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Saturday, March 12, 2011

"The Lonesome Road of Jesús Franco!" by Carlos Aguilar

During the mid 60's untill the mid 70's Marisa Mell was at the height of her movie career in Europe and South America. She was one of the most beautiful and demanded actresses of her time by producers and directors alike. As top of the bill she asked and earned top money for being part of your movie. In the end she made during that decade around 30 movies in all kind of genres, you name it she did it.At the same time on the Iberian Peninsula, in Spain and later in France, there lived a man who became in later years an icon and living legend with a large cult following. His name: Jesús "Jess" Franco! As a director, writer, cinematographer, musician and actor he made during the before mentioned period in time around 50 (!) movies, often more than 5 movies a year, many of them unfinished due to low financial backing. He was a man with thousand ideas at the same time not knowing which idea to execute first on film. His filmography is around 200 movies! To know more about the life and work of this prolific artist on the internet you need to visit the excellent and always interesting blog: "I am in a Jess Franco state of mind" it isn't strange that many fans of both cult cinema stars sometimes asked themselves "Did Jess Franco and Marisa Mell have ever worked together on a production?" And that is a very good question but not so simple to be answered. Fortunately for us in Spain there is an award winning man by the name of "Carlos Aguilar" who knows it all, the in's and out's about everything connected to Jess Franco and his movies. Last month publisher "Catedra" has published in her series of monographies "Signo e Imagen/Cineastas" his latest book titled "Jesús Franco". More about that later. Carlos Aguilar was born in Madrid in 1958 as the son of the doctor and writer Miguel de Aguilar Merlo. A cinemaphile and avid reader since he was a teenager, he began writing unpublished short stories, film reviews and articles while still in school. In 1976, he enrolled in the psychology program at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, and in 1978 he began publishing articles in the "fandom", in both Spain and France. In 1980 he edited the first Spanish fanzine in the Fantasy and Horror genre "Morpho" of which four issues would later appear... In 1982, as a result of Morpho´s succes, Aguilar received two offers to work professionally: to write in various cinema magazines in Barcelona and to collaborate in the "Festival de Cine Imaginario de Madrid". Thus, while studying cinema in the Taller de Artes Imaginarias, Aguilar´s long and multi-faceted career began. His facets include cinema critic, journalist, collaborator with entities such as the Fimoteca Española, AISGE, and Federacion Nacional de Cineclubs. He has directed conferences and cinema forums. He has worked as assistant director and press agent on various films and has been a member of the executive committee of several fim festivals. (Madrid, Cadiz, Tenerife, Trieste...) Carlos Aguilar lives in Madrid with his beautiful and also very talented wife, the Canadian writer "Anita Haas".
The Marisa Mell Blog is very honored that Carlos Aguilar was willing to answer the question about a possible working relationship between the cinematographic beast Jesús Franco and beauty Marisa Mell.

Here is Carlos Aguilar with his answer to this question:

No te extraña que Marisa Mell nunca trabajase para Jess Franco, en la época dorada de ambos? Pues bien, esta colaboración estuvo a punto de producirse!. La revista española “Pantallas y Escenarios”, en su número 115, aparecido en Febrero de 1972, publicó la noticia, en su página sobre proyectos. La película iba a titularse The Lonesome Road, y como co-protagonista figura Barbara Bouchet. Evidentemente, el rodaje nunca tuvo lugar, y de este modo el cinéfilo sufrió por partida doble: 1) el sentido del erotismo de Jess Franco y la especial sensualidad de Marisa Mell se habrían entendido muy bien 2) Marisa Mell habría añadido otra entrega a su magnífica mini-filmografía sobre roles dobles, rubia y morena, en la misma película. Cómo puede saberse esto segundo? Porque diez años después Franco rodó esa historia, pero con distintos intérpretes, producida por él mismo en España, Camino solitario (literalmente, el mismo título en español). Así, se advierte que el trabajo previsto para Marisa Mell lo desempeñó la propia mujer de Franco, Lina Romay, puesto que sus personajes son dos, la bellísima y elegante esposa, rubia platino, de un millonario, y la hermana hippie de ésta, morena y grunge. Del mismo modo, el rol previsto para Barbara Bouchet (la ex amante lésbica de la protagonista/rubia) lo retomó otra modesta actriz española, Carmen Carrión. Por último, el detective protagonista, que se llama Al Pereira, en 1972 iba a interpretarlo Mark Damon, y en la película definitiva lo personificó Antonio Mayans, tan inseparable como Lina Romay de la filmografía de Jess Franco en los 80. Camino solitario no está mal, sobresale dentro de las últimas décadas de la obra de Jess Franco. Pero cuando ves esta película y te imaginas a Marisa Mell en los dos roles que interpreta Lina Romay… sufres mucho!"

"Marisa Mell and Jesús Franco?

Have you ever wondered why Marisa Mell and Jess Franco never worked together during the golden years of their careers? Well, they almost did once!
This news appeared on the ‘new projects’ page in issue 115 of the Spanish magazine Pantallas y Escenarios in February 1972. The film was going to be called The Lonesome Road and would co-star Barbara Bouchet.
Obviously, the shoot never took place, and so the film buff suffers on two counts: 1) Jesús Franco’s special sense of the erotic would have gelled exceptionally well with Mell’s unique sensuality. 2) Marisa Mell would have added yet another piece to her collection of blonde-brunette double roles in the same film.
How do I know this last bit? Because ten years later, Jess Franco filmed and produced the exact same story, but with different actors. It was called Camino Solitario, literally the same title as the original poject, but in Spanish.
Jess Franco’s wife, Lina Romay, plays the part that would have been Mell’s, and she plays both the beautiful, elegant platinum blond millionaire’s wife, and her dark-haired, grunge, hippy sister.
On the same token, Barbara Bouchet’s would-be part as the elegant blonde’s ex-lesbian lover, went to little-known Spanish actress Carmen Carrión.
And lastly, the part of the detective, which Mark Damon was supposed to play 1972, ended up going to Antonio Mayans. Like Lina Romay, Mayans was another regular in Jess Franco’s filmography of the 80s.
Camino Solitario isn’t a bad film, in fact it stands out among the last few decades of Franco films. But, to be honest, when you watch Lina Romay playing the part, and you imagine Marisa Mell in the same role, you suffer!"
It would have been very interesting to see what kind of movie it had become when Marisa Mell did made it with Jess Franco but as so often in movie making there are a lot of projects that are being discussed, planned and produced untill the first day of shooting and than fall together for some strange raison so as a film maker you are glad that once in a while a film does get made as visioned. The above mentioned series edited by Spanish publisher "Catedra" called "Signo e Imagen/Cineastas" is a wonderfull informative series of monographies about the most important contributors to Spanish and world cinema ranging from Fritz Lang, Frederico Fellini, Jean-Luc Goddard over Steven Spielberg, Pedro Almodovar, Woody Allen to Serio Leone, Julio Medem, Tim Burton and many many many more. More than 80 titles have appeared in this series of beautifuly edited books of more than 400 pages each with hunderth's of photo's often published for the first time in history from the private archieves of the people involved in the professional careers of the subjects written about. And now you have the latest entry in this series written by Carlos Aguilar.

The back cover of this books says it best what this book is all about:"Carlos Aguilar, premiado historiador cinematografico y novelista, aborda tan insolito caso mediante un minucioso ensayo que auna la cronica historico-biografica con la valoracion cinéfila, incluyendo la glosa de professionales vinculados en particular con el cine de Franco, no menos "de culto" and "(Franco) Entroncado con una familia de ilustre tradicion cultural, Jess Franco supone una figura absolutamente anomala en historia de cine espanol. Tanto por llamatives cuestiones estéticas (su obra aborda una serie de géneros, sobra todo el fantastico y el policiaco, des planteamientos muy personales, con progressivo hincapié en el erotismo) cuanto por inauditos factores industriales (su filmografia roza la cifra récord de doscientos largometrajes y se ha desarrollado en diversos paises europeos à largo de cincuenta anos). Justifica, pues como ningun otro cineasta espanol el califcativo "de culto"!

The book has been divided into various sections:

1. A description of the unique case of Jess Franco in the flm industry;
2. An analysis of the aesthetics and different aspects of Franco’s cinema like sex, his love of cinema, jazz, mystery...;
3. A chronological journey through the various stages of Franco’s career from his early beginnings as an assistant to his last film in 2010. There is also an important part about his colaborators like the stunning Soledad Miranda or Howard Vernon, Jack Taylor, Harry Alan Towers and many more;
4. To complete this book you have a very indeep filmography and bibliography of his work.
Could you ask for more? After reading this book Jess Franco as a person and his work are no longer a secret any more for you!

As a fan of Marisa Mell I hope that one day such a thorough work about the life and work of Marisa Mell would be available in such a beautiful edition. That would make me a really happy camper!

Would you like to know more about Carlos Aguilar and his work than you can visit his website:

If you would like to order this book or any other book written by him you can contact Carlos Aguilar directly at:

Thanks Carlos for this great entry and to me unkown information about Marisa Mell and Jess Franco! Gracias Mi Amigo!


El miércoles que viene, es decir el 30 de marzo a las 19.30, se presentará mi libro sobre Jesús Franco en el Cine Doré-Filmoteca Española. La película que hemos seleccionado es "Necronomicon", por ende el acto lo presentará su protagonista, mi viejo amigo Jack Taylor. ¡Velada sexy! ¡Os espero!

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