Bathing suit? Check. Sun tan oil? Check. Now all I need is a map to the beach.
Back in November we shared a photo of Italian star Elsa Martinelli on a Brazilian beach. Above you see her wearing the same swimsuit in a studio shot that was used on the cover of Parade magazine around 1970. Since she's wearing the same suit we know she made it to the beach eventually. Hopefully she conserved valuable oil by heading straight there after the final frame of this session.
Even paradise can be improved.
Italian actress Elsa Martinelli makes a beautiful beach look even better in this nice promo image, and we can only assume she didn't go in the water with all those necklaces on, because otherwise she might have sunk and been lost forever. Martinelli was an era spanning star who debuted onscreen in 1953, made numerous excellent films, including The Indian Fighter and Et mourir de plaisir, won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 6th Berlin International Film Festival in 1956, and accumulated more than fifty screen and television credits through 2004. The above photo was shot in Brazil around 1970.
One of Rome's foremost celeb photographers gives On the Q.T. the lowdown on his profession.
We managed to buy this issue of On the Q.T. published in July 1963 for seven dollars, which is about the range we prefer for a tabloid that's often overpriced. Inside we found Shirley MacLaine, Melina Mercouri, Elsa Martinelli, Richard Burton and Liz Taylor. As expected the focus is on Hollywood, but in this issue the piece that jumped out at us was an insider's account of the Italian paparazzi lifestyle written by top paparazzo Vito Canessi. He details his techniques for obtaining photos, his legal obligations, and the lengths some paps go to in getting saleable shots.
One of his examples involves taunting a target into a chase: “When French sexpot Brigitte Bardot and her flame of the moment, actor Sammy Frey, were conducting a sizzling romance which ranged across most of Italy, the paparazzi taunted love-hungry but brave Sammy into chasing them. But unknown to Sammy, his furious foot race was being photographed by other paparazzi behind him. It was a hilarious set of pictures of frail Sam, arms swinging and feet churning, zig-zagging through the streets of Rome...”
But sometimes their tactics backfire. Paparazzo Umberto Spragna, a 260-pound giant, tried to shoot photos of the married Burt Lancaster walking in Rome with Italian starlet Beatrice Altariba. “The big photog didn't know it, but Lancaster is quite a man himself. He found himself flying through the air, his camera smashed, and a furious Lancaster punching him liberally. The paparazzo fled the scene. Later he sued the actor for assault. Lancaster simply ignored the action and it was forgotten. That kind of thing gives me cold chills.”
Paparazzi behavior was closely examined—briefly—decades later with the paparazzi-involved death of Princess Diana of Wales. But a look at various celeb videos from recent years reveal the paps to be basically unchanged, as they sometimes taunt celebrities verbally, hoping for photographable retaliation. But one need not feel more than passingly sorry for celebs. Occasional harassment is the price of fame. It may be unpleasant, but it's better than working for a living.
Though paparazzi come under the umbrella of defenders of press rights, with their often malleable ethics they're probably not people you'd have at your dinner table. It often works that way. Rights defenders tend to be either people actually testing the limits of rights, or people negatively affected by forces that would curtail those rights. Either way, they're sometimes outside the social mainstream. But the rights they defend apply to all. Thirty scans below.
Perversion never goes out of style.
Years ago we briefly discussed the Marisa Mell thriller Una sull’atra and shared an Angelo Cesselon poster made for its Italian run. Well, we're back to the movie today with a poster made for its Spanish run under the title Una historia perversa. The illustration was painted by Francisco Fernandez Zarza-Pérez, who signed his work as Jano, and was one of Spain's more prolific cinematic illustrators. We put together a small collection of his work a while back and you can check that out here. Una historia perversa made its Spanish premiere in Barcelona today in 1969.
Carmilla’s in the mist.
When we shared a poster for Roger Vadim’s Il sangue e la rosa way back in 2009 we didn’t talk about the movie. But since we found this beautiful alternate promo to show you, we thought we’d watch the film again to refresh our memories. It’s an ethereal gothic drama about a woman caught in a love triangle who is subsequently possessed by a vampire after an accidental explosion opens the monster’s centuries buried tomb. It feels like a supernatural version of Emily Brontë, but the source material was actually from Sheridan le Fanu, whose vampire story Carmilla predates Bram Stoker’s Dracula by more than twenty years. Long on lustful gazes, lingering fog, and lilting harp music, short on chills and thrills, Il sangue e la rosa is more of a Vadim art piece than a conventional film, but it has some charms, personified by Elsa Martinelli and Annette Vadim, aka Annette Stroyberg. Il sangue e la rosa premiered in Italy today in 1961. See the other poster here.
Getting the most out of challenging positions.
Did we not just see Raquel Welch yesterday, as well as earlier this week? Indeed we did, but we assume you don’t mind the return engagement. This Japanese poster with her and Michèle Mercier was made to promote the comedy Le plus vieux métier du monde, aka The Oldest Profession, which played in France in 1967 but didn’t appear in Japan until today in 1971. We watched it last night, and it's a six-part anthology dealing with prostitution through the ages. For example, the first sketch is set during prehistory—that time inhabited by slender Anglo Saxon fashion models—another is set in ancient Rome, and another during the Parisian gay nineties, where Welch makes her appearance wearing corsets and speaking French. The last segment, directed by Jean-Luc Godard, takes place in the future. Or what used to be the future in 1967—the year 2000.
While all the skits deal with prostitution, some also deal with money, and the efforts of the female characters to obtain it. For instance Welch finds out her dumpy customer is a banker and the rest of the segment follows her ultimately successful gambit to trick him into marrying her. Besides Welch and Michèle Mercier, the movie features top sixties sex symbols Elsa Martinelli, Jeanne Moreau, Anna Karina, Marilù Tolo, and Nadia Gray. That's a lot of star power in a somewhat low wattage movie, but there are laughs here, as long as you accept going in that comedies about prostitutes are not in any way realistic or politically correct. One great by-product of Le plus vieux métier du monde was a great Welch promo shoot, of which we have photos below. These will probably make you want to watch the film no matter what we think of it.
Only in Italian film can hard labor make you better looking.
If you’re thinking this West German poster for Sophia Loren’s 1954 drama Die Frau vom Fluss, aka La donna del fiume, aka The River Girl looks a bit like this promo for Riso Amaro, you're right—and the actual films are quite similar too. During the 1950s Italian filmmakers produced at least a few movies with identical blueprints—i.e. improbably hot peasant girls performing hard labor somewhere in the Po Valley while wearing bodyhugging clothing. Generally, the girls dream of better circumstances but possess little means to achieve such an end—until into their lives tumble dudes with big plans.
Sounds like light fare, but sultry summer settings and sexy attire notwithstanding, these were serious films—usually tragedies. Where the staple food in Riso Amaro (and Elsa Martinelli’s 1956 drama La risaia) was rice, here it’s eels. Loren works in an eel cannery by day, dances a mean mambo during her spare hours and, like Silvana Mangano in Riso Amaro, finds herself torn between a decent bore and a thrilling criminal. The choice she makes opens up a whole different can of eels and she spends the rest of the film having to manage the consequences. That’s about all we’ll say, except that we watched the flick last night and more or less enjoyed it. As for Loren, she’s 100% more and 0% less, a big personality whose stardom was a matter of destiny. The movie is worth seeing just because of her.
The magazine that whispered rape.
Inside Story of August 1957 offers up stories on Elsa Martinelli, Ann Sothern, Clark Gable and others, but the subhead reading “The Night Audrey Hepburn Can’t Forget” is irresistible. So what happened on the night in question? Nothing fun, unfortunately. Fully expecting to read about some wild party or drunken escapade, journo Gwen Ferguson instead tells us that in 1942, when Hepburn was a Dutch teen named Audrey Kathleen Ruston, she was “brutally kidnapped and subjected to terrible indignities” by a Nazi soldier. As is typical for mid-century tabloids, this claim comes not from direct interviews, but rather from a fly-on-the-wall third person account. In this case, the magazine claims she confessed what happened to prospective husband Mel Ferrer, pictured next to her below, because she wanted him to have a chance to rescind his marriage proposal. The implication is clear—“indignities” is a euphemism for rape. Or else why would Ferguson suggest Ferrer might turn tail and run?
In light of all the discussion about rape lately, it’s instructive to go back in time and read such an incendiary insinuation presented so casually in a national magazine, probably by some pseudonymous male editor, if tradition holds true. Looking for corroboration, we found only stories about Hepburn living in constant fear of being kidnapped, but that’s all. In no place we looked did we find any reference to her actually being taken, let alone violated. So we don’t know where Inside Story got its information. That being the case, we have to call bullshit. Inside Story goes on to wrap its dubious claim in the truth by telling readers how Hepburn’s uncle was executed by Nazis—true; how she gave secret ballet performances to generate funds for the Dutch resistance—true; and how she used tulip bulbs to make the flour needed for cakes and biscuits, but went through the war malnourished and underweight—true and true. As for the other claim—if untrue, it’s pretty low, and if true, it’s both low and irresponsible. Even by the standards of mid-century scandal sheets.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1942—Blimp Crew Disappears without a Trace
The two-person crew of the U.S. naval blimp L-8 disappears on a routine patrol over the Pacific Ocean. The blimp drifts without her crew and crashes in Daly City, California. The mystery of the crew's disappearance is never solved.
1977—Elvis Presley Dies
Music icon Elvis Presley is found unresponsive by his fiancée on the floor of his Graceland bedroom suite. Attempts to revive him fail and he's pronounced dead soon afterward. The cause of death is often cited as drug overdose, but toxicology tests have never found evidence this was the case. More likely, years of drug abuse contributed to generally frail health and an overtaxed heart that suddenly failed.
1969—Woodstock Festival Begins
The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, which was billed as an Aquarian Exposition, takes place on a 600 acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York. It would run for three sometimes rainy days and feature thirty-two acts performing at all hours of the day and night. Today the festival is regarded as one of the greatest events in popular music history.
1977—Radio Signal Arrives from Deep Space
An unidentified radio signal, nicknamed the WOW Signal for the notation a scientist made on a computer readout, is briefly detected by the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) project's Big Ear radio telescope. Despite a month of searching the same section of space, the signal is never found again.
1912—U.S. Invades Nicaragua
United States Marines invade Nicaragua to support the U.S.-backed government installed there after José Santos Zelaya had resigned three years earlier. American troops remain for eleven years.
1936—Last Public Execution in U.S.
Rainey Bethea, who had been convicted of rape and murder, is hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky in what is the last public execution performed in the United States.
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