lørdag 20. mars 2010

Euro actresses doing print ads

I've always found prints ads featuring Euro-actresses to be a lot of fun and since I've been lucky to come across several of these lately, I figured I'd share some of these goodies.

First up is this black & white ad from 1964, in which renowned Italian actress Virna Lisi attributes her shiny white smile to the use of Chlorodont toothpaste:

However, the product that Euro actresses seemed most eager to promote in the 1960s was soap - more specifically Lux soap. Here's a 1964 ad in which the gorgeous Sylva Koscina promotes Lux soap:

Another actress who endorsed Lux soap was Antonella Lualdi, who has been a popular actress in Italian films for decades. She's been somewhat less prolific in genre cinema but I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for Antonella thanks to her amazing performance as the seductive and provocative Serena in Death on the Fourposter (1964). The same year she starred in that film, Antonella did this advertisement for Lux:

But Antonella Lualdi did other ads too. In 1965 she endorsed a product called Stilla. At first sight it looks like some kind of beauty product but from what I can tell it's actually an eye medication sold only in pharmacies:

Gorgeous Japanese actress Yoko Tani had a career in Hollywood - appearing in stuff like The Wind Cannot Read (1958) with Dirk Bogarde, The Savage Innocents (1960) with Anthony Quinn and Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed? (1963) with Dean Martin. I must admit, however, that to me she is of more interest thanks to her appearances in a number of Eurospy films, such as the last entry in the Mabuse series, The Death Ray Mirror of Dr. Mabuse (1964), Ferdinando Baldi's Suicide Mission to Singapore (1966) and Umberto Lenzi's The Spy Who Loved Flowers (1966). Yoko, too, did an advertisement for Lux soap in 1964:

Flame-haired Italian bombshell Luciana Paluzzi became a busy actress both internationally and in Italy after her role as a wicked James Bond girl in Thunderball (1965). So naturally, Lux soap got Luciana to promote their product in 1966:

American actress Carroll Baker earned good money by making films in Italy but I'm pretty sure this ad for Lux soap paid very well too. This one is from 1967 and, as you can see, it's a bit different from the 1964 ones:

The final ad features Minnie Minoprio, a well-known figure in Italy but perhaps more obscure to non-Italians. Minoprio is actually a British singer and she made her debut in 1957 (at age 15) by starring in "Cinderella" by Rogers and Hammerstein at the London Coliseum. She was then a soubrette in an Italian variety show and ended up staying in Italy, where she become a very well-known jazz musician. She also appeared in a few films - most notably the mafia comedy The Funny Face of the Godfather (1973), in which she played the leading role. Minnie's career started to falter in the mid 1980s and this prompted her to do pornographic photoshoots for smut magazine Le ore (although without partaking in the actual hardcore activity) and starring in the softcore flick Una storia ambigua (1986) directed by porno specialict Mario Bianchi. Nowadays, Minnie likes to pretend that she never made this film - at least it isn't listed among her credits on her official website.
But enough on that. The reason I'm mentioning Minnie is because in 1973, she did a couple of sexy prints ads for Playtex corselettes as you can see an example of below:

My Swedish Aunt/La zia svedese

Italy, 1980

Directed by Mario Siciliano

Marina Frajese, Peter Thompson [Giovanni Tamberi], Laura Levi, Giuseppe Curia, Guia Lauri Filzi, Erminio Bianchi, Patrizia Predan, Sandra Cardinale, Giuseppe Cardone, Rossana Canghiari

Though rarely brought up in discussion, Italian hardcore porn from the early 1980s is quite fascinating stuff that can make for some really interesting viewings. Curiously, the hardcore scene in Italy was established relatively late in comparison to other European countries as there basically wasn’t any market for hardcore porn in Italy during the 1970s. Sure enough, some Italian films from this era did contain hardcore scenes, such as Joe D’Amato’s Emanuelle flicks Emanuelle in America (1976) and Emanuelle Around the World (1977), Edoardo Mulargia’s sleazy W.I.P. romp Hotel Paradise (1979) and Mario Gariazzo’s ‘sexy’ giallo Play Motel (1979), but these scenes were added in order to spice the films up for export to foreign markets such as France, who demanded hardcore scenes. Hence these films can hardly be labeled as real porno movies – they’re basically softcore films with a few brief hard scenes thrown in here and there. It wasn't until the early 1980s that full-on hardcore pornos started to boom in Italy. One of the better known Italian pornos from this era is My Swedish Aunt – directed by former straight movie director Mario Siciliano – and this is largely because it was one of the very few of these films to get dubbed into English and given an international release.

As expected, the plot is simple enough: Barbara Musomecci (Marina Frajese) is an attractive and free-spirited Swedish blonde who lives in a huge villa in the Italian countryside together with her grumpy and much older husband (Giuseppe Cardone). The husband is usually preoccupied with his work, and the film starts with him leaving for a two-week business trip to New York. Rather than sulk around, Barbara decides to have fun while she has the house to herself, and invites two of her slutty friends (Patrizia Predan and Sandra Cardinale) over for some partying. They quickly get into some lesbian action and later invite two hunky student boys over for some further hanky panky.

When hubby is away...

Barbara also gets around in between all her partying as she’s carrying on a fling with her virile gardener, Alberto (Giuseppe Curia), and occasionally gets some lesbian love from her nymphomaniac maid, Alice (Laura Levi).

Meanwhile, we are introduced to teenage boy Marco (Giovanni Tamberi), who is the nephew of Barbara’s husband. Marco lives in the city together with his strict, puritanical mother (Guia Lauri Filzi) and he is nearly flowing over with hormones as he has started to develop a craving for the opposite sex. This does not sit well with his sex-hating mother who goes ballistic when she discovers that Marco has brought a dirty magazine into her house: “You’re vice personified. You’re a potential delinquent. You’re nothing but a sexual maniac!” she scolds him!!


...and his horrible mother

Unable to cope with his deranged mother any longer, Marco decides to move out and go to stay with his uncle in the country. But since the uncle is away on business, Marco is met only by his sexy aunt Barbara. The two of them get along very well and it doesn’t take long before the hormonal boy starts lusting after his Swedish auntie. Unfortunately for Marco, Barbara isn’t prepared to take up a sexual affair with her husband’s nephew, so he has to make do with the nympho maid instead. However, as Marco gradually falls in love with Barbara, she finally gives in during one of her sexy parties and they have passionate sex in the middle of the living room floor while Barbara’s friends giggle and dance around them. Naturally, several more complications follow…

Seduced by auntie

As you can probably tell from the plot, this is fairly traditional coming of age stuff with lots of jealousy between the characters and ridiculous sex comedy elements thrown in for good measure. None of it is particularly original, or even all that well-made for that matter. No, in order to really understand the success of this film it is crucial to take a closer look at its star, Marina Frajese (alternatively known as Marina Hedman, Marina Lotar and various other aliases). Swedish-born Frajese made her first hardcore scene at age 32 in Joe D’Amato’s Emanuelle in America, and would continue to do hardcore scenes in both Play Motel, and for D’Amato again in Images in a Convent (1979). But since there wasn’t much of a hardcore market in Italy at the time, Marina also appeared in a number of regular, non-pornographic roles. It wasn’t until the advent of fully fledged Italian porno movies in the early 1980s that she reached true stardom.

My Swedish Aunt is one of the key titles among Marina’s early pornos, and it played an important part in establishing her star power. A mature but attractive 36-year old at the time, Marina Frajese was ideally cast as the frivolous Swedish aunt who has her sexually awakening nephew walking funny. The seductive aunt was soon to become one of Frajese’s signature characters as she would go on to play different variations of this role in a number of adult films – quickly establishing herself as Italy’s most (in)famous porno diva of the 80s. Much of Marina’s popularity was no doubt due to her uninhibitedness as she eagerly performed in scenes with anal sex, double penetration and facials – none of which was too common in early 1980s porn. There are no such scenes on display in My Swedish Aunt, though.

The sinful aunt

In addition to introducing Marina as the seductive aunt, this film also foreshadows another notorious Marina trait. In a bizarre sexual dream sequence, Marco dreams about a horse in a field, and a buff naked Marina running towards the horse in slow-motion while a catchy disco beat plays. As she reaches the horse, she starts caressing it. The film then cuts to a smiling Marina on her back in the field getting a big, white load squirted over her breasts while we hear the off-screen stallion neighing ecstatically. Mercifully, this scene is clearly faked, and Mario Siciliano has the good sense to suggest instead of showing - thereby sparing us a repeat performance of the uncomfortable stable sequence from D’Amato’s Emanuelle in America. Marina, however, would later go on to perform explicit scenes of zoophilia in several other films such as Marina e la sua bestia (1984) and La perdizione (Marina’s animals) (1986), although the authenticity of these scenes is rather questionable.

Marco’s very bizarre dream

But really… the scene of Marina and the horse, though surprising, is little more than a mild preview to her later escapades. There are no really nasty or overly graphic scenes in My Swedish Aunt, which is really a relatively innocent affair when compared to the Italian hardcore films that would follow. As mentioned, the film is one of the few Italian pornos from the early 1980s to get dubbed in English and given an international release. In the US it got a VHS release on the Private Screenings label under the title The Other Woman. The English version I’ve seen was a fullscreen softcore cut – shorn of all moments of hardcore couplings. Luckily, I also have an Italian release and although it is in Italian only, it is widescreen and has all the hardcore action intact. Now, you’d think this would be the best way to view the film but truth be told, both versions contain exclusive footage, so neither one is completely satisfactory.

Obviously, the softcore version suffers from having a lot of unfinished sex scenes. There are numerous scenes that contain a lot of build-up and cheesy dialogue full of sexual innuendo but then abruptly cuts away just as the actors start undressing. It’s a build-up to nothing and it’s hard to not feel cheated by this. To compensate, though, there are some soft sex scenes that appear to have been shot exclusively for the non-hard version – most notably a silly scene where Marco and the maid, Alice, have sex in a car.

Fun in the car

Now, the hardcore version delivers all the explicit footage missing from the soft cut but on the other hand it’s missing a lot of additional footage from the soft version, including several dialogue scenes and an even entire sub-plot regarding Marco’s mother. It also leaves out the sex scenes that seem to have been shot soft (like Marco and Alice in the car).

So what does the hard footage consist of? Well, for the most part it’s limited to a lot of long blowjobs. There are also some full-on sex scenes with vaginal penetration but these scenes are briefer and occur with less frequency. Also, the fact that the penetration scenes are mostly shot in close-up indicates that they were performed by body doubles. This is presumably because Giovanni Tamberi, who plays Marco, was a “real” actor and probably didn’t want to appear in such scenes.

Tamberi was at the start of his film career when he starred in My Swedish Aunt and he would later appear in a series of thrillers such as Specters (1987), Phantom of Death (1987) and Too Beautiful to Die (1988). He’s not bad as the horny nephew but does feel dreadfully miscast because he is at least 10 years too old to be playing a sexually awakening teenager. Also of great interest is the fact that while he doesn’t partake in any penetration scenes, he does receive a non-simulated blowjob from Marina. Which explains why he’s hiding behind the pseudonym “Peter Thompson”. No doubt, Tamberi would like to forget all about his short-lived porno adventure.

Some of the naughty bits missing from soft versions

Seeing a legitimate actor like Tamberi doing porn, and having Marina Frajese playing her aunt role for the first time are some of the main selling points of My Swedish Aunt. But it does have some more stuff going for it as well, such as a couple of delightful Euro-disco songs by composer Carlo Maria Cordio. The two songs “No, Baby, Not Tonight” and “Hello” are both extremely catchy and dance-able but, unfortunately, the credits don’t list the singer. Too bad – we could really need a soundtrack release with these great numbers.

As an erotic film, however, My Swedish Aunt doesn’t exactly work because it is for the most time distinctly un-erotic. There’s nothing too sexy about the sex scenes, and with the exception of Marina Frajese, the performers are plain-looking at best. This can be said about pretty much every Italian porno movie from the early 1980s, though. They’re all highly unlikely to get modern viewers turned on but they still remain fascinating and worth checking out because of their often wacky plots and extreme cheesiness. Personally, I’m particularly interested in the ones that feature “real” actors, such as Giovanni Tamberi in this case, but other notable actors like Paola Montenero, Kieran Canter, Karin Well, Enzo Monteduro and Zaira Zoccheddu also popped up in some early 1980s hardcore productions.

But My Swedish Aunt isn’t just a sex film, of course. More precisely it is a sex comedy, which means that we are served a lot of funny business as well. Director Mario Siciliano was a competent craftsman and had made some fairly enjoyable films in the past, such as the WW2 adventure Overrun! (1969) and the strange supernatural giallo Evil Eye (1974), but his films lack a distinctive style and he doesn’t seem to have that good an eye for comedy. Hence the comedic elements tend to fall rather flat as they’re both predictable and stupid (and aided by an appropriately laughable English dubbing job). The sub-plot involving Marco’s sex-hating mother, in particular, is monstrously idiotic – so much so that it actually ends up being kind of amusing. The mother is played by prolific porno diva Guia Lauri Filzi, a hard-faced woman who tried her luck as a legitimate actress in a couple of films like Tano Cimarosa’s trashy crime flick Death Hunt (1977) before turning to hardcore. She’s pretty funny here – wearing her hair in a tight bun and without any make-up on. But since this is a sex film, she naturally gets cured of her fear of sex by a doctor, whose method is taking his clothes off and jumping in bed with the poor woman. So after some long blowjobs and a bit of brief fucking, the mom lets the hair out of her tight bun, puts on make-up, and voila: she’s now a lusty gal with an insatiable sexual appetite. One can’t help but laugh at this!

Ms Filzi’s hilarious transformation from nutty to slutty

The rest of the cast is interesting, too. Beefy, moustached Giuseppe Curia plays the gardener, and he has that super-clichéd 1980s porno actor look that immediately makes him funny to watch. Curia was one of the most important male porno actors in Italian adult cinema of the early 1980s but he too had started out with some brief roles in softer films: he was one of the orgy participants in a soft scene in Bruno Mattei’s The True Story of the Nun of Monza (1980) and played one of the men who rapes Marina Frajese in the woods in D’Amato’s Images in a Convent (a scene that does features some brief hardcore action). Playing the role of the maid is voluptuous brunette Laura Levi, who was also a key figure in Italian XXX cinema. She really gets to display her sexual appetite here. There’s also another important porno regular on board – namely Erminio Bianchi, who plays the doctor that cures Marco’s mother of her sex phobia. Grey-haired Bianchi looks a tad older than the other actors and he also played tiny bit part roles in a number of legitimate films such as The Concorde Affair (1979), The Salamander (1980), Bruce Le Fights Back (1982) and others. Rounding out the cast are blonde ladies Patrizia Predan and Sandra Cardinale as Marina’s friends. Of the two, Predan is the one who gets in on the most explicit stuff but she doesn’t appear to ever have done anything else. Cardinale doesn’t actually perform in any hardcore scenes here but she later went on to appear in a few more pornos for both Joe D’Amato and Angelo Pannacchio.

All in all, My Swedish Aunt is complete rubbish and not very sexy but it has its moments and is a relatively important title in Italian hardcore cinema. Mario Siciliano’s two next adult movies, Happy Sex (1981) and Dangerous Love (1981), were also dubbed into English and released on VHS in the US by Private Screenings. It’s a big wonder why Siciliano’s pornos were chosen for international export because there are numerous other Italian adult films that are far more interesting and enjoyable than these films. For a much better and sexier film where Marina Frajese plays a seductive aunt, I’d recommend Con la zia non è peccato (1980).

© 2010 Johan Melle

The cast:

Marina Frajese as Barbara

Giovanni Tamberi as Marco

Laura Levi as Alice

Giuseppe Curia as Alberto

Guia Lauri Filzi as Marco’s mother

Erminio Bianchi as The doctor

Patrizia Predan as Barbara’s friend

Sandra Cardinale as Barbara’s friend

Giuseppe Cardone as Barbara’s husband

Rossana Canghiari as The doctor’s wife

onsdag 3. mars 2010

Cool, old Variety Ads #3

Time for some more of those cool, old Variety ads. This time I've been scanning stuff from 1984 and 1985, and as usual I've consentrated on the European stuff.

Starting off with 1984:

First off is some cool artwork for Manhunt a.k.a. Cane arrabiato, an Italian action movie directed by prolific movie producer Fabrizio De Angelis under his frequent 'Larry Ludman' pseudonym. This one was shot in Arizona and features a really impressive cast: John Ethan Wayne (the Duke's son), Bo Svenson, Henry Silva, Raimund Harmstorf and Ernest Borgnine.

Treasure of the Amazon is a trashy and violent but very enjoyable jungle adventure directed by reliable Mexican schlock director Rene Cardona Jr. So technically this is a Mexican film and not a European one but I say it's close enough - especially since it stars three Hollywood veterans who all worked extensively in Italian cinema: Stuart Whitman, Donald Pleasence and John Ireland. The interesting cast also includes everyone's favorite Mexican cult actor Hugo Stiglitz (of Nightmare City fame) and Ann Sidney (Miss World 1964).

Lola's Secret is a fairly obscure film that I haven't seen and I don't know much about it either. It's obviously some sort of erotic film, though, and this is more clearly alluded to in the original Italian title, Il peccato di Lola, which translates to 'Lola's sin'. The voluptuous Donatella Damiani, who plays Lola, specialized in these kinds of film, and director Bruno Gaburro (Erika Blanc's ex-husband) made several erotic period pieces with Paola Senatore around the same time.

Here's an ad where Spanish production company Acónito Films showcases their latest releases: Panic Beats a.k.a. Latidos de pánico, The Beast and the Magic Sword a.k.a. La bestia y la espada mágica, The Last Kamikaze a.k.a. El último kamikaze, The Child and the Vagabond a.k.a. Mi amigo el vagabundo and Operation Mantis a.k.a. Operación Mantis - all starring Spanish horror legend Paul Naschy. Naschy's co-star in most of these films is the ravishing Julia Saly, who also served as producer on all of them. If you look at the bottom of the ad, you'll see that Saly was also in charge of world sales for these films under her real name, Julia Salinero.

And now for something really interesting: an action movie named Crossfire that was written by Dardano Sacchetti (otherwise best known for writing many of Lucio Fulci's gory horror movies). Unfortunately, this project was never realized, even though three big stars had been cast: Christopher Connelly, Henry Silva and Bo Svenson. Romolo Guerrieri (who had just made the trashy but fun post-apocalypse flick The Final Executioner) was supposed to direct. I don't know why the project fell apart - especially not with a script that seemed to be ready and three pretty popular leading players.

What's really interesting, though, is that two years later, Filman International was still trying to get the Crossfire project off the ground, as we can see from this 1986 ad:

If you examine the above ad you'll see that Henry Silva was still attached to the project in 1986 but Connelly and Svenson had dropped out. A certain John Stephen (who!?) seems to have taken over the leading role. Also notice how director Romolo Guerrieri had by now been replaced with 'Joseph Warren', which is a pseudonym frequently used by director Giuseppe Vari, who had made such films as the fine WW2 flick A Place in Hell (1969) and the interesting giallo/crime hybrid Who Killed the Prosecutor and Why? (1972).

This ad also reveals a few other interesting things - for example that Giuseppe Vari was also supposed to direct the WW2 adventure Wartime, which ended up being made by Umberto Lenzi instead.

And the horror movie Aenigma, which was directed by Lucio Fulci, is credited to a certain 'Frank Shannon' here. Director Franco Prosperi had occasionally used 'Frank Shannon' as a pseudonym, so it's possible that Prosperi was originally set to direct this one but got replaced by Fulci. It's also interesting that the ad says the screenplay is by Raimondo Del Balzo and Luigi Cozzi. Their script must have undergone a lot of re-working, though, because in the finished film both the story and screenplay is credited to Fulci and Giorgio Mariuzzo.

And here we have yet another unrealized Italian action movie. This one is called Primary Objective but I haven't been able to find out much about it. The production, which was to be shot in Africa, was helmed by Ettore Spagnuolo and his production company Visione Cinematografica, which had just put out Fernando Di Leo's dismal action film The Violent Breed. I'm not sure who director 'Roy Gilbert' is, though. Mario Gariazzo often directed films under the name 'Roy Garrett' so it could perhaps be him...?

At the same time, Spagnuolo was also trying to put together a film named The Hidden Eye, which was to be directed by Enzo G. Castellari. This project didn't get made either and there's no ad for it but there's a small text telling us what it was to be "a yarn of semi-horror violence about a mother and daughter both in love with an insane man." Sounds interesting! Too bad it didn't get made.

Anyway, let's move on to the 1985 ads:

And we get even more Euro-action! Above is an ad for the German/Italian co-production Commando Leopard, one of many mercenary action flicks Antonio Margheriti made in the Philippines during the 1980s. Lewis Collins and Klaus Kinski leads the cast.

Demons doesn't really need any introduction, does it? One of Lamberto Bava's finest films, this fun and super-gory horror film is one of my personal favorites. It's a real gem of a film, and this famous poster art is very nice!

Tex and the Lord of the Deep is a movie version of the extremely popular western comic series Tex Willer that was created by Gian Luigi Bonelli in 1948. Giuliano Gemma plays Tex, while William Berger fills the role of his buddy Kit Carson under the direction of Duccio Tessari, who had already made a bunch of westerns in the 1960s. This is a colorful and cool-looking film but it isn't quite as enjoyable as it ought to have been.

The Trap a.k.a. La gabbia is a somewhat kinky erotic thriller that is seriously underrated. The amazing Laura Antonelli stars alongside Tony Musante, Florinda Bolkan and Blanca Marsillach. The screenplay was co-written by Lucio Fulci, who went on to re-use many of the same ideas in his own thriller The Devil's Honey (1986), which also stars Blanca Marsillach.

If you like cheap, laughable Euro-schlock, you can always depend on the guys at Eurocine to fill your needs. Panther Squad is a classic example of Eurocine rubbish and the ad is appropriately cheesy-looking. Really great cast, though: Sybil Danning, Jack Taylor, Donal O'Brien and Karin Schubert in one of her last roles before crossing over into pornographic films.

And last but not least we've got a color ad! In 1979, Edoardo Mulargia directed Ajita Wilson and Cristina Lai in Escape From Hell and Hotel Paradise, two extremly trashy but immensely enjoyabel Italian W.I.P. movies. In 1985, Empire Pictures edited together scenes from both films, shot about ten minutes of additional footage with Linda Blair, and released this incoherent patchwork to unsuspecting audiences as Savage Island. You'll be much better off watching the two original films (they're both trash masterpieces) but at least the artwork for Empire's bastardized version is totally awesome! You really can't go wrong with a scantly dressed Linda Blair in high heels while clutching a machine gun and showing off a giant cleavage. They just don't make 'em like they used to!

Well, that's all for now but I'll be back with some stuff from 1986/87 later on - including some Bruno Mattei stuff and Spanish horror.