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Thursday, September 17, 2009

"Le Cinema Bis" dans le "Cinema de Quartier"

Since relocating to Rome (Italy) during the mid sixties, Marisa Mell had a steady stream of work in mostly Italian movies. Unfortunately, the movies she appeared in were not A-list movies like her last one "Casanova 70" with Marcello Mastroianni but movies that the European audience called "Cinema Bis" movies. Movies that copied one way or the other successful A-list movies from Europe or America in the hope to jump in on the band wagon of success with little investment and huge earnings. "Una Sull'Altra" from 1969 directed by Lucio Fulci was one of those cinema bis movies and is regarded by many fans of Marisa Mell as one of her best. This movie has an intriguing plot about some kind of ménage à trois with Marisa Mell at the centre and her co-stars Jean Sorel and Elsa Martinelli as her partners in crime and bed. The movie was released in France on August 21st, 1970. The title was changed into "Perversion Story", to make it more sleazy and kinky. During the 60's untill the rise of the video cassette and multiplex cinema's, every neighbourhood in Paris had one or more local cinema's (Le Cinema de Quartier). One of the most prominent cinema de quartier "Le Moulin Rouge Cinema", situated next to the world famous night and revue club "Le Moulin Rouge", had this movie on its billboard in the summer of 1970.The Moulin Rouge was built in 1888. It burned down in 1915 and was not rebuilt until 1925. The new building included a winter garden, cabaret, and an Art Deco auditorium where Mistinguet, a famous French cabaret star, did her now famous shows. In 1929 the theatre was converted to a cinema, and until around 1940 also sometimes had live shows as well. Around 1950 a major refurbishing of the entire building created a cinema with 1500 seats and a huge screen, a new cabaret named Locomotive, and under the movie theatre, a new cabaret Moulin Rouge with a seperate entrance (the actual floor show place). In 1970 the Locomotive became a 600 stadium seating-style cinema called the Paramount Montmartre, which was triplexed in the 80's. The 1500 seat auditorium after a period of showing first run movies became difficult to run in the 80's, the beginning of the multiplex era in Paris. After a new policy showing 70mm prints on its huge screen, it closed around 1990. It is now a place to rent for fashion shows, movies, tv programs, and rehearsals.The three others screens also closed around 1990 and became a night club named once again Locomotive. The famous cabaret Moulin Rouge uses the most important space in the building.

Since the sixties the term "Cinema Bis" has become a household name. Many European film fanatics love these films from that era and remember with fondness how they as a youth often sneaked into the local movie theaters to see all those forbidden fruits. So it is wonderfull to notice that the history of the Cinema Bis is not forgotten by French author Laurent Aknin. He has written two phantastic books about cinema bis in French called "50 Ans de Cinema de Quartier"(350 pages) and "Les Classiques du Cinema Bis" (550 pages). The first retelling the 50 year history of those cinema's, the second giving an overview of the most famous, notorious and scandalous cinema bis movies. They are also great jumping on points as a cinema bis movie index. So both books should be part of every cinema bis lover's personal library! The books are not cheap to buy but have a great production value with a lot of vintage photo's, lobby cards, press books...etc. Highly recommended.

5 comments:

Keith said...

Great post. I love Perversion Story. That's one of her first movies I saw. I enjoyed learning more in this post. Have a wonderful weekend.

Stephanie said...

What a great post! I think the two books on le cinema bis would be very interesting to read to know more about these types of films.

Wyatt Doyle said...

That massive display in the mall is gorgeous! I've seen many variations on that film's promotional art, but I don't think I've seen that before - was it ever used on an actual poster?

Also, is that photo from some recent exhibition? The setting does not appear to be 1969...

Mirko di Wallenberg said...

Hi Wyatt Doyle, the green "Una Sull'Altra" poster is one of two rare promotion posters depicting the scene between Marisa Mell and Elsa Martinelli. The dark blue poster is the most common one less rarer and best known among fans of the movie! The green poster is also my favorite. The picture in the mall is a computer generated composite picture. Sorry, no exhibition!

Wyatt Doyle said...

HA! Nicely done, Mirko!