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Saturday, July 31, 2010

"Casanova 70"-Oscar nominated screenwriter dies at age 96!

Suso Cecchi D'Amico with director Martin Scorsese

ROME – Screenwriter Suso Cecchi D'Amico, who emerged from the male-dominated post-war Italian cinema to become a celebrated artist and contribute to such milestones as "Bicycle Thieves" and "The Leopard," died Saturday July 31st at age 96. Cecchi D'Amico died in her hometown, Rome, the ANSA news agency said, citing her family. No cause of death was given. Cecchi D'Amico worked with some of the most renowned Italian directors, including Franco Zeffirelli, Michelangelo Antonioni and Mario Monicelli, whose movie "Casanova 70" with Marisa Mell earned her an Oscar nomination.

She was equally successful at writing scripts for neo-realistic movies, art-house films and comedies such as "Big Deal on Madonna Street." Her work helped make the Italian post-war movie scene a vibrant and innovative one. "It was an extraordinary generation, not just for cinema," said longtime friend Monicelli, himself in his 90s. "That generation grew out of dramatic events such as Fascism and war," he said, but "those minds put Italy back on its feet, finding a new way to do things, to produce." A long partnership with Luchino Visconti became a defining element in Cecchi D'Amico's career, spanning more than two decades and several movies. Among other titles, she contributed to "The Leopard," the sumptuous depiction of the decline of a Sicilian aristocratic family based on the book by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and starring Burt Lancaster and Alain Delon. Condolences poured in. President Giorgio Napolitano said Cecchi D'Amico was a "great protagonist of one of the best seasons of Italian cinema." Claudia Cardinale, who starred in "The Leopard," praised her deep culture and generosity. Zeffirelli called her "an extraordinary screenwriter" but also a good-hearted woman who was "a mom and a sister to all of us." Born Giovanna Cecchi in 1914 to a family of writers and intellectuals, she began working in cinema soon after the war. She quickly landed a high-profile job helping write the script for Vittorio De Sica's "Bicycle Thieves," which was released in 1948 and became a manifesto for neo-realism. She went on to a long career during which she often adapted literary works, including "The Stranger," "The Taming of the Shrew" and books by Dostoevsky and Pirandello. Cecchi D'Amico won several Italian awards and in 1994 the Venice Film Festival gave her a Golden Lion for lifetime achievement. ANSA said she is survived by her three children. A funeral is scheduled for Monday in Rome. (Associated Press)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Original Diabolik Bookmarks For Free! (2nd Anniversary-175th entry)

On July 27th, the Marisa Mell Blog will celebrate it's second anniversary. Whaw, time does fly quickly. While thinking about this anniversary, I thought that it would be nice to do something nifty for the many loyal readers of this blog from all over the world that kept coming back day after day, week after week, month after month to folllow the life and work of Marisa Mell. What is Marisa Mell probably best known for as an Eurocult actress??? Exactly, for playing the role of Lady Eva Kant in the movie "Danger: Diabolik!", directed by cult director Mario Bava, with John Phillip Law as "Diabolik". So, in regard to that movie and the role that made her famous all over the world untill today I am giving away two original diabolikal bookmarks for free. You can see a drawn version of the bookmarks on the publicity poster above to promote them made by the Diabolik publishing house Astorina in Milano, Italy. The bookmarks are normally exclusively made for the Italian market and are not available to the rest of the world. Untill now. Unfortunately I am not able to give each and every reader of the blog a set. Nevertheless, you can get a couple of these bookmarks as a winner by simply writing a comment under this entry about whatever you like to tell me! The lucky winner will be drawn from all the comment entries and gets his prize by registered mail at home this summer. Diabolik would say "Maledetto"! Good luck!
BTW do not worry when your entry does not show in the comment section under this entry because they need to be approaved by me so that spammers and other hoaxers do not get the chance to submerge the comment section with their useless crap! Thanks for understanding!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Where is my voice?

As an Austrian born actress, Marisa Mell went during the mid 60's to Rome, Italy to persue further her acting career. Classically trained at the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna, Austria she studied every subject needed at that time to build a prosperous stage and movie career like fencing, horse riding, language and dialogue,... but foreign languages where not on the curriculum of the school. Hence she had to teach herself the Italian language and after several months she was quite good at speaking it and after several years it became her language of preference talking like an Italian born women. But that was not enough for the Italian movie producers. They almost always dubbed Marisa Mell with the voice of an Italian (voice) actress because her own voice did not sounded Italian enough for them. The same happened to her Italian movies being dubbed into English for the English language market. Although Marisa Mell spoke English, as witnessed in the movie "French Dressing", you could always hear her Austrian accent. So out went the original voice of Marisa Mell and in came the dubbing voice.

Debra Winger and Carolyn de Fonseca in
"The Sheltering Sky" from 1990
One of the most famous voice actresses to dub Marisa Mell into English for the movie "La Belva col Mitra" was Carolyn de Fonseca. Carolyn de Fonseca was an American actress and voice dubbing artist based in Rome, Italy. She was known for her sensual, breathy voice and has worked extensively as a voice actress for the English language dubbing of several hundred foreign (mostly Italian) films from the early 1960's and onwards. She was also the wife of actor/voice dubber Ted Rusoff, whom she frequently worked with. Carolyn first came to Rome, Italy in the early 1960's and tried to make a career for herself as an actress. She played a small role in the acclaimed "A Difficult Life" (1961), directed by Dino Risi, and had a decently sized supporting role as Chloe, the love potion maker, in the peplum "Damon and Pythias" (1962). She also had bit part roles in some big productions that did shooting in Italy, such as "Barabbas" (1962) and "The Pink Panther" (1963) but Carolyn de Fonseca never really found much success as an actress. However, with many Italian films being prepared for international releases, native English speakers were in demand to work with dubbing, and Carolyn quickly became a prolific and successful voice dubbing artist. Some of Carolyn's earliest dubbing work was in the film "The Loves of Hercules" (1960). The film was post synchronized but its leading lady Jayne Mansfield did not dub her own voice, which led to Carolyn dubbing Mansfield's voice in the English version of the film. Subsequently, Carolyn would go on to dub Mansfield's voice in all of Mansfield's European films such as "Primitive Love" (1964) and "Dog Eat Dog" (1964). It was also Carolyn who provided Mansfield's narrator voice in the infamous quasi-documentary "The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield" (1968). Released after Mansfield's death, this mondo-style cult documentary consists of footage of Mansfield visiting various night clubs, beaches... while narrating her experiences. Since Mansfield died before the film's completion, Carolyn performs the task of voicing Mansfield's thoughts and narration. In the 1960's, Carolyn dubbed many leading ladies into English but eventually became more prolific in dubbing villainesses in various peplum and horror films. After a supporting role in the caper film "Midas Run" (1969) with Fred Astaire and Richard Crenna, she would give up her acting career and focus solely on dubbing films into English. She specialized in voicing bitchy, arrogant vixens such as the evil queen, played by Jany Clair, in "Hercules vs. the Moon Men" (1964), a bitchy tourist, played by Silvia Solar, in "Eyeball" (1975) and the deranged, violent inmate Albina in "Women's Prison Massacre" (1983). She would also typically dub exotic figures, or lust-craving upper-class nymphomaniacs such as a sex hungry asylum patient, played by Rosalba Neri, in "Slaughter Hotel" (1971), and a sassy, black nightclub performer, played by Carla Brait, in "The Case of the Bloody Iris" (1972). Carolyn would also sometimes deliver very over the top performances; dubbing the voices of sobbing and hysterical figures such as a paranoid asylum patient, played by Rossella Falk, in "Seven Blood-Stained Orchids" (1972), a sexually frustrated housewife, played by Carroll Baker, in "My Father's Wife" (1976), and a half-crazy drug addicted nun, played by Anita Ekberg, in "The Killer Nun" (1978). As the Italian film industry was slowing down somewhat in the 1980's, Carolyn resumed her career as a film actress in various American films that were shot in Rome, while still continuing to work with dubbing. On screen she played Christopher Reeve's secretary in "Monsignor" (1982), had a fairly sized supporting role in the Pia Zadora flick "The Lonely Lady" (1983), played a comedic role as an American tourist in "Detective School Dropouts" (1986) and finally appeared in Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Sheltering Sky" (1990) with Debra Winger. On television, she appeared in the highly acclaimed mini series "The Winds of War" (1983). She also appeared alongside her real-life husband Ted Rusoff in the mini series "Mussolini and I" (1985), in which they play the parents of Mussolini's mistress, Claretta Petacci, and played a supporting part in the TV movie thriller "The Fifth Missile" (1986). Carolyn de Fonseca died in November 2009.

Selection of her dubbing roles which read as a who's who of Eurocult actresses and cult movies:

1960-The Loves of Hercules-Queen Dianira-Jayne Mansfield
1961-Mole Men Against the Son of Hercules-Queen Halis Mosab-Moira Orfei
1963-Thor and the Amazon Women-Black Queen-Janine Hendy
1963-The Whip and the Body-Nevenka Menliff-Daliah Lavi
1964-Dog Eat Dog-Darlene-Jayne Mansfield
1964-Hercules vs. the Moon Men-Queen Samara-Jany Clair
1964-The Last Man on Earth-Ruth Collins-Franca Bettoia
1964-Primitive Love-Dr. Jane-Jayne Mansfield
1965-Terror-Creatures from the Grave-Cleo Hauff-Barbara Steele
1968-The Great Silence-Regina-Marisa Merlini
1969-Venus in Furs-Olga-Margaret Lee
1969-A Woman on Fire-Clarissa Renos-Françoise Prévost
1970-Queens of Evil-Bibiana-Ida Galli
1970-Shadow of Illusion-Gail Bland-Daniela Giordano
1971-Blackie the Pirate-Isabel-Silvia Monti
1971-Slaughter Hotel-Anne Palmieri-Rosalba Neri
1971-The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh-Carol-Cristina Airoldi
1972-The Case of the Bloody Iris-Mizar Harrington-Carla Brait
1972-Don't Torture a Duckling-Maciara-Florinda Bolkan
1972-Manhunt Trini-Francesca-Romana Coluzzi
1972-The Red Queen Kills Seven Times-Lulu Palm-Sybil Danning
1972-Seven Blood-Stained Orchids-Elena Marchi-Rossella Falk
1972-Shadows Unseen-Simona-Marilù Tolo
1972-Smile Before Death-Gianna-Rosalba Neri
1973-The Arena-Cornelia-Rosalba Neri
1973-Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eyes-Suzanne-Doris Kunstmann
1973-War Goddess-Oreitheia-Sabine Sun
1974-The Eerie Midnight Horror Show-Luisa-Lucretia Love
1974-The Last Desperate Hours Laura-Monachesi-Silvia Monti
1974-Spasmo-Clorinda-Monica Monet
1974-White Fang to the Rescue-Katie-Gisela Hahn
1975-Blonde in Black Leather-Miele-Monica Vitti
1975-Deep Red-Gianna Brezzi-Daria Nicolodi
1975-Emanuelle's Revenge-Emanuelle-Rosemarie Lindt
1975-Eyeball-Gail Alvarado-Silvia Solar
1975-Syndicate Sadists-Flora-Femi Benussi
1976-Black Emanuelle 2-Susan-Dagmar Lassander
1976-Emanuelle in America-Diana Smith-Maria Piera Regoli
1976-Gestapo's Last Orgy-Alma-Maristella Greco
1976-My Father's Wife-Laura-Carroll Baker
1976-SS Camp 5-Women's Hell-Kapo Greta-Patrizia Melega
1976-SS Experiment Love Camp-Dr. Renke-Patrizia Melega
1977-Beast With a Gun-Giuliana Caroli-Marisa Mell
1977-The Cynic, the Rat, the Fist-Maria Balzano-Gabriella Giorgelli
1977-The Desert Tigers-Dr. Lessing-Lea Lander
1977-Suspiria-Olga-Barbara Magnolfi
1978-The Bloodstained Shadow-Signora Nardi-Juliette Mayniel
1978-The Killer Nun-Sister Gertrude-Anita Ekberg
1978-The War of the Robot-Lois-Malisa Longo
1979-Beyond the Darkness-Iris-Franca Stoppi
1979-Escape From Hell-Katie-Cintia Lodetti
1979-Hotel Paradise-Muriel-Ajita Wilson
1980-Anthropophagus-Julie-Tisa Farrow
1980-Erotic Nights of the Living Dead-Fiona-Dirce Funari
1980-Inferno-Carol-Alida Valli
1980-Macabre-Jane Baker-Bernice Stegers
1981-Absurd-Mrs. Bennett-Hanja Kochansky
1981-Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror-Evelyn-Mariangela Giordano
1981-The House by the Cemetery-Laura Gittleson-Dagmar Lassander
1981-Murder Obsession-Glenda-Anita Strindberg
1981-Piranha II: The Spawning-Jai-Carole Davis
1982-Ator, the Fighting Eagle-Indun-Laura Gemser
1982-The New York Ripper-Scellenda's landlady-Rita Silva
1982-Pieces-Grace-Hilda Fuchs
1982-Sweet Body of Bianca-Jill-Grazia De Giorgi
1982-The Sword of the Barbaria-Aki-Yvonne Fraschetti
1982-Violence in a Women's Prison-Hertha-Françoise Perrot
1983-The Final Executioner-Edra-Marina Costa
1983-Hell Penitentiary-Warden Landers-Rita Silva
1984-Monster Dog-Sandra-Victoria Vera
1985-Jungle Raiders-Maria Janez-Marina Costa
1985-Miami Golem-Joanna Fitzgerald-Laura Trotter
1985-Phenomena-Frau Brückner-Daria Nicolodi
1986-Bridge to Hell-Vanja-Francesca Ferrè
1986-The Kiss of the Cobra-Maria-Milly D'Abbraccio
1989-Alien From the Deep-Jane-Marina Giulia Cavalli
1989-The House of Witchcraft-Sharon Mason-Marina Giulia Cavalli
1991-Millions-Margherita-Florinda Bolkan
1991-Voices From Beyond-Hilda Mainardi-Frances Nacman
1995-The Strange Story of Olga O.-Sheila Altman-Florinda Bolkan

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Taxi Love - Servizio Per Signora

Since writing this blog my private collection of rare Marisa Mell movies has grown substantially thanks to some very dedicated Marisa Mell fans in the world and making her filmography more complete with each addition. Last week I got a movie from a fan that I was looking for to have and see since ages not only for the rarety of the movie but also for the controversy surrounding this movie in regard to Marisa Mell. The film is called "Taxi Love-Servizio Per Signora" from 1976. The movie is an Italian-Spanish co-production and known in Spanish speaking countries as "Taxista de Sinoras".
Some of the Marisa Mell movies are broadcasted regularly on television like "Danger: Diabolik!" or "Una Sull'Altra" but other lesser known movies like "Taxi Love" or "La Tempesta" have almost been graduately lost in film history untill one night during the red eye hours a commercial television station in a Spanish speaking country decides to broadcast a rare Marisa Mell movie just to fill its air time! And fortunately some fans are vigilantely enough to tape or record this movie before it disappeares again in the trenches of the film abyss of lost movies. Other times during the height of the VHS tapes in the 80's some rare Marisa Mell movies have been issued on a very limited production run in some local markets. Sadly at the moment those movies have not been re-issued on DVD. What ever the source it is nice to see that this movie has surfaced again for the dedicated fan to see and appreciate !The copy that I got is the Spanish version of the movie. The quality of the movie is not very good as you can see by the screen grabs but is a little bit better when played as a movie. In the filmography of Marisa Mell movies this movie "Taxi Love" can be classified under the label "Italian Erotic Movies" which were extremely populare during mid and end 70's in Italy and the rest of the world. In the past I wrote an entry about this kind of movies under the title "Vizietto All'Italiana or the sexy Italian comedy". One of the most famous Euro-cult stars Edwige Fenech made dozens of those movies. Even Marisa Mell could not escape this trend and was forced to act in them if she wanted to stay in the movie business at all. So she made several movies like "La Liceale all Mare con l'Amica di Pappa" or "Amore, Letti et Tradimenti". This movie "Taxi Love" has all the ingredients of a sexy Italian comedy like a duo of two stupid and clumsy men, one tall and the other small, several confusing story lines with a lot of endless babble, some car chases or turmoil , one or two sexy heroines who show a lot of legs or cleavage and try to seduce the hero of the story... Personally I do not like these kind of movies because they never live up to what the lobby cards or posters promise and mostly the stories are just plain stupid and especially not funny but rather far fetched with often old or sexist jokes!
So this movie fits the mold perfectly. The central piece is of course a taxi with several stories told around this taxi and its driver. Marisa Mell plays in one storyline in the middle of the movie and disappeares after her story has been told. Nothing special and nothing earth shattering. Just a money job with only a few days of production time.So what makes this movie special then in the Marisa Mell filmography?

As far as I know there are two version of this movie in circulation. One normal version and one hard core version. The version that I got was the plain normal version without any additions of hard core (Thank God!). At the end of the success of the sexy Italian comedies when the movie market was flooded with this kind of movies the producers of these movies were looking to find new ways to sell them to the audiences. One of the means to do that was to take a movie from their movie library and insert several hard core scenes that were not originally in the production to spice up the otherwise dull story. This became a very common practice during those days and is one of the reasons why some people regard Marisa Mell at the end of her movie career as a hard core actress although she never did perform any of those scenes as mentioned. Those scenes were later shot with body doubles. Other famous examples are the movies "Emanuelle in America" with Laura Gemser by husband Joe D'Amato or "Porno Holocaust" with George Eastman. (Sigh!!!)
Another reason why this movie is quite special is the fact that thanks to its rareness not many people have seen it and some have questioned and doubted the appearence of Marisa Mell in it. Often the name of Marisa Mell was mixed up with the name of another actress in this movie going by the name Malisa Longo, although not the same as Marisa Mell, it was enough to cause some kind of confusion. But as can be seen by the screen grabs, Marisa Mell was indeed part of this movie, although not in a leading role but in a gloryfied cameo or as the title credits call her "by special appearence".

After viewing this movie I was surprised to see an old acquintance of Marisa Mell which I thought I would never see again!

In this movie from 1976 I noticed that she was wearing her white and yellow gold heart shaped pendant with diamonds that she wore for the first time in the spaghetti western from 1972 called "Amico stammi lontano almeno un palmo" as Sarah and that in the mid 80's also appeared on her neck during a sexy photo shoot for a skin magazine. A photo from that shoot was later used as an autograph card to promote her only single "Slave of Love". I wonder where that pendant is now???