rai was rumored to be in the running to become a number 1 Bond girl in one of his last movies. Although she admits that it was only a rumor, her greatest wish is to become a world movie star next to her Bollywood career. So becoming a Bond girl would have placed her in the spotlight. Maybe she gets another chance with the new James Bond Daniel Craig when he needs another Lux glamor girl at his side to be rescued.