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Monday, January 31, 2011

A little R&R Maroccan Style!

After a year of hard work at my daytime job it is time for me to have a little R&R during the month of February 2011 as you can see in a place that is dear to my heart in Marocco. Marrakech is a mysterious city on the border of the desert and an excellent place to recharge the batteries! Before I go I would like to thank the many thousands of readers coming back each and every day, week or month in the past year and making the month of January 2011 the best month that this blog has ever seen! Although Marisa Mell left us many years ago the dedicated visitors prove that she is not forgotten and still alive in the many hearts of her fans. And that is a good thing to know! Untill March 1st 2011 when the doors of this blog will open again with a new entry honoring the life and work of Marisa Mell! Sincerely Yours Mirko.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Je cherche le soleil au milieu de la nuit!

J'ai la tête qui éclate
J'voudrais seulement dormir
M'étendre sur l'asphalte
Et me laisser mourir

Stone
Le monde est stone
Je cherche le soleil
Au milieu de la nuit

J'sais pas si c'est la terre
Qui tourne à l'envers
Ou bien si c'est moi
Qui m'fais du cinéma
Qui m'fais mon cinéma

J'ai plus envie d'me battre
J'ai plus envie d'courir
Comme tous ces automates
Qui bâtissent des empires
Que le vent peut détruire
Comme des châteaux de cartes

Laissez-moi me débattre
Venez pas m'secourir
Venez plutôt m'abattre
Pour m'empêcher d'souffrir
J'ai la tête qui éclate
J'voudrais seulement dormir
M'étendre sur l'asphalte
Et me laisser mourir

Le monde est stone
(Michel Berger-Luc Plamondon)

Friday, January 28, 2011

La Compagna di Viaggio!

The most difficult thing in an artistic career is to keep up the momentum in one's career! Having several hits or blockbusters is not a garantee to have a great career untill the end of days! Often the opposite is true! Sadly! Take for instance the Italian director-screen writer "Ferdinando Baldi". During the height of the Spaghetti Westerns in the 60's Ferdinando Baldi was one of the top directors in this genre. Several of his movies have since become classics of the Italian western genre like "Blindman", "Texas Adio", "Preparati la Bara" or "Il Pistolero del'Ave Maria"! All terrific movies!
But when the hype is over and the audience wants something new or fresh it is not easy to have a follow up to an once beloved genre. It is not only difficult to find that follow up but the next thing has also to be material that interests you or creatively challenges you! And that is often not the case! So you take the next best job out of necessity and make a run of the mill movie. This is what happened to the movie "La Compagna di Viaggio" from 1980 with Marisa Mell in a cameo role. Marisa Mell was once one of the highest payed actresses in Italia but now her movie career is almost distinct. She isn't even mentioned any more on the movie posters or promotional material. Her sex appeal is over and she is no money magnet anymore! And to top that her character has no name in the movie and is only credited as "the women with the veil". Sigh! The only thing she has to do in this movie is trying to seduce a young body builder and adoring his chest muscles. Time has moved on. Other and younger Italian starlets want their place in the spotlight like Serena Grandi. This is her second role in a movie and the beginning of a big career thanks to her big assets. She is still working in the movie business in Italy today. The movie "La Compagna di Viaggio" belongs to the movie genre Italian Sexy Comedy or Vizietto all'Italiana. Marisa Mell made several of those movies but not anymore as the sexy kitten but more the older women who is still sexy but whose time has come and passed like in "La Liceale al mare con l'amica di papa" as the fustrated sex obsessed wife! For Ferdinando Baldi this movie was just a job to survive and that you can clearly see on the screen. This movie is so bad that you wished that the train where all the characters are travelling on to Paris, France would crash so that this movie ends prematurely so you do not have to endure it anymore. I love Eurocult trash movies very much but this movie is so flat on every aspect from acting, directing, story wise that it is hardly possible to top that. To make my point, here is the trailer of this movie:

video

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Giallo Radio - Music with a bloody edge!

The internet is this day and age flooded as everyone knows with millions of sites tackling as much subjects which are of little or no intrest to you. But once in a while you stumble on a site that keeps you glued for many hours to your computer screen and when the site produces also some of the best music ever composed by music maestro's like Ennio Morricone, Bruno Nicolai, Claudio Simonetti, Piero Umiliani, Stelvio Cipriani and many others than you can not believe your luck! That happened to me several months ago discovering the site with music of one of my most favorite film genre's: the Giallo. The site is called "Giallo Radio", hosted by a wonderful man named Mark Hammon.

Marisa Mell Blogspot (MMB): How did you came to be such a soundtrack fanatic?

Mark Hammon (MH): I am first and formost a film fan followed by a soundtrack fanatic. I have been listening to soundtracks since my father turned me on to them in the 60's. My first soundtrack purchase was from the war movie "Patton" in 1970. My favorite films/scores are for horror films.
MMB: Are you now as an adult professionelly involved with movies or soundtracks?

HM:
I work for a U.S. soundtrack company as a contractor. I started out as a customer and over the years, built a website, maintained it and now I am as much of the company as the employees.
MMB: Were you from the beginning familiar with the Eurocult movies and the wonderful music that it has produced during the height in the 60's and 70's?

MH: In the 80's-90's I discovered VideoWatchDog. I learned about the whole European Horror genre. I learned of Argento, Fulci, Franco, Rollins... I had a Laser Disc player and rented and purchased foreign horror films and noticed the music always seemed to be good in the films, but when I purchased the CDs it seemed like it wasn't horror music. With the likes of Argento I learned about the 'thrillers' (not knowing the term "Giallo"). I liked how the music, plots and characters worked together. I am amazed that people don't recognize "Basic Instinct" as an American "Giallo" film. MBB: What is the composition of your home theatre?
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MH: I own an all region DVD-player, certified "THX Surround" sound set up (Boston Acoustics, Pioneer - 700 Watts of intense surround). I just got rid of my HD 65" Mistubishi Rear Projection and now have a 55" Sony HD LCD. I tend to watch at least 10 movies a week.MMB: What do you think about Marisa Mell and her career?

MH: I think Marisa Mell is a beautiful actress, but I don't have a lot of movies with her in them.

MMB: I noticed that the "Giallo Radio" site is not updated regularely but sporadic?

MH: As for my "Giallo Radio" site I had such big inspirations but just don't have the time to do much with it. I have a family, two jobs and want to spend my time watching movies instead of updating my website.
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MMB: Thanks Mark for the interview!
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Giallo Radio has several scores of Marisa Mell's giallo's to discover by you!
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You can find the "Giallo Radio" website at http://www.gialloradio.com/index.html
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You can find the "VideoWatchDog" magazine at

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Glamour Puss!

In the March 1st 1968 issue of the American edition of fashion magazine "Vogue", Marisa Mell had a fashion photo spread as lead up to her American adventure as one of the stars in the musical version of the life of spy "Mata Hari". The picture was taken by then very famous photographer Bert Stern. Bert Stern gained notority at the beginning of the 60's when he was able to photograph Marilyn Monroe during a three day shoot six weeks before her tragic death. He became one of the most celebrated photographers in the States untill recently having had almost every star and starlet before his camera's. This photo shows clearly that Marisa Mell, when she had not been a movie star, had all the qualities of becoming a top fashion model during the 60's like the then glamour pussies Verushka, Wilhelmina, Jean Shrimpton, Lauren Hutton, Ingrid Boulton or Karen Graham. I love this picture because it shows Marisa Mell's personality in a complete different styling than usual. Bellissima!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

SATANKA.

During the height of the Spy Craze in the 60's around the world ignited by the monstrous success of the James Bond movies and franchise a new genre of movies surfaced build around the concept of the secret agent. Very quick in all segments of the media like television, books,... the secret agent appeared to save the world. The secret agent was not only restricted to the male agent but also the sexy female secret agents started to mingle in the deadly game to save the world. Best known from the 60's are "Honey West" played by Anne Francis, "Fathom Harvill" played by Raquel Welch or "Irma Eckman" played by Elke Summer.
Everybody tried to cash in on this money making machine so comics could not stay behind and soon the James Bond novels written by Ian Fleming were adapted into comics for news papers. Even in this medium, the secret agent concept wrecked havoc and was a run of the mill success. All over the world, secret agent comics were popping up. South America was no execption.

And where something in pop culture is a success, making fun of it soon follows so in 1968 a comic magazine in the style of the American magazine "Mad" under the name of "El Pingüino" based in Chili wanted a spoof comic making fun of the sexy female secret agent. Hence secret agent SATANKA. was born.

Satanka. is the sexy top secret agent working for an organisation called "C.I.D.R.A". In her quest to save the world from the evil organisation "SRONIA" she is helped by two other female agents known as "Rock" and "Roll".

Satanka. is the brain child of the Argentinian creator Hector German Oesterheld with the help of fellow Argentinian artist Angel "Lito" Fernandez. Herctor German Oesterheld or also known as "HGO" was one of Argentina's top comic book script writers. He was member of the Venice group who's members were also Mario Faustinelli, creator of "Kolosso", Hugo Pratt, creator of "Corto Maltesse" or Dino Battaglia, creator of "Ispettore Coke".


The sexy secret agent Satanka. was quite a succes in South America. So one day a journalist asked the creator Hector German Oesterheld where his inspiration came from to create his heroine. HGO answered that his femme fatale was modeled after the Austrian actress Marisa Mell. He told that Marisa Mell embodied physically everything that a secret agent should have and be to save the world. So Marisa Mell became Satanka. in the comics of the comic magazine "Pengüino". And this is not strange. Not many people in Europe and even the rest of world know that Marisa Mell in the 60's was a big star in South America. Her movies like "Danger: Diabolik!" or "Le Dolci Signori" were big hits in countries like Argentina and Chili. Her face and name were house hold. Like in Spain at that moment in time, she appeared almost every week on the cover of a magazine or in articles in the yellow press. Probably the 1965 movie "Masquerade" made quite an impression on HGO because in this movie Marisa Mell was the template for Satanka. as seen on the photo above.


And here this entry should have ended! Unfortunately it does not! Next to his profession as a comic book scripter, Hector German Oesterheld was also a critical journalist in Argentina situated on the left hand side of politics. In that capacity he wrote among others one of the best biographies of "Ernesto 'Che' Guevarra" also in 1968, the year that he created Satanka. or one of the most critical biographies of Evita Perron in 1970 making an end to the pop cultural idolization of her life. During the 70's, it is believed that HGO and his four adult daughters joined the leftish political organisation "Montoneros".


In 1976 Oesterheld disappeared to be never seen again. A year later his daughters, Diana (21), Beatriz (19), Estela (25) and Marina (18), were arrested by the Argentine armed forces in La Plata, and were also never seen again. Next his daughters' husbands were also among those that vanished. The dictorship in Argentina removed each and everyone against them. Only a grandson, Martín, born in captivity and recovered from the government by Oesterheld's widow, Elsa Sánchez, was rescued and raised by her. A second grandson, Fernando, born earlier, was raised by his paternal grandparents. When a journalist asked a member of the dictatorship what had happened to Oesterheld he aswered: "We did away with him because he wrote such a great biography of Che Guevara!" (Sigh!). Nobody knows what happened to Oesterheld, how he was tortured and ultimately died a cruel death around 1977-1978 but several other journalists in prison at the same time claim to have seen him alive in january of 1978. After that date all traces dispear in the mists of time! Sadly this is one story of many many many stories in Argentina. In our memories Hector German Oesterheld will always be remembered as a great artist and journalist. And that is something that no political regime can take away how hard and bloody they try to do. R.I.P.


UPDATE - March 8th 2011
In this entry about the comic heroine "Satanka." I mentioned that: "He (HGO) was member of the Venice group who's members were also Mario Faustinelli, creator of "Kolosso", Hugo Pratt, creator of "Corto Maltesse" or Dino Battaglia, creator of "Ispettore Coke"."


I got a nice mail from an Argentinian journalist, comic expert on everything Argentinian comics and artist Carlos R. Martinez telling me that: "Osterheld was not a member of the Venice group. He worked with Hugo Pratt when this artist came to Argentina in 1950." Thanks Carlos for this clarification and info.


Carlos has a great own blog called


"Top-Comics: Blog sobre la historieta argentina y mundial creado por Luis Rosales (1944-2009)"


You can visit his blog at : http://luisalberto941.wordpress.com/


Highly recommended.

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.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Simsalabim Bam Bum (200th Entry)

Synchronicity is a wonderful occurrence in one’s life. And I always love it and feel special when it happens in mine! Yesterday, on the last day of the year 2010, was again such a marvelous day when everything comes together in an unusual but natural way. Since my last entry for this blog I was looking for a subject regarding Marisa Mell’s life to write about for the present entry. Not only was it going to be the first entry in the new year 2011 but it would also mark the 200th entry after 2 ½ years of blogging about the life and work of Marisa Mell. So the entry had to be special or unusual to mark the occasion. After several hours of going through my Marisa Mell collection on paper and digital I still had nothing that appealed to me to write about although there is still a lot of material to cover but nothing, in my eyes, that had that “je ne sais quoi” for a 200th entry. So I was a little in despair but I was going to give me a last chance and started again to search the internet for ideas and new angles. And that lead me to the wonderful subject of this entry: “Simsalabim Bam Bum” with Marisa Mell. “Simsalabim Bam Bum” or “Der Barometermacher auf der Zauberinsel” is a theatrical play written between October 15th and November 15th 1823 by Austrian play write and actor Ferdinand Raimund. The base for his play is a fairy tale called “The princess with the long nose”. This fairy tale is part of a larger collection of fairy tales collected by Christoph Martin Wieland and published between 1786 and 1789. In 1823 the play was put to music by Wenzel Müller. In 1985 the Austrian state television ORF and the German commercial state television ZDF recorded an adaptation of this play for children to be broadcast on the respective networks. And it was finding this play on the internet that put a huge smile on my face and was for me the perfect unbelievable year ender. 2010 could not have ended better. Why? First of all of course it is a theater play with Marisa Mell which is very rare in her career but the main reason for my happiness was that finding the broadcast of this play is so rare, since it's original date, that not many people in German speaking countries remember the play on televsion and if so, they remember it as having seen it only as young children and do not remember much of it! This production was not publicly available on any medium during the last 25 years. You could get a copy from the television station ZDF or its cultural pendant SAT3 but only for a whopping 200 euros. The story is about a very clever young man Barholomäus Quecksilber who's profession it is making barometers. One day he is cast on a magical island. The fairy Rosalinde grants him three magical objects: a wand turning everything it touches into gold, a cloak enableling him to make dimensional journeys anywhere he wants to and a horn that can call an army to his help when needed. "If I have this much power I can ask for the hand of a princess!" Bartholomeus thinks but can he or are there hidden traps to conquer when using the magical objects?
This production was broadcast on December 1st 1985. In this play Marisa Mell incorporates the important character of the fairy Rosalinde. She has the body of a sfinx and is constantly weaving threads of destiny for the people on Earth. Because this was mainly an Austrian prodution, co-financed with the ZDF, Marisa Mell got the part because she lived already then in Vienna out of necesssity and knew some key people involved in the production of this play. Simsalabim Bam Bum is one of the last productions she worked on in a major capacity. What is also refreshing after many years of being dubbed into Italian is hearing her speak in her own husky voice. This production is so rare that not much is known about it or what happened behind the scene's. The complete production is for the moment available on the internet but maybe not for long due to copyright reason's. So if you would like to own a rare Marisa Mell starred staged production for television this is the moment to download it before it is gone again maybe forever from the public domain.