Ciné-Revue was the go-to publication for movie stars seeking exposure.
Here's your official Christmas gift, a prime example of that mid-century phenomenon we discuss often, the intersection of mainstream and adult cinema during the sixties and seventies. Ciné-Revue, which was published in Belgium and distributed there and in France, Switzerland, Canada, Portugal, Britain, and the Basque region of Spain, was at the vanguard of that idea. It highlighted both popular stars and their adult counterparts, blurring the line between the two. It wasn't hard to do. Famous performers often acted in sexually oriented films, and Ciné-Revue was a platform that helped cinematic explorations of sexual ideas be taken seriously. The issue you see above is the cover of Ciné-Revue Photos 49, a visual compendium of actresses both world famous and somewhat obscure. The names run the gamut from Anita Ekberg to Marina Marfoglia. Marfoglia gets the cover, while Ekberg gets the rear, and that's exactly what we're talking about—the obscure elevated over the known. Both are also featured in multiple pages inside—but while Ekberg gets seven, Marfoglia gets eight and the centerfold. The issue is about a hundred pages, but we're unable to put together a post that long. Instead, we've selected some of the nicer images to warm up this winter day. Enjoy, and don't worry about us slaving over a computer. We put this collection together last week. Right now, on Christmas, we're traveling with the PIs.
Minuit puts the country's hospitable reputation to the test.
Ever since we discovered a while back that the U.S. tabloid Midnight was actually a spin-off of Montreal based Minuit we've been looking around for issues. We finally had some luck. This example hit Canadian newsstands today in 1968, and on the cover is British actress Mollie Peters, or Molly Peters. Inside, various Hollywood stars are spotlighted in unflattering ways. Edy Williams was allegedly attacked by a lesbian; Paul Newman resorted to transcendental meditation to cut down on his drinking; Jason Robards, Jr. broke everything Humphrey Bogart related in Lauren Bacall's house; Robert Vaughn paid off his extensive gambling debts and cancelled his credit cards; Janet Margolin allegedly ate a pound of ground beef every day for health reasons; and Ursula Andress attacked Anita Ekberg in a Paris restaurant for making eyes at Andress's boyfriend Jean-Paul Belmondo. There's also a note on Babsi Zimmermann, who Minuit claims just refused a nude role in a French film. We noticed the blurb because of her name, which seems too good to be true, and familiar too. We looked her up and she did exist. It turns out she was better known as Barbara Zimmermann. She changed her stage name after the release of her first film, a counter-culture sexploitation romp called Heißer Sand auf Sylt, aka The New Life Style (Just to Be Love). Maybe she wanted a fresh start because the movie was such a stinker. We know it was bad because we wrote about it, which is why her name sounded familiar. She's naked as a donskoy cat in it, so Minuit's claim that she refused the French movie makes sense if she wanted to rebrand herself. The change still has people confused. Currently IMDB has separate entries for Babsi and Barbara. Minuit reserves special attention for U.S. actor George Hamilton, who had been generally targeted by tabloids for avoiding military service in Vietnam. Why him? We wrote about the reason a long while back, and if you're curious you can check. Minuit wryly informs readers that, “George Hamilton somehow managed to break his toe the day after he received a notice to report to the U.S. Army recruiting center. This gives him an interesting three-month [deferral]. It's clever, isn't it?” Obviously, toes heal. Hamilton eventually received a full deferral for other reasons.
Also in this issue, Minuit editors treat readers to a story about a man cut in half by a train. We feel like it's urban folklore, but there are photos—for any who might be convinced by those—and a long story explaining how a man named Regerio Estrada caught his wife Lucia in bed with another man, beat him unconscious, and tied him to a train track to await the next express. Do we buy it? Not really. The internet contains only a fraction of all knowledge and history, but we think this tawdry tale is so bizarre that it would have found its way online. There's nothing. Or maybe we're just the first to upload it. Anything is possible. We have additional colorful Canadian tabloids we'll be sharing in the months ahead. You'll find eighteen scans below.
A beautiful old poster turns out to be a beautiful new poster.
Yes, we just showed you a nice Japanese poster for Laura, and here we are again with another promo, this one French made and very striking. There's more than one French promo for the movie, but this is a special one. It's signed by the artist—Goldman. At first we were unable to find his first name, though we did immediately find another poster he created. That piece was for Orson Welles' 1946 drama The Stranger, so at that point we were thinking Goldman was an overlooked talent from the golden age of cinema. We used all our internet mining skills and learned, according to an auction website we visited, that Goldman's poster for The Stranger was for a cinematic re-release that occurred much more recently than the 1940s. That meant Laura was probably made for a re-release too. We soon determined that both The Stranger and Laura were screened in France in August 2012. The Cinémathèque Française, which isa venerable film society housed in a building designed by Canadian architect Frank Gehry, each year offers a slate of vintage and restored films, often focusing on one or several filmmakers. In 2012 Otto Preminger, director of Laura, was one of filmmakers being honored, along with Welles, Manoel de Oliveira, Jean-Louis Trintignant, and others.
So, if we've gotten all this correct—which is no guarantee—the poster we thought was a rare piece of vintage promo art is actually a rare piece of modern promo art. And to think we always complain about modern promo art. So, okay, for the moment we're silenced, because this is excellent work. Still, though, we couldn't find out about Goldman. The internet is often heavy on noise and short on signal. With well known Goldmans out there ranging from Emma to Oscar to Sachs, we can't isolate our Goldman no matter what keyword/quotation mark/Boolean trick we try. But maybe the answer will turn up later. It often does.
He doesn't know art but he knows what he loves.
Above is a super promo poster for the 1944 film noir Laura, which starred Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, and Vincent Price. The figures, painted by an unknown, don't look anything like Tierney, Andrews, and Price, but still, we love it. The film premiered in Japan today in 1947 and was called ローラ殺人事件, which means “Laura murder.” Many film experts have written about Laura, but everything they say boils down the same conclusion—see it. Any perceived flaws are due to contemporary societal changes. Specifically—falling in love was accepted by World War II-era movie audiences as something that could happen easily, therefore filmmakers didn't have to expend much effort explaining it. In Laura, Andrews falls in love with a woman via her painted portrait. That's actually somewhat understandable, because he can make up anything he wants about her. But the movie's second instance of falling in love is more like, “Oh, this guy loves me, so I guess I love him too.” Modern filmgoers don't really buy that sort of thing, but when it comes to old films we consider it a feature, not a bug. Just skip the preliminaries and get to the lovin'. Hmm... we like that. Maybe we'll put that on a t-shirt.
She's arrived on this earthly plane to love you to death.
We said you'd see sexploitation star Laura Gemser again sooner than you thought, and here she is—or at least here's an interesting depiction of her—on a poster made in Turkey to promote her film Ateşle Oyun. That translates as “game with fire,” but the movie was known in English as Divine Emanuelle and Love Camp. There's no Turkish release date, but we're talking about it today because it premiered today in 1981 in West Germany, where it was released as Die Todesgöttin des Liebescamps, or “the death goddess of love camp.” Death goddess, eh? That doesn't sound fun, but we'll get to that in a minute. As you can see in panel two, the West German promo is nothing to write home about, which is why we decided to focus on the Turkish art. It's signed by an illustrator named Ömer Muz. We looked him up and got many hits, but with no way of knowing whether any of them were the Muz we were seeking. A few of them were artists, and one was even an art director in movies back in the early 1980s, but final identification eluded us.
Die Todesgöttin des Liebescamps was written, directed by, and co-starred Christian Anders, an Austrian musician/singer/composer and man-in-over-his-head in terms of technical ability. His character oversees a free-love cult on Cyprus called Children of Light. He's the servant of the Divine One, played by Gemser, who bathes in milk, parades around topless while flanked by an oiled up bodybuilder, and preaches an apocalyptic schadenfreude doctrine that sounds a lot like the Rapture. In her cult, you can give love freely, but cannot be in love. “Love for only one person is egosim,” she puts it. “When two people love each other they shut the world out. That's a sin.” Basically, that means the cult is an ongoing orgy. Rulebreakers get slapped around or whipped. Gemser even whips herself occasionally. She's a true believer.
The plot kicks into gear, sort of, when one of the cult babes decides she wants to leave and is instead thrown off a cliff by the oiled up bodybuilder guy. There had to be a dark side to all this sex, and that dark side is you can check in anytime you like but you can never leave. We next learn that the police have become suspicious about missing cult members and have inserted an undercover operative who's poking around even as Gemser tries to indoctrinate an heiress and soak her down for her fortune. Will the undercover cop learn the truth of the cult? Will Gemser expose him? Will she expose herself? On the latter score, fans will be satisfied, rest assured. But for objective film buffs, we have to tell you that, like most Gemser efforts, this flick is terrible.
But it's also significant because there's bizarre trivia associated with it. Most notably, David Koresh has a small role. You perhaps remember him? As the leader of the Branch Davidian cult he sought to create a new lineage of world leaders, had sexual partners as young as ten years old, and finally died in 1993 with seventy-five disciples during a fire that broke out at the cult's compound during an FBI raid. On top of all that, writer director Anders propagated various conspiracy theories in books and interviews. The lesson is don't take a movie script too seriously. Especially a sexploitation script. Die Todesgöttin des Liebescamps premiered today in 1981.
Witness me, little ones! Are my abdominals not out of this world? Bring forth the divine ointments and sexual lubes! I and my slippery, steroid enraged servant shall now engage in the holy rite of hot raw sex. You may want to rewind this part a few times. I came here to find myself, and she gives me this room. Feels like she's mocking me. There's something to find right under these holy raiments, little lost blonde one. Divine One, I prefer this female version of myself. Diversity is good and all, but we're a matched set. Hope you're okay with that. Throw them both into the pit of eternal-despair-without-hope-of-redemption-or-surcease! Hmm... probably need to shorten that name. And who forgot to order the lube for today's orgy? Throw him in the whatever pit too! I'm a cruel goddess, it's true. But behold the everloving fuck out of this!
Gemser always makes sure a fun time is had by all.
Above is another Japanese poster for Laura Gemser's Italian sexploitation flick Emanuelle nera, which premiered in 1975 and reached Japan today in 1976. The art shows Gemser getting frisky poolside with French actress Isabelle Marchall, who made numerous sexploitation and giallo movies. The title of this in Japanese means “love of Emanuelle,” and we echo that sentiment—which is to say, though Gemser's Emanuelle films are abysmally bad, we love them as products of an era of freewheeling, guilt-free erotic cinema.
Watching the films on cable television during our youth, they somewhat affected our views on travel and sex, neither of which we had experienced yet. We explained this influence in our write-up on Mia Nygren's Emmanuelle IV way back. At their best, Gemser's Emanuelle movies (yes, it's spelled differently than Nygren's) were straightforward celebrations of sex, while at their worst they were influenced by horror and action movies, such as the one where she takes on cannibals, and the one where she smashes a ring of snuff filmmakers. Emanuelle nera has few pretensions—Gemser goes to Nairobi and gets laid. You can see everything else we have on the movie here, here, and here. Gemser will be back. Probably sooner than you think.
This has nothing to do with genocide and land theft, English! I just hate your fucking face!
On this cover for Lauran Paine's novel The Farthest Frontier, illustrator Roger Hall depicts how even in the midst of tectonic historical upheavals there are moments of interpersonal drama. Like this knife fight, which started over confusion about whether trade talks were dressy casual, or just casual. 1957 copyright.
Gemser exercises her right to bare arms—and everything else too.
We try to document the top erotic stars of yesteryear—Lindberg, Forså, Annie Belle, Izumi Shima. Today it's Laura Gemser's turn again, this time starring in Emanuelle in America, which premiered in Italy today in 1977. This entry is third, fourth, or seventh in her Emanuelle series, depending on how you count them, and sees her investigating a multi-national sex trafficking ring that kidnaps women and kills them for the production of underground snuff films. That synopsis and the fact that the movie is helmed by Joe D'Amato are all you need to hear to suspect this is going all sorts of disturbing places, and indeed, your worst fears will be realized, as scenes of documentary-style transgressive violence occur, and there's a scene of a woman stroking off a horse. Fortunately, the snuff sequences are fake. They were staged by Italian special effects experts Giannetto de Rossi and Maurizio Trani. The horse thing? That's real.
Okay, so let's forget those problems for now. What's the thrust of the movie? It's a scathing indictment of the decadent wealthy, people who money has deadened inside and who must buy increasingly depraved thrills to bring stimulation to their lives. During the course of Gemser's investigation she goes undercover as a high priced call girl, jets from the U.S. to Venice to the Caribbean and back to the States, gets naked or topless numerous times, and has her skinny body handled and squeezed by man and woman alike, including her real-life husband Gabriele Tinti. As usual her sexual powers are transformative. For instance a carjacker wants to kill her but has never experienced sex and has his lid flipped by his first blowjob. Later a call girl with no self worth comes to see the world in a brighter light after a slippery steam room session with Gemser. She's like a superhero—with a superpower you really have to marvel at.
We won't tell you how the whole snuff plotline resolves. You'll just have to watch—all the way to the baffling postscript. Should you decide to partake, you'll probably end up with a version of the movie that has hardcore sequences featuring porn actresses Paola Senatore and Marina Lotar inserted, so to speak. Usually such scenes shred continuity, and they do here too, as well as failing to add much to the overall erotic value of the film. We'll admit though, that the bit where a woman sticks daisies in a man's nest of pubes then says, “Your bush is in flower,” was funny. The other high point is Gemser, hitting her stride here as the Emanuelle character, looking her best, making stick-thin more alluring than she has any right to. She does the same in many additional entries. A few of those efforts are better, but many are far worse, so we'll have to call Emanuelle in America above average.
Laura Gemser rides Emanuelle to international fame.
We're looping back to Italian promo art today with this poster for Emanuelle nera, known in English as Black Emmanuelle. We already talked about the movie here, but didn't share this particular poster, a nice, understated effort for what is a pretty wild film. This was Gemser's third cinematic outing, but her first as the character of Emanuelle, which she'd reprise multiple times. Notice she's billed on the poster as “Emanuelle.” She acted under that name briefly before appearing under her real name, and the rest is softcore history. We have her entire film output, so you can be sure we'll get back to her later. Emanuelle nera premiered in Italy today in 1975.
Documentary explores the allure of erotic dance through time.
Here's some random Italian pleasantness today, two posters for the documentary Sexy, which focused on erotic dancers from ancient Egypt through the French Revolution and into the age of modern burlesque. This was soundtracked with music from Ricki (Ricky) Gianco, and some of the dancers include Rita Himalaya, Lin Chen, and the Sexy Twisters, whose act we'd give plenty to see. No such luck, though, because as far as we know the movie isn't available in any format. Too bad. We don't know if it's meant to inform so much as titillate, but we'd love to see what it has about Egypt. Well, we can hope. Obscure movies become accessible all the time. Sexy doesn't have a premiere date, but it came out sometime in 1962.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1957—Ginsberg Poem Seized by Customs
On the basis of alleged obscenity, United States Customs officials seize 520 copies of Allen Ginsberg's poem "Howl" that had been shipped from a London printer. The poem contained mention of illegal drugs and explicitly referred to sexual practices. A subsequent obscenity trial was brought against Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who ran City Lights Bookstore, the poem's domestic publisher. Nine literary experts testified on the poem's behalf, and Ferlinghetti won the case when a judge decided that the poem was of redeeming social importance.
1975—King Faisal Is Assassinated
King Faisal of Saudi Arabia dies after his nephew Prince Faisal Ibu Musaed shoots him during a royal audience. As King Faisal bent forward to kiss his nephew the Prince pulled out a pistol and shot him under the chin and through the ear. King Faisal died in the hospital after surgery. The prince is later beheaded in the public square in Riyadh.
1981—Ronnie Biggs Rescued After Kidnapping
Fugitive thief Ronnie Biggs, a British citizen who was a member of the gang that pulled off the Great Train Robbery, is rescued by police in Barbados after being kidnapped. Biggs had been abducted a week earlier from a bar in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by members of a British security firm. Upon release he was returned to Brazil and continued to be a fugitive from British justice.
2011—Elizabeth Taylor Dies
American actress Elizabeth Taylor, whose career began at age 12 when she starred in National Velvet
, and who would eventually be nominated for five Academy Awards as best actress and win for Butterfield 8
and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
of congestive heart failure in Los Angeles. During her life she had been hospitalized more than 70 times.
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