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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Masquerade (100th Entry)

Last monday, July 27th, the Marisa Mell Blog celebrated its 1st anniversary. Today the blog got its 100th entry. Whew, I never thought to reach this number after only 52 weeks, almost two entries every week! And as they say: "The best is yet to come!" For this special occassion, I thought to enter something new for this blog! I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it! So without further delay "curtains open"!


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mata Hari-Time Magazine, December 8th 1967

Merrick Shoots Mata
Friday, Dec. 08, 1967
In a world where the popular image of a spy alternates between gadget-crammed fantasy and faceless seediness, can Mata Hari, the cooch-dancing agent of World War I, carry a lavish musical on her bare shoulders?
Producer David Merrick thought so — to the tune of an $800,000 investment, plus Hollywood's Vincente Minnelli to direct, plus a buildup for curvaceous star Marisa Mell that included coverage in Vogue and McCall's. But Merrick was wrong. After a ludicrous Washington preview at which everything from the scenery to the sound system came apart at the seams, Mata Hari opened to lethal reviews.
Last week Producer Merrick, who modestly describes himself as "the most vital force in the theater today," decided once again that mortality is sometimes the better part of vitality. He decreed that Mata Hari would have to be shot before opening on Broadway. Last year he similarly closed Breakfast at Tiffany's, losing a mere $400,000.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sari

In the spring of 1991, a year before her death, Marisa Mell made a trip to India sponsored by some female friends because she was without means at that time. The land, its culture, religion and traditions made an enormous impression on her. She fell immediately in love with the whole spiritual atmosphere of the country. Once back in Austria, her native country, where she was living again, after having left Italy as a poor women, she wanted to keep the uplifting energy of India in her life. She started to wear in public the traditional Indian garnment for women: the Sari.
A Sari (also called Saree or Shari) is a female garment as a strip of unstitched cloth, ranging from four to nine metres in length that is draped over the female body in various styles. The most common style is for the Sari to be wrapped around the waist, with one end then draped over the shoulder baring the midriff. The Sari is usually worn over a petticoat (called pavada/pavadai in the south, and shaya in eastern India), with a blouse (called a choli or ravika) forming the upper garment. The choli has short sleeves and a low neck and is usually cropped, and as such is particularly well-suited for wear in the sultry South Asian summers. Cholis may be "backless" or of a halter neck style. The Sari is now an important symbol of india. In her book "Marisa", written by her long time friend Erika Pluhar, this phase in Marisa Mell's life is mentioned as follows: "...Wieder sahen wir gemeinsam einen Theaterauftritt von Marlies, das Zweipersonenstück "Love Letters". Marlies, nochmals um einiges schlanker geworden, trägt ein indisches Gewand, einen Sari, und darunter ein eng anliechendes Leibchen. Dazwichen ist ein weinig Haut zu sehen, ein weinig zu weisse, zu weiche Haut. "Warum kommt sie uns jetzt auf indisch?" fragt E. erstaunt. "Auf der Bühne sah sie ganz normal aus". "Sie liebt Indien", antworte ich, und meine Tochter is sofort zur Stelle, Marlies ritterlich zu verteidigen. "Ausserdem schaut sie schön aus in so was", sagt sie und wirft E. einen strengen Blick zu, "warum soll sie keinen Sari anhaben-". Wir nähern uns jetzt Marlies. Als sie mich begrüsste, fühle ich, dass sie befangen ist. "Bin ich blöd angezogen?" fragt sie mich leise. "Ich habe nicht bedacht, wie Phantasielos fade hier alle Leute sind - in Rom würde ich nicht auffallen." "Aber was", sage ich "dieses Goldgelb und Rot sieht prächtig aus." (Free translation: ... Again we are together in a theater for a performance by Marlies (= civil name of Marisa Mell), the play is a two person play called "Love Letters". Marlies has again become a lot leaner, wears an Indian outfit, a Sari, with underneath a narrow shirt. In between is some skin to see, a skin a little to white and to soft. "Why does she do India now?", asks E. surprised (= boy friend of author Erika Pluhar at that time) . On the stage she looked quite normal". "She loves India", I reply, and my daughter is now on the spot chivalrously defending Marlies. "And she looks beautiful in it, so what?", she says, and looks stern at E., "why should she not wear a Sari?". We are now approaching Marlies. When she greets me, I feel that she is worried: "Am I stupid dressed?", she asks me quietly. "I did not realize how bland and unimaginative people all are here - in Rome, I would not draw attention." "Don"t worry", I say "this golden yellow and red looks beautiful on you.") The above picture of Marisa Mell was taken by a journalist during an evening meal after a performance of her play "Love Letters". To my knowledge, this is the only existing picture of Marisa Mell in a Sari during that period of her life!

Monday, July 6, 2009

"You are a great read"-Award

Monday mornings are often a struggle to start the week after a great weekend! This monday morning was an exception to the rule. My fellow blogger Keith from the excellent blog "The Dino Lounge" has awarded the "You are a great read" Award to the Marisa Mell Blog. The award is given to blogs by bloggers recognizing a good balance between pictures and informative accompanying texts. What makes this award also special is that there are upon thousands and thousands of blogs on the Net but your fellow blogger thinks that your blog could be an example for other bloggers or new bloggers who are entering the field on how to publish a blog. Starting a blog is easy but to keep a blog interesting each and every day, week or month of the year is another question. You can only do it if you have subcombed to the magic of blogging. An addiction! So, thanks, Keith for the honor. Keith's great blogs can be visited by these links! If you are a fan of everything Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr... and you would like to see each day a new picture of these cool Rat Pack members than there is only one site: http://coolnessistimeless.blogspot.com/ . Keith has also another daily site devoted to the stunningly beautiful ladies of yesteryear like Ursula Andress, Brigitte Bardot, Christina Lindberg, Daliah Lavi, Edwige Fenech, and lots and lots more than there is again only one site: http://lotsofsugarandspice.blogspot.com/ .
The tradition with this award and some other awards is to give the award to another fellow blogger that you admire for the work he/she has done. After concideration and in no particular order here are my three blogs that I would like to give the "You are a great read"-Award.
First, there is the always entertaining "MYA"-blog "http://myadvd.blogspot.com/" solely dedicated to a relatively new DVD label publishing Italian movies that have never been published before on DVD or making some older movies again available for a new generation. In these harsh times I find it very courageous to start a new DVD label while a lot of the other companies are quiting the once blooming market. Mya offers each month several new releases and that should be supported by all the fans of Italian genre movies!

Another great blog, just like the Mya-Blog, is still rather new, but has gained a lot of followers in the past months and is called http://westernsallitaliana.blogspot.com/. This blog is a real treasure trove of information regarding everything Italian Western movies and its stars. I have said it more than once that I am big fan of everything Italian Westerns and this blog gives us so much info that you can wander around for many hours without getting tired or sun burned. The blog not only gives reviews and info on films but also goes into the lives and sadly the deaths of many former stars. When reading the blog you can feel the vast knowledge of the author and love he has for everything Western all Italiana. And last but not least, this blog is a true work of love. http://www.reeldistraction.com/ gives you a glimpse into the fascinating world of the press book ads published in newspapers during a run of a movie. This blog gives you the news paper ads of classic vintage movies, not only of the A-list titles like the Exorcist or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid but mostly of the Grindhouse classics like Dirty Mary Crazy Larry or Swinging Sorority and many many more. Terrific blog!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

And now...a commercial break with J&B

“J&B Whisky” is a scotch blended whisky. The “J&B-Rare Blend”, the standard J&B whisky brand, is a blend of 42 Scottish malt and grain whiskies. Its charactaristic green bottle with yellow and red label are world wide known but if you ask people, even ardent J&B-drinkers, what the abbreviation “J&B” means not many can aswer you that the two letters refer to the names of its founders “Justerini & Brooks”. The company, originally “Johnson & Justerini” was founded in 1749 in London (UK), delivering fine wine and spirits to various up-scale aristocratic households, as well as supplying the then British King George III. In 1910, Johnson & Justerini was bought by Alfred Brooks and renamed “Justerini & Brooks”. In the early 1950s “J&B” merged with another company to form “United Wine Traders Ltd”,and by the end of the decade it had conquered America. From this sound base, and helped by another merger with “W. A. Gilbey Ltd, the London Gin makers", the brand went on to win over the world and became today’s second best selling blended whisky in the world after that other strange whisky fellow “Johnnie Walker”. “J&B”-whisky not only became a household name in hotels, bars and private homes but during the 60’s and 70’s it also became a fixed staple in the cultural world.

Some famous examples: In the original 1960’s “Ocean’s Eleven”, Sam Harmon played by Dean Martin, is seen with a bottle of J&B and glass looking at a painting of modern art in the home of character Spryros Acebos. The main character of Bret Easton Ellis's famous generation X novel “American Psycho”, Patrick Bateman, almost exclusively drinks J&B on the rocks. The main character MacReady in John Carpenter's 1982 horror picture “The Thing” exclusively drinks J&B on the rocks or even straight from the bottle. In the film “Goodfellas”, Ray Liotta's character receives a bottle of J&B smuggled into prison. In the cult film “Scarface”, Al Pacino's character, Tony Montana, drinks J&B with Elvira, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, during a poolside conversation. In the ultra violent HBO-prison drama “Oz”, various prison staff personnel can be seen drinking J&B in their office in several episodes. In the film “Once Upon a Time in America”, by maestro Sergio Leone, Robert De Niro as Noodles drinks J&B….
During the height of the Giallo genre, J&B was one of the most famous stars in those movies without getting any credit. In almost all the well-known gialli, the bottle and its golden liquid appears one way or the other. Very often, one of the main characters is an avid J&B-whisky drinker giving the beverage a prominent place in the film, the life of the characters and the evolving story. Even Marisa Mell could not escape this trend so when she appeared in a giallo “Una sull’altra”, directed by Lucio Fulci, she was also linked to the famous drink, if she liked it or not!

Seeing someone pour in a drink is nothing special but what makes this scene so special is the way Fulci directed Marisa Mell when fixing the drink. During a conversation with one of the other characters, Marisa Mell in a flower power bikini top, walks to the bar placed on a small table with a lamp. Instead of turning around with her face to the camera while pouring the drink she keeps standing with her back to the viewer and camera only opening her legs just a little bit.

The attentive viewer can now see the bottle J&D and its characteristic label through her legs giving the bottle a phallic like appearence as if entering the character's body. This scene filmed as it is by director Lucio Fulci is not a coincidence. Fulci had this scene clearly in mind while filming. Nothing more, nothing less. The scene gives a very clear hint about the profession of the character "Monica Weston". This scene also shows what a master craftsman Lucio Fulci was during the height of his carreer in telling a story solely with pictures and why “Una sull’altra” is regarded by many fans as one of his best movies.

During its giallo career, J&B appeared, as mentioned, in gialli like:

"Femina ridens" from 1969 with Dagmar Lassander as Maria, a giallo now famous for the dance scene with the see through bikini (See also entry "Pop Porno")
"Non si Sevizia un Paperino" from 1972 with Barbara Bouchet as Patricia

"Nude per l'Assassino" from 1975 with Edwige Fenech as Magda Cortis where the killer is pouring a glass of whisky

So in the end you can say that a giallo always had to have as a characteristic next to the black gloves and a bloody sharp razor blade a few scenes with J&B. Cheers!