The Marisa Mell Blog is a non-commercial educational blog! If you own copyright protected material and do not wish it to appear on this site it will be promptly removed after contacting us.

Monday, October 27, 2008


During her filming of "Danger: Diabolik!" in 1967, Marisa Mell was invited to New York to audition for the role of Mata Hari in the musical with the same name which was going to open in New York, Broadway in the following year. When she got the part, as mentioned in another blog entry, the producers found it a good idea that Marisa Mell should appear in several magazines in the States to make her name a house hold name. So she appeared in McCall's Magazine but also as a fashion model in the November 1967 issue of Vogue, the number one fashion magazine in the world. What is so special about this picture is the fact that this photo brings together the middle-east and the west in one person. Marisa Mell has done her hair in a typical 60's hair-style like almost all the fashion models of that time but her dress is not at all western, it is a classical middle-eastern dress called "Jellabiya". The Jellabiya or in Arabic: الجلابية , pronounced Gellabiya in Egypt, is a traditional arab garment native to the Gulf region worn by women as a casual dress or as evening wear depending on the amount of work, complication of design beadwork as in this dress worn by Marisa Mell. The Jellabiya dates back to early days of civilization in the Arabic countries of the Gulf. Jellabiyas are also created for men; however, these include a minimal amount of design and are usually just striped or plain in a variety of colors. You have three kinds of Jellabiya: a) the casual Jellabiya: This is often a casual garment using a minimal amount of textiles and design; b) the evening Jellabiya: several different mediums are used to create these Jellabiyas. They include, beadwork, embroidery, different stich patterns as well as various textiles such as silk, lace and even wool and c) the wedding Jellabiya: Jellabiyas worn by the bride at weddings are much like evening Jellabiyas; however, they usually are quite excessive. Unfortunately her role in Mata Hara was a short one and she never got to Broadway, just some try outs in Washington DC. This faillure was very hard for her to swallow and took some time to get over with.
An Egyptian peasant women sitting on the banks of the river Nile in the 1890's looking at the Temple of Philae during sun set wearing a traditional black Jellabiya.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Body language

This photo is a behind the scenes shot of Marisa Mell as "Gloria Hall" with fellow cast member Jean-Claude Bercq as "Omero" on the set of the 1968 film "Le Cascadeur" or in English "Stuntman", where a women tries to lure a stuntman into stealing an Indian artifact. This is a great shot of Marisa Mell. There are not that many behind the scene photo's of her where she is totally relaxed and laughing, even showing her teeth. Although Marisa Mell had beautiful teeth she was not in the habit of showing them a lot on film or photo. So most of her photo's are staged without laughing. But that is not all. This photo is also great because it tells us a story simply by looking at the body language of the two actors. Both actors made only one film together so they probably didn't know each other before filming started. We are several weeks into production so they had time to get to know each other well because they are standing very close to each other in an intimate way. Marisa Mell's hair is even touching the nose of Jean Claude Bercq. He has told her something funny what made her laugh spontaneously. Although a funny story to make her laugh, her body language is telling us a complete different story. First she is not looking at her partner but is looking down. That is always a dead give away that the listener is not 100% sure of the honesty of her partner and the truth of the story being told. But that is not all to strengthen her suspicion Maria Mell is rubbing her nose. That is also a sign that she has her suspicions about the whole setting. I wonder what he could have told her???

Graz, Trondheimgasse 12

Marisa Mell was born on February 24th, 1939 in Graz, Province of Styria, Austria. She lived with her family for a certain time in a street called "Trondheimgasse" at n° 12. At the age of 18, after graduation, she went to Vienna to study theatre and drama at the Max Reinhardt Seminar. Graz became in 2003 "Cultural Capital of Europe" for that year and the women of the "WOMENT" organisation in that city decided to honor some women from Graz who had some kind of historical importancy for Graz and her history. In honor of these women, the organisation decided to dedicate 23 plates to these women in a project called "20+03". On march 8th 2003, on International Women's Day, these plates were revealed and during April 2003 they were put on the walls at their distinctive places. Each plate of the 23 plates has a different look and color scheme but they all share the same concept so that they have a common feeling and look about them. The graphic design is by an artist called Sabine Hörtner, selected after a competition to create the best design for this project. The texts are by writer Eva Rossmann. The text on the plate for Marisa Mell goes as follows:
"Zur Würdigung von Marisa Mell (1939-1992)-Schauspielerin - Schön war sie und sie hatte Talent. Sie genoss ihre Berühmtheit und Männer lagen ihr zu Füssen. Ein Traumleben voller Glamour - die Liebe kam zu kurz. Der Film riss, als sie nicht mehr makellos sein konnte. Trondheimgasse 12-Ehrmaliger Wohnort"
(In honor of Marisa Mell (1939-1992)-Actress - She was beautiful and had talent. Sie enjoyed her fame and men were at her feet. A dream life full of glamour - only love fell short. The movie broke when she could not be perfect any more. Trondheimgasse 12-former residency)

Monday, October 20, 2008

... and the photo novella from Lancio!

In this magazine clip from the mid '60's Marisa Mell is reading a magazine called "Sogno" meaning "dream" in Engish. The title of the article is called "Il fotoromanzo e' uno svago sano e legittimo" meaning "the photo novella is a healty and legitimate way of relaxation", which I find a rather strange title for an article. But on second thought it is not! Why? Like almost all pop culture items like comics, pulp novels, televison series, soap opera's... what the general audience likes to relax with after a long day of work, another part of the population had for a very long time a very low estime for. Very often some kind of professor or scholar was behind a certain train of thoughts. The most famous case is probably in America professor Fredric Wertham in 1954 and his attack against the horror comics from publisher EC Comics which in his opinion was "A Secuction of the Innocent". Although more than decade later reading a fotoromanzo in Italy was probably not a naturally thing for a women to do in public who liked to dream away with her romantic heroes and heroines. So this explaines why Marisa Mell is reading this magazine "Sogno" from publisher Lancio and the article is declaring that nothing is wrong when you like to read those kind of stories. Italy had in the mid 60's a very strong pop culture output with fumetti's like Diabolik, Tex, Akim... for the general male audience and Lucifera, Jacula, Bianca Neve... for the porn-horror male fan.

Women on the other hand had their romantic novels and instead of fumetti, being drawn comics, they had their photo novella's with romantic themes. The first photo novella was published in Italy on May 8th 1947 and was called "Il mio sogno" or "My dream". The first issue was an adaption of a novel and due to the success of the photo novella it became quickly a weekly series with in the beginning also adaptations of succesfull movies like "Sissi" with Romy Schneider and later specially written scenario's. The big boom in the photo novella genre came in the sixties with the rise of publisher "Lancio".

Lancio was founded in 1936 in Rome as a publicity company but it's fame started in 1960 when they decided to also publish photo novella's. What was new about them was that they told their stories in a dynamic way, that they used very beautiful men and women as actors and actresses and that the themes of their stories were very modern and nothing was sacred to them. The success was huge and there was no stopping them. Due to the success of their publications with names like Charme, Marina, Letizia... they even went to Paris or New York to shoot their stories and did not stayed in Rome all the time.

At the hight of the photo novella in 1976 all the publishers in Italy sold more than 8 million copies a month and Lancio sold more than 5 million of that number. Another aspect of the succes of the photo novella was the fact that they were the breeding ground for new actors and actresses, often on the brink of breaking in in the movie or television business. A lot of famous actors and actresses today started in the photo novella in Italy like Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida and later Ornella Mutti and even genre stars like Franco Gasparri (Mark Il poliziotto), Laura Antonelli, Luc Merenda, Kirk Morris, Ivan Rassimov... and many others made their first steps in showbizz on the stage of the photo novella.

Today the photo novella is still alive in Italy and around the world, especially in the Latino countries. There are now only a few publishers and they are struggling to keep their print run to a profitable level. Thanks to their loyal followers, especially women, the publications are still a steady seller but not anymore the hugh numbers from the 70's. What still is a fact is that they are a stepping stone to a movie and television career. And even the opposite is happening: due to the big succes of reality shows some of their participants like Gilles Rocca were able to cross over into the photo novella and will ultimately thanks to his acting talent and charisma make it to movies and television and so the circle closes for him.

Other photo novella actors and actresses will stay as long as they are wanted by the publishers in the phantasy realm of the photo novella like Francesca R. Filone with occasionally trips to other mass media but she will always come back to her first job! Others will leave forever and start a job outside the mass media.

To close, Marisa Mell by my knowledge, never acted in a photo novella. She knew probably a lot of beginning photo novella stars because they were all living in Rome and some of them worked with her in her movies like Marina Giordana in "La belva col mitra". What did happen is that some of her movies like "Danger: Diabolik!" were made into a photo novella but that is another story.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Diabolik-Cronistoria di un Film (Diabolik Club)

Today I got my copy of the premium book for 2008 from the Italian based "Diabolik Club" called "Diabolik-Cronistoria di un Film" written by Roberto Altariva. It has a print run of 700 copies. The book is in black and white with a color cover. It has 176 pages and comes with your annual subscription of the club. The book is completely in Italian, sorry no English. You can also have a subscription without the book what makes the annual fee a little cheaper.

After viewing the content of the book I was pleasantly surprised. A lot of people have written about Mario Bava's film "Danger: Diabolik" so it would be hard to write about this movie from another new angle than the usual ones. Therefore the books focusses completely on the publicity side of the 1968 movie. It has I believe almost all the articles that have appeared in the Italian press running up to making the movie, during its production and its press junket afterwards.

But that is not all. There are a lot of bonusses that makes every "Danger: Diabolik!"-fan's heart go faster: all the Italian and international promotional material starting with the Italian locadina, Belgian posters, international posters, all the Italian and international lobby cards, press books, all the movie versions, all the soundtrack versions... and finally a list of bloopers in the movie that you problably didn't know existed. What is also great about the book is the number of photo's that have not been seen during almost 40 years unless you are in the possession of the original articles from the Italian magazines or newspaper clippings. But that is not all, you even get the complete fotoromanzo of the movie and finally an interview from 2001 with John Phillip Law. If you are fan of the movie and would not like to cash out a lot of money for all the clippings and magazine articles regarding the movie "Danger: Diabolik!" then this book is a very cheap alternative! Highly recommended!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Stunning photo of Marisa Mell (5)

During the career of Marisa Mell, she had dozens of great pictures taken but the photo of this entry has to be one the most beautiful pictures ever taken of her. This is why it graced the cover of the German book "Marisa: Rückblenden auf eine Freundschaft" written by her college friend Erika Pluhar. You can easily see why she was one the most beautiful women in the world and was even courted by the Shah of Iran, Mohammed Resa Pahlavi!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

5OO Greatest Movies of All Time (Empire Movie Magazine-11/O8) - What movie is on place 429?

No, it is not "Jaws" but another cult classic! Yep, it's that guy again: Diabolik!

(This is a movie poster from cold war Yugoslavia!)

The World's Bestselling Movie Magazine "Empire", based in the U.K., has asked their readers around the world what would be the "500 Greatest Movies of All Time" for their november 2008 issue. The votes are in and the list is completed. Although there are thousands of movies made during the past century, people have in their collective subconcious almost all the same movies on their mind that should be on the list or near the top of the list. So it is not strange that classics like Gone with the Wind, King Kong, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Goldfinger or The Matrix... are coming up together with all the other 494 movies. That being said there is one movie of interest for this blog that landed on place 429: "Danger: Diabolik!" with John Phillip Law as master criminal Diabolik and Marisa Mell as his partner Eva Kant, directed by movie genius Mario Bava.

This is what Empire says about the 1968 movie:

"Danger: Diabolik (1968)
Director: Mario Bava

Meet Diabolik, masked super-criminal, high-living sensualist and unmatchable pop-art icon. An archly eyebrowed, unrepentant thief, Diabolik is equally opposed to a bureaucratic government (on a whim, he destroys a country's tax records) and the Mafia, and addicted to risk when it comes to stealing fabulously valuable items (eg a 20-ton gold ingot) which are also useless. Director Bava, a cult hero on the strength of Gothic horror films (The Mask Of Satan, Black Sabbath), was persuaded by Dino de Laurentiis to step away from the crypt for this one psychedelic masterpiece. It's as thin as a poster, but still amazing cinema - a succession of striking, kinetic, sexy, absurd images accompanied by a one-of-a-kind Ennio Morricone score that revels in its casual anarchy. Imagine if The Dark Knight were The Joker."

Isn't it great that a little movie made on a string budget at that time, like thousand other genre movies, is still being remembered more than 40 years later while all the other have been forgotten by today's readers of a magazine?

(This is a photo of Marisa Mell from a Japanese magazine. The photo was shot during the filming of Danger: Diabolik! during her time off of shooting her scenes.)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The 1000

Today 76 days ago on July 27th 2008, I created the "Marisa Mell Blog" with the intention to honor one of Europe's known and at the same time least known actresses. She was one of those actresses with a stunning face that you knew from somewhere or some movie that you had seen or that you thought to have seen but you could not name her or the title of the movie in question, when asked. Due to her untimely death in 1992, Marisa Mell was starting to fade away in the trenches of movie history. During the course of those 76 days, thanks to the many reactions I got from readers, I started to notice that Marisa Mell is fortunately not completely forgotten. In fact, she is very well remembered and some people are still fascinated with her and her beauty. A lot of them do know the films very well that she made and have a fond memory of those days in the 60's and 70's when they first came out. Her top 3 movies are "Una sull'altra", "Danger: Diabolik!" and "La belva col mitra". Those are the movies that have also the most merchandise like press-books, lobby cards, photo's.... So today I saw with great joy that the 1000th visitor came by to read an entry in the blog. I was amazed that this blog was able to attract 1000 readers in such a short time because a) there are millions of blogs at the moment on the internet to read and enjoy; b) it is not a porn blog attracting thousands of visitors each day and c) Marisa Mell is not a hot topic anymore like other female movie stars at the moment like Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts, Halle Berry,... Most of the visitors come from the East coast of the USA and Western Europe. The top 3 countries are the USA, Spain and the UK. The top 3 cities are Barcelona (Spain), Reston (USA) and Berlin (Germany). The top 3 languages are English (USA), English (UK) and Spanish. The top 3 search engines are Google, Yahoo and AOL and the top 3 words used in a search engine are "Marisa Mell nude" but that doesn't surprise me. Closing I would like to thank each and every one of the 1000 visitors, you know who you are. Thanks!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

First Nazisploitation Movie?

In 1958 Germany was still recovering from WWII when a German author by the name of Will Berthold wrote a book that shook Germany on its foundation at that time: "Lebensborn E.V.". In this book he tells the story of Lebensborn (= Fountain of Life) a Nazi organization set up by SS leader Heinrich Himmler, which provided maternity homes and financial assistance to the wives of SS members and to unmarried mothers, and which also ran orphanages and relocation programmes for children. Initially it was set up in Germany in 1935 but Lebensborn expanded into occupied countries in western and northern Europe during WWII. In line with the racial and eugenic policies of Nazi Germany, the Lebensborn programme was restricted to individuals who were deemed to be "biologically fit" and "racially pure" "Aryans", and to SS members. After WWII it was falsely reported that Lebenborn was a breeding programme. This was not true because individuals were not forced to have sex with selected partners. However, the programme did aim to promote the growth of "superior" Aryan populations through providing excellent health care, by restricting access to the programme with medical selections that applied eugenic and "race" criteria and by creating a meeting place of men and women who were the perfect specimen of the Aryan type. Germany in the 50's and 60's became obsessed with their Nazi-history and the book became a huge bestseller. Everybody wanted to know the history of this programme. So it wasn't long that a German production company "Alfa Film" saw money in this story and made this book into a movie in 1961 with Maria Perschy and Joachim Hansen as the main characters. Another plus for this movie was the fact that the author wrote the screenplay based on his novel. What he didn't know was the fact that he probably created a whole new movie genre in the exploitation realm: the Nazisploitation movie.

The movie was a big succes in Europe, even in not German speaking countries. Marisa Mell, fresh from drama school and with a few movies under her belt, was cast in this movie as Erika Meuring, one of the loyal women ready to participate in the programme for the glory of Nazi-Germany and especially Hitler. Her part is still a minor one but bigger than her previous roles. With years gone by the movie got lost in the trenches of film history and the subject was forgotten although the book was kept in print for decades. Then in the mid 70's a little exploitation film from Canada made headlines all over Europe! Like the book and film a decade earlier it shook Europe on its foundation. The movie: "Ilsa, she-wolf of the SS". The movie and especially the movie poster triggered the fantasy and often fetish desires of an audience ready to see this kind of movie. It made the principle actress Dyanne Thorne a star untill this day and ruined at the same time her career.

The success of the movie was unbelievable and it was followed quickly by two official follow ups. One country especially was more than interested in this kind of movies: Italy. Why? Simply because a) it had had herself a dictator like Hitler during WWII in the person of Benito Mussolini and b) it was a way to escape her repressed feelings put upon by the Catholic believe system. The gates of Hell were opened and dozens of similar Nazi-films entered the exploitation market to cash in on the new genre craze like SS Experiment Camp, The Beast in Heat, Gestapo's Last Orgy, Love Camp 7 and Deported Women of the SS Special Section. The list goes on and on and on. Due to the success of these movies it wasn't strange that other producers tried to cash in on this cash cow and were looking if they could find the same kind of movies or movies with a Nazi theme that they could exploite in their back movie catalogue. And so after more than a decade the movie "Lebensborn" saw the light of day again under a new title "Ordered To Love". Although the movie had nothing to do with the Italian kind of Nazi movies that didn't retain the producers and distributors to market the movie as a real Nazisploitation movie as the movie poster shows! While were at it why not make it as fetish as possible: a semi-naked women probably raped, black boots, a German soldier and especially a Nazi flag! The only thing that is missing is a whip but that did they probably forgot! The tag line is the best of all: "Suppressed Until Now!". While the movie was always readily available there was no suppressing at all but it triggers the curiosity of the audience. After viewing this movie most of the viewers are disappointed in this film not being a real Nazisploitation movie but what can you expect when this movie has no gore, horror or attrocities like these movies. Nevertheless the movie made film history at its time for being brave enough to spotlight a period in German history that officials rather would have kept in the dark.