Raquel Welch's global hit One Million Years B.C. spawns another bad imitation.
There's little to say about When Women Had Tails. It's terrible Italian slapstick, complete with pratfalls and camel flatulence, punctuating a story dealing with a group of isolated cavemen who discover their first woman—Senta Berger. They want to roast and eat her, but she convinces one of them there are other satisfactions she can provide. We imagine this involves a little eating too, and the movie would be better if it showed something along those lines, but no such luck. Blame Raquel Welch for this fiasco, because once again this is an attempt to replicate the formula of her smash hit One Million Years B.C.—a bad attempt, far worse than When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, which we talked about recently. If you truly desire you can watch When Women Had Tails on YouTube here. It takes a full twenty-one minutes of idiotic slapstickery for the cavemen to finally come across Berger, but after that the movie is watchable, we think. It premiered in Italy as Quando le donne avevano la coda in October 1970, and had its U.S. unveiling today in 1973. Bad as it is, we can't resist these prehistoric fantasies, and we'll forge ahead bravely to the next.
She makes lame parties better.
Above, a very nice Italian poster for Raquel Welch's 1975 dramedy Party selvaggio, aka The Wild Party, an alternate promo to one we shared a few years back. The film wasn't good, but hey—it has Welch, and that's never a total waste of time. You can read about it and see the other poster here.
She's by far the best ingredient in Flareup but the cocktail still goes flat.
Raquel Welch’s 1969 thriller Flareup might be worth watching for the amazing opening credit sequence, which is good, because you certainly don’t want to watch it for the actual film. Don't get us wrong—anything with Welch in it is worth a glance but this one is really bad. First clue? The theme song, in which Les Baxter backs a cheeseball singer intoning, “Gonna be a flare up… flare up!” Since the intro sequence seems visually inspired by James Bond movies, maybe the idea of using the actual title in the theme song à la Shirley Bassey's “Goldfinger,” or Lulu's “The Man with the Golden Gun,” seemed like a logical next step. Bad idea, though, because the song is laughably terrible.
Immediately after the credits the story opens with that most American of events—an attempted mass killing—as a Vegas go-go dancer is shot in a restaurant by her estranged husband. Welch plays Michele, the victim's friend whose advice helped spawn divorce proceedings. Because of this the husband tries to perforate her as well, never quite managing to get a clear shot as she dodges amongst the restaurant's ferns and potted palms. The husband escapes the scene of the crime and when the police arrive they agree that vengeance will continue to be on his mind and Michele should be extremely careful.
But a girl has to earn a living even if she's the target of a maniac. Even if she's refused police protection for reasons that aren't clear. Even if she works into the wee hours and parks her car in the Plutonian nether reaches of the public lot. So that night she goes to the club and gyratesonstage to the groovy strains of a song called—care to guess?—“Micheeeeele… I like the way you move... I like the way you dance … I like the way you groove… Oh! Micheeeeele… Call your mama… Michele call your papa… I got something to say…. Hey hey hey… hey hey hey…. Heeeeeeeey hey hey hey hey hey hey…” You get the idea.
Welch suffers a near miss from her stalker and at that point skips town for Los Angeles, where she falls into bed with the first guy she meets—the valet at her new go-go club, because valets are well known for pulling the hottest women on the planet. In between enjoying copious helpings of Welch's passionfruit juice the new boyfriend promises to act as bodyguard, but it's Welch herself who must take matters into her own hands and dispatch her tormentor in brutal fashion when he shows up in town.
Everything with this movie is off—script, direction, action, everything. The acting is uniformly horrific too, including from Welch, though she's orders of magnitude better than her co-stars. Put Flareup on around even your dullest friends and they’ll all be shining comedic geniuses by the second act. The script lobs up softball after softball, serious MST3K level material. In fact, hang on, let us check—nope, looks like Mystery Science Theater never spoofed Flareup. Well, they should have.
There are too many great lines and ridiculous moments to enumerate but the one that really got us came at about a hundred minutes when a character asks Welch if she works at the hospital down the road. Welch giggles and says, “Yeah sure—I’m a brain surgeon.” Flareup premiered in New York City in November 1969 and hit Japan today in 1970, where it was called Denjâ, which means "Danger."
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.
Welch proves that lust is good.
Above, an alternate Japanese poster for Stanley Donen’s 1967 man-sells-soul-to-devil comedy Bedazzled, starring Dudley Moore, Peter Cook, and Eleanor Bron, with Raquel Welch rather appropriately cast as the character Lust. Bedazzled premiered in the U.S. today in 1967.
He might have broken the law, but he had a higher calling.
What’s an illustrator to do when he doesn’t have a model? Borrow a celebrity. And if you’re going to use a celeb you might as well take inspiration from the best. French artist Michel Gourdon decided upon the era’s most celestial sex goddess Raquel Welch for his cover of M.G. Braun’s Sam et Sally—Le sang du ciel, published in 1972 by Editions Fleuve Noir as part of its Collection Spécial Police. This would not be the last time Gourdon used Welch as a model, but it’s probably the best example.
This sort of appropriation was not unique to Gourdon. During this same period Italian artist Mario De Berardinis used Playboy Playmate of the Year Cyndi Wood for his poster promoting the film Giro girotondo... con il sesso è bello il mondo, Sharon Tate was used for at least two late 1960s paperback covers, Lavar Burton was borrowed for the front of an ultraviolent Italian fumetto, Ornella Muti provided the physical basis for the main character of the vampire series Sukia, Beba and Fiona of the Pornostar comics were based on two showgirls from Striscia la notizia, and none other than Iggy Pop appeared on the cover of Elvifrance’s Wallestein.
All of these examples using celebrity images for profit would be violations of intellectual property laws today, we’re fairly certain, but we could be wrong about that. Were they illegal in the past? Not in Italy, apparently—Ornella Muti must have known her image was being borrowed, since she worked primarily in Italy and Sukia was published there. Same goes for the Striscia la notizia showgirls. Maybe they were flattered. If so, they should have looked inside the comics, where their characters were ripping throats out and shanking dudes in the groin. In any case, we love curiosities like these, and we’ll doubtless run across more later.
The languages were different but we’re pretty sure the appreciation for Raquel Welch was the same.
We’re looping back to the former Yugoslavia today, this time with a rare film program for Raquel Welch’s One Million Years B.C. If it seems we just talked about this movie, you’re right. We shared a promo from the film last week. What you see above is the front of a dual language promo pamphlet, half written in… well we aren’t sure. The language situation is complicated there. Half in Serbo-Croatian and half in Slovenian, we think. Feel free to correct us. In any case, it’s a pretty cool little item.
Were they selling the movie or only its star?
Do they still run ads in newspapers for motion picture releases? The one above ran in dozens of U.S. papers during the run-up to the release of One Million Years B.C., the Raquel Welch lost world flick that cemented her status as a leading sex symbol. The ad (which seems to promote mainly Welch, since we don’t learn the name of the film until we read the fine print at bottom), appeared today in 1966, and One Million Years B.C. followed in February. Bikinis haven’t been the same since.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1930—Chrysler Building Opens
In New York City, after a mere eighteen months of construction, the Chrysler Building opens to the public. At 1,046 feet, 319 meters, it is the tallest building in the world at the time, but more significantly, William Van Alen's design is a landmark in art deco that is celebrated to this day as an example of skyscraper architecture at its most elegant.
1969—Jeffrey Hunter Dies
American actor Jeffrey Hunter dies of a cerebral hemorrhage after falling down a flight of stairs and sustaining a skull fracture, a mishap precipitated by his suffering a stroke seconds earlier. Hunter played many roles, including Jesus in the 1961 film King of Kings, but is perhaps best known for portraying Captain Christopher Pike in the original Star Trek pilot episode "The Cage".
1938—Alicante Is Bombed
During the Spanish Civil War, a squadron of Italian bombers sent by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini to support the insurgent Spanish Nationalists, bombs the town of Alicante, killing more than three-hundred people. Although less remembered internationally than the infamous Nazi bombing of Guernica the previous year, the death toll in Alicante is similar, if not higher.
1977—Star Wars Opens
George Lucas's sci-fi epic Star Wars premiers in the Unites States to rave reviews and packed movie houses. Produced on a budget of $11 million, the film goes on to earn $460 million in the U.S. and $337 million overseas, while spawning a franchise that would eventually earn billions and make Lucas a Hollywood icon.
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