The woman who set fire to France.
First degree Arsan is the highest level of Arsan, which is the act of starting a fire or explosion with the intent to destroy or damage something. So above you see Thailand born Emmanuelle Arsan, who did exactly that, setting fire to and destroying French censorship standards. She was known by several names, including Marayat Rollet-Andriane and Marayat Bibidh, but it was as Arsan that she found fame in France by writing the erotic novel Emmanuelle, which was immediately banned. While its publisher Eric Losfeld was jailed and fined, the book was clandestinely and anonymously sold from 1959 until its official publication in 1967.
Today the novel is thought to have been written by Arsan's husband Louis-Jacques Rollet-Andriane, and “Emmanuelle Arsan” is thought to be a pseudonym they shared, with he as writer and she as its public face. Arsan parlayed the literary recognition into modeling, acting, an uncredited directorial turn at the helm of the 1976 sexploitation flick Laure, and celebrity status as the personification of France's naughty libido. This wonderful image is from 1976, and she's 40 in it. You can see numerous more impressive shots of Arsan in the write-up we did on Laure a few years back.
To Bibi or not to Bibi? That's a rhetorical question.
Remember way back when we talked about the Marie Forså sexploitation flick Bibi? Probably not. It was years ago. In any case we found a collection of promo images from the film and we're not going to pass up an excuse to revisit it because, though the film is not great, Forså and women like her are historical treasures, artifacts of a type of cinema that has all but disappeared. Some say that's a good thing. We don't. To have sex is biologically hardwired into us, and it's constantly on our minds, therefore exploring its possibilities in media—whether visual, written, musical, or merely spoken—is about as normal a compulsion as we can imagine. Bibi is a helluva piece of media. It was made in Sweden but these promos are West German, and show Forså and co-stars Anke Syring, Birgit Zamulo, et al., in a colorful light. Bibi, aka Girl Meets Girl, aka Confessions of a Sex Kitten, premiered in West Germany today in 1974.
A history of Violenza.
Above, a colorful Japanese poster for Florestano Vancini’s Italian thriller Violenza al sole, aka Blow Hot Blow Cold, the story of a young couple vacationing on an island where they meet an older couple. The older male spies on the young couple during their various romantic interludes, but the reason why he’s doing it, and the movie’s ending, make it a minor classic. With Bibi Andersson, Gunnar Bjornstrand, Rosemarie Dexter, and Guiliano Gemma, very good stuff. Violenza al sole premiered in Italy in August 1969 and made it to Japan today in 1970.
You know, after all we’ve shared I feel strange just dumping him in a salad.
Vila på sex, starring Marie Forså, was one of those mid-seventies softcore films that was also released in a fully x-rated version. Add to that the international releases and you get a film with many retitlings, among them Baby Love, Girl Meets Girl, and Confessions of a Sex Kitten. But basically, outside its native Sweden it was mostly known as Bibi, which is the title it retained for its Japanese premiere, today in 1974.
Sixteen year-old Bibi is an innocent girl who leaves her home in the sticks for her aunt’s boarding school and immediately starts going at it hot and heavy with the resident lesbians—and one zucchini. Bibi decides she likes sex, whether animal or vegetable, and begins seducing her way around town. She sleeps with her aunt’s friend, the local stud, and a female swimming club, and in the process spends a large percentage of the second half of the movie naked. All good fun at first, but because there’s no such thing as consequence-free sex in cinema—even in the unfettered seventies—troubles soon result.
But under Joe Sarno’s sedate direction Bibi never gets too heavy—in the end some tears are shed, confessions made, and lessons learned. Perhaps only the zucchini was truly harmed. As a side note, we aren’t sure yet, but we think much of Bibi’s footage was recycled for another sexploitation film called Flossie, released the same year by the same director and utilizing the same cast. We’ll check on that. In the meantime, we have a little slide show below.
X goes highbrow with the help of the French.
It’s hard to believe a film as artful as Emmanuelle, with its soft focus cinematography and ethereal music, was rated X when it was released, but then you reach the halfway point and see a stripper smoking a cigarette without using her mouth and you understand why. Based on a character created by author Emmanuelle Arsan—aka Marayat Bibidh aka Marayat Rollet-Andriane—the first Emmanuelle movie was produced unsuccessfully in Italy in 1969. But five years later a ravishing Dutch actress named Sylvia Kristel, below, brought the role to life with a mixture of smoldering sexuality and angelic innocence. She and director Just Jaeckin helped make Emmanuelle into a French franchise, and a role actresses lobbied for the honor of playing. Despite seemingly nine-hundred sequels that resulted—including a Cinemax stint inhabited by bombshell American actress Krista Allen—the original remains the best. It is one of the highest grossing films in French cinema history. The poster was designed by Steve Frankfurt, and the U.S. version of the film opened today in 1974.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1937—Amelia Earhart Disappears
Amelia Earhart fails to arrive at Howland Island during her around the world flight, prompting a search for her and navigator Fred Noonan in the South Pacific Ocean. No wreckage and no bodies are ever found.
1964—Civil Rights Bill Becomes Law
U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Bill into law, which makes the exclusion of African-Americans from elections, schools, unions, restaurants, hotels, bars, cinemas and other public institutions and facilities illegal. A side effect of the Bill is the immediate reversal of American political allegiance, as most southern voters abandon the Democratic Party for the Republican Party.
1997—Jimmy Stewart Dies
Beloved actor Jimmy Stewart, who starred in such films as Rear Window and Vertigo, dies at age eighty-nine at his home in Beverly Hills, California of a blood clot in his lung.
1941—NBC Airs First Official TV Commercial
NBC broadcasts the first TV commercial to be sanctioned by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC began licensing commercial television stations in May 1941, granting the first license to NBC. During a Dodgers-Phillies game broadcast July 1, NBC ran its first commercial, from Bulova, who paid $9 to advertise its watches.
1963—Kim Philby Named as Spy
The British Government admits that former high-ranking intelligence diplomat Kim Philby had worked as a Soviet agent. Philby was a member of the spy ring now known as the Cambridge Five, along with Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt and John Cairncross. Of the five, Philby is believed to have been most successful in providing classified information to the Soviet Union. He defected to Russia, was feted as a hero and even given his commemorative stamp, before dying in 1988 at the age of seventy-six.
1997—Robert Mitchum Dies
American actor Robert Mitchum dies in his home in Santa Barbara, California. He had starred in films such as Out of the Past, Blood on the Moon
, and Night of the Hunter
, was called "the soul of film noir," and had a reputation for coolness
that would go unmatched until Frank Sinatra arrived on the scene.
1908—Tunguska Explosion Occurs
Near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in what is now Krasnoyarsk Krai in Russia, a large meteoroid or comet explodes at five to ten kilometers above the Earth's surface with a force of about twenty megatons of TNT. The explosion is a thousand times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic blast, knocks over an estimated 80 million trees and generates a shock wave estimated to have been 5.0 on the Richter scale.
1971—Soviet Cosmonauts Perish
Soviet cosmonauts Vladislav Volkov, Georgi Dobrovolski and Viktor Patsayev, who served as the first crew of the world's first space station Salyut 1, die when their spacecraft Soyuz 11 depressurizes during preparations for re-entry. They are the only humans to die in space (as opposed to the upper atmosphere).
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