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søndag 20. mars 2011

Lost film #4: Paura

Italy, 1972

Directed by Luigi Russo

Rosario Borelli, Kai Fischer, Rosalba Grottesi, Patrizia Gori

Unfinished, unreleased or lost films have always intrigued me, and it is really interesting to try and piece together information about such projects. One lost film that is particularly fascinating is the thriller Paura (or Fear as it translates to in English), which was written and directed by little-known filmmaker Luigi Russo, who spent most of his career making various skin flicks such as the Blue Lagoon rip-off Blue Island (1982) with Sabrina Siani. Paura was Russo's directorial debut and it has never been released. Apparently, shooting was completed but it ran into post-production difficulties and was never edited or dubbed.

Due to its unavailability there is little information available on Paura but, fortunately, great Italian magazine Cinesex ran a piece on the film in early 1972. The article includes both pictures and a plot summary that helps give you an idea about what the film is like.

According to the plot summary in the Cinesex article, Paura opens in brutal fashion: a beautiful girl named Orsola is violently raped by three masked men. Orsola becomes pregnant after the rape and eventually gives birth to a deformed and grotesque son - a "monster". But in spite of his physical appearance and the circumstances under which he was conceived, Orsola loves her son and she wants to protect him from the gazing eyes of people who do not accept anything that is different. Hence, she takes her baby son and hides with him in the abandoned underground level of an old theater.

Cut to 20 years later. The "monster" is now grown up - having spent his entire life in the theater's abandoned underground level and never having seen other people than his mother. One day, however, an acting troupe consisting of four men and four women arrive at the theater to rehearse a play. Apparently, several of the actors are quite horny, and in between rehearsals they sneak off to look for isolated spots to have sex. Naturally, they end up in the theater's underground area and start to go at it without knowing that they are being watched by the "monster". Having never been exposed to sex before, the "monster" snaps after witnessing all the copulating, and starts killing the unsuspecting theater actors one by one.

From the plot description, Paura appears to be more of a horror movie than a giallo, and it sounds fairly bizarre. According to the Cinesex article, the killer only murders the men, whom he considers as sexual rivals (although he does kill one unfortunate woman too because her short hair made him think that she was a man!) and this is a rather unusual touch. The women figure prominently in the many sex scenes, though, and the Cinesex article includes several stills from a lesbian scene between the sexy platinum blonde Patrizia Gori and another unidentified actress. Below are some scans of this lesbian love scene:

The Cinesex article briefly mentions that Paura stars Richard Melvill, Kai Fischer, Rosalba Grottesi and Patrizia Gori, but it doesn't say anything about the roles they play. Let's take a little closer look at these four actors, though.

First off, Richard Melvill is actually a pseudonym that was used by Italian actor Rosario Borelli in a couple of early 1970s films.

Rosario Borelli as he looked in The Cynic, the Rat & the Fist (1977)

Borelli had been a popular leading man in the 1950s but when he got older he switched to directing and acting in violent photo-novels such as "Antar" and "Killing", and playing supporting roles in Euro-crime movies. At the time Paura was filmed, Borelli was in his mid 40s, so clearly it cannot be him who plays the monster (who is supposed to be 20). Presumably, he plays one of the actors - or maybe the director. No director is specifically mentioned in the plot summary but it seems likely that such a character could be present and it would fit Borelli age-wise.

Then we have Kai Fischer, a popular German actress known for numerous krimis such as Room 13 and The Monster of London City (both 1964), and Mel Welles' cult horror movie Man Eater of Hydra (1967).

Kai Fischer in a still from Room 13

Fischer was pushing 40 when Paura was made, so it seems like a fair guess that she plays the role of Orsola, the mother of the "monster".

Beautiful and likeable blonde starlet Patrizia Gori plays one of the horny young theater actresses, and she figures prominently in the pictures of the lesbian scene printed in Cinesex.

Patrizia Gori photographed by the famous Angelo Frontoni in 1973

Gori was just getting her career started when she appeared in Paura, and she seemed to be suffering from bad luck. Not only was Paura never released but her next film, the obscure giallo Crazy Desires of a Murderer (1973), was also shelved for several years. She soon found success, though, in sleaze classics such as Emanuelle and Françoise (1975), Cries and Shadows (1975) and Elsa Fräulein SS (1977), and was married for several years to porno director Franco Lo Cascio (a.k.a. Luca Damiano).

Also listed as a cast member is the gorgeous, raven-haired Rosalba Grottesi. Although she only appeared in a handful of films, Grottesi had enormous success as both leading ladies and femme fatales in photo-novels during the 1960s and 70s, and she would continue to play supporting parts in photo-novels up until her retirement in 2001.

Rosalba Grottesi in a photo-novel from 1973

Again, there is no mention about what kind of character she plays in the film but I think it is reasonable to assume that she plays one of the theater actresses.

This is pretty much all the information I've been able to dig up about Paura. As I've already mentioned, Luigi Russo apparently finished shooting the film and the footage is supposed to still exist. It has never been edited or dubbed, though, and quite frankly, I find it highly unlikely that it ever will be after so many years. And that's a great shame because Paura sounds just like the kind of film I'd like to watch. It has some really cool actors, the plot sound delightfully bizarre, and I imagine that the theater setting could be used to very atmospheric effect as it was in later films like The Killer Reserved Nine Seats (1974) and Stagefright (1987).

lørdag 15. november 2008

Lost film #3: Tempo d'immagini

Italy, 1970

Director: Adimaro Sala

Umberto Di Grazia, Maria Pia Giancaro, Dino Mele

Here's another completely obscure Italian film that appears to have disappeared almost entirely: an erotic melodrama called Tempo d'immagini, which was directed by a little-known filmmaker by the name of Adimaro Sala. A pretty low-budget film with only three actors, the film was registered with a visa number (which are issued to all Italian films) in October 1970 but for whatever reason the film was shelved for a great number of years - not given a theatrical release until in 1988!!!

Whatever happened to the film after that is anyone's guess. It doesn't appear to have been released on VHS and it's not even listed in the IMDb or any other notable movie databases.

However, a photo novel version (a so-called cineromanzo) of the film was published in the Italian cineromanzo magazine Topfilm in June 1971. Topfilm also had a French sister-magazine called Playfilm, which was identical in content; the only exception being that Playfilm was in French text instead of Italian. The photo novel version of Tempo d'immagini was published in Playfilm in October 1971 under the French title Temps d'images, and I have been fortunate enough to get my hands on this magazine.

The cover of the Playfilm magazine. The image is not from Tempo d'immagini, however. Instead it shows the stunning French actress Veronique Vendell in a shot from the German sex comedy Virgin on the Verge (1970)

Thanks to this photo novel it is possible to form somewhat of an impression as to what kind of film this is. The story is actually very simple. It deals with two young lovers named Joe and Jannette.

Jannette is played by the gorgeous Maria Pia Giancaro, a notable genre actress in Italian films in the 1970s, who played memorable roles in stuff like Emilio Miraglia's giallo The Red Queen Kills Seven Times (1972) and Mario Siciliano's occult thriller Evil Eye (1974).

Maria Pia Giancaro

Jannette's lover, Joe, is played by Umberto Di Grazia, who was one of the many C.S.C. actors (like Carla Mancini, Luigi Antonio Guerra, Lorenzo Piani etc) that were credited for tax reasons and often didn't actually appear in the films they were credited in. When C.S.C. actors actually did appear, they usually played rather insubstantial roles. Thus, it is quite a surprise to see Di Grazia playing the leading role here. I'm assuming that director Adimaro Sala liked him a lot because he had previously used Di Grazia in a leading role in his La pelle a scacchi (1969), another obscure film with only a handful of actors.

Umberto Di Grazia

Anyway, it seems that Joe and Jannette like to drink whisky and fool around while wearing strange white robes and big fur hats.

Joe and Jannette have fun with whisky and fur hats

There's also a fair bit of sex going on but judging by the way it's shot, it looks as if the sex scenes are a tad on the "artsy" side.

Artsy sex and nudity aplenty

Everything is all nice and jolly until Jannette starts to get involved with another man (Dino Mele). Eventually, Joe finds out about this and it leads to violence...

Jannette and the other man

The inevitable eruption of violence

Obviously, it's difficult to properly judge and appreciate the mood and atmosphere of the film when one only has the photo novel to go by but at least it gives us an idea of what the film would be like. The story is simple and the film obviously cost next to nothing but it looks interesting enought for me to want to check it out. Maria Pia Giancaro certainly looks very lovely here. Hopefully, Tempo d'immagini isn't completely lost and can be rescued from obscurity.

The cast:

Umberto Di Grazia as Joe

Maria Pia Giancaro as Jannette

Dino Mele as The other man

tirsdag 10. juni 2008

Lost film #2: Le leonesse

Italy, 1971

Director: Unknown

Nadja Tiller, Carla Romanelli, Edda Di Bendetto, Lorenzo Piani

Another Italian film that seems to have vanished into thin air is the erotic drama Le leonesse (the lionesses) which was shot in early 1971.

Very little is known about this lost film. What little information I have been able to find came from the Italian magazine "Men", which printed an article about the film's leading lady, popular Austrian actress Nadja Tiller, in April 1971. Tiller was making several films in Italy around this time, including Emma Hamilton (1968), Death Knocks Twice (1968), The Silk Worm (1969) and The Etruscan Kills Again (1971), and in the "Men" article she talks about her latest film, Le leonesse.

Apparently, Tiller (who was 42 at the time) stars as a scandalous mother who fights her daughter (Carla Romanelli) and the daughter's friend (Edda Di Benedetto) for the love of the same man. All three women use their bodies and female charms to succeed. The question is who of the three is the biggest "lioness"...

Some pictures from the film - scanned from "Men":

A sex scene with Nadja Tiller and Lorenzo Piani

Another shot of Tiller and Piani

Unfortunately, no director is mentioned in the article and it remains unclear what happened to the film. It is not listed in any film databases so it was probably never released. The big question is whether or not production closed down before the film was finished, or if it was completed and lies unreleased in a vault somewhere. I guess the chances of Le leonesse ever being unearthed are slim but one can always hope. It sounds like a nice little film.

lørdag 7. juni 2008

Lost film #1: The Man from Corleone/L'uomo di Corleone

Italy, 1977

Directed by Duilio Colletti

Marcel Bozzuffi, Irene Papas, Adolfo Celi, Andrea Ferreol, Gabriele Ferzetti, Laura Belli, Marino Masé, Vittorio Mezzogiorno, Leopoldo Trieste

Among the countless enjoyable Italian films from the 60s, 70s and 80s there are, unfortunately, a few titles have seem to have completely disappeared and not been seen by anyone. Some have disappeared after their theatrical run and never shown up again on VHS or DVD or in TV screenings. Others finished shooting but ran into various post-production problems which caused them to never be released at all.

One film that has mysteriously vanished is Duilio Coletti's The Man From Corleone, an ambitious crime film from 1977 full of well-regarded European actors. It seems to have been a big project and had a large cast, yet it doesn't appear to have been released theatrically in Italy. A few online film databases do have a listing for this film but no actual information about its plot or release.

A two-page ad for the film in the sales catalogue magazine Nuovo Cinema Europeo - announcing the film rights for sale in Cannes.

Exactly what happened to The Man From Corleone is not known. In recent years, several Italian TV channels have announced that they will air the film - only to replace it with something else at the last minute. This deepens the mystery but we can only keep our fingers crossed and hope that the film will be unearthed some time. It certainly looks interesting and has a top-notch cast!