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Sunday, January 9, 2011

No Way Out!

Movie making and movie business are a strange profession where back stabbing is often the rule of the day than the exception if you ask people working in that field! Why would someone trying to work in such an environment populated with super ego's is often a mystery to outsiders. So it is not strange that during the production of a movie this movie undergoes a complete transformation from original script to final product shown at the première of the movie. Script rewrites, changing production firms, casting and re-casting of stars and starlets, new film titles, scenes being cut or entered without knowledge of key production people... you name it, it has been done all for the higher good of making a masterpiece in someone's vision or trying to save the ruins and one's investment.When you are fan of Euro cult movies you are familiar with this kind of movie bashing! Most of these movies have been tampered with one way or the other. This is mostly done by the producers of the movie because they are the ones giving the money to pay the whole product and so have the final word in the end. Distributors of a movie in a certain movie market are the next group of people who often molest a movie to fit the product into their vision or making the biggest buck in a short period without respect for the artistic vision of the director or movie maker. So each Euro cult star has in his or her filmography prime examples of this.
Althoug there are other movies on the filmography of Marisa Mell which fit the bill a good example is the 1970 movie "Senza Via D'Uscita". On first sight this is a run of the mill Euro cult movie but when you delve a little deeper this movie is a real gem. The movie is an Italio-Franco-Spanish production so that does not bode well. This movie has as official Italian title "Senza Via D'Uscita" but is also known in Europe as "Las Fotos De Una Mujer Decente" in Spain , "La Machination" in France (not to be mixed up also in France with a movie with the same title "La Machination", another Marisa Mell movie with original title "Una Sull'Altra), "Terrori" in Finland or "No Way Out" in England.In the US this movie is sometimes known as "Diabolical Mistress"
but the movie is best known as "Devil's Ransom".And I am sure that it has a lot more other titles on video boxes during the height of the video nasties in the rest of world.
Another point of discussion could be what kind of movie this really is: a giallo, a horror movie, an action movie,...? What is it going be, bub??? Depending on the domain the movie is all of the previous and none of it! You are free to pick what you like best! When you ask fans of the movie than the pendle would swing in the direction of a "giallo" above all the rest.
What is certain (!) is the fact that this movie was produced by Pierluigi Torri or better known at the end of the 60's beginning of the 70's as Mr. Marisa Mell. On this blog is enough written about the tumulteous relationship between those two people. This movie was a gift of love from Pierluigi Torri to his wife Marisa Mell. Torri was always credited in the papers and yellow press as a movie producer in regard to Marisa Mell so it was only fitting that he should produce a movie for his beloved (!) wife. Unfortunately he had to flee Italy before the movie was finished and hitting the theatres on criminal charges.
The movie is credited to be written by Tiziano Cortini, Julio Salvador and Piero Sciumé. The first two have several movies to their credit as actors and/or writers but the last one is a little bit of a mystery.Officially Piero Sciumé is credited also as the director of this movie next to being the screen writer.
When surfing the internet there is no picture of him to be traced or much more information for that matter than some info on IMDB. He has one credit as an actor in a 1968 German production "Die grosse Treibjagd", two credits as writer next to this movie for another Italian movie called "Riuscirà il nostro eroe a ritrovare il più grande diamante del mondo? in 1971 and finally as script supervisor for the movie "La Tumba dela Isla Maledita". And that is it! After that this man vanishes from the Earth, never to be heard of again! No problem until you look closely on the ads for the American distribution of the movie under the title "Diabolical Mistress" and "Devil's Ransom" you see that the movie had as "executive producer and director Ray Danton"! "Ray Danton" - What the f*ck! Where did he come from?

Ray Danton , also known as Raymond Danton, was a radio, film, stage, and television actor, director, and producer whose most famous role was in "The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond" in 1960. He was married to actress Julie Adams. In the 60's he had two careers on both sides of the pond. He played in many American television series like Hawaii Five-O, Cannon, Matt Helm... and at the same time starred in several Euro cult movies like "Corrida pour un Espion" and "New York Chiamo Super Drago", starring non other than Marisa Mell in the female leading part.

So how does this all fit together, my dear Dr. Watson? In 1966 the Italian James Bond clone "New York Chiama Super Drago" was released with Ray Danton and Marisa Mell in the lead roles. During the production of that movie both actors became friends and kept in touch after the end of the movie production. When Pierluigi Torri was on the look out several years later for a possible director for his movie starring his then wife Marisa Mell she reminded him that her one time co-star Ray Danton always wanted to be a director of movies next to his movie career. It would also be a nice back up if his movie career might dwindle. Both parties got together and a deal was made but there was an unsurpassable hurdle to conquer. Italian law and trade unions at that moment prohibited non-Italians to work on an Italian movie production behind the scenes. The Italian film trade was closed for foreigners. Therefor the producer had to make a ruse for the autorities. Officially the movie would be directed by Piero Sciumé but unofficially the director would be Ray Danton. Because this was his first directional debut he was also willing to participate in the funding of the movie and became also unofficially "executive producer". So everything was in order for the powers-that-be in Italy. All the official Italian commercial ads, press books,... would always mention Piero Sciumé as director of the movie! For the American market there was no problem to mention that the movie was executive produced and directed by Ray Danton. Hence it was even a bonus in promotion of the movie because the audience knew Ray Danton as an actor of beloved American series so they would certainly go see the movie that he directed. As a thank you for Piero Sciumé to be the beard for Ray Danton the actor played the next year in 1971 a leading part in the next movie written by Piero Sciumé which also had him as an assistant director "Riuscirà il nostro eroe a ritrovare il più grande diamante del mondo?" For Ray Danton was this directoral debut the beginning of a very succesfull career as a televsion director from 1970 untill 1984 with series like Dallas, Dynasty, Incredible Hulk, Quincy M.E., Cagney and Lacey, Fame, Magnum.... Case closed.

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