Unlike a normal lottery nobody wants a ticket, and against all odds you're bound to get picked eventually.
We all know that in cinema no idea lies fallow for long. They're all reused until they've given everything of value, and plenty that isn't. Part of the fun of watching movies is seeing the lineage of ideas. La decima vittima, for which you see a nice Mario de Berardinis poster above, was known in English as The 10th Victim, and resides in the sub-genre of films about humans killing humans for sport and gain. Other movies in the group include 1932's The Most Dangerous Game, 1972's The Woman Hunt, 1975's Death Race 2000, 1987's The Running Man, 2013's The Purge, and others.
In La decima vittima's near future, violence between citizens has been made legal and placed under the auspices of the Ministero della Grande Caccio, aka the Ministry of the Big Hunt. Those who hunt are given the identities of their prey, along with their locations and personal habits. Anyone can be hunted, even those who previously were hunters. The hunted can kill their hunters in self defense, but if they make a mistake and kill the wrong person—easy to do when you're paranoid and an unknown person is stalking you—that's old fashioned murder and off to prison you go. The purpose of all this slaughter? As the film explains, “Why have birth control when you can have death control?”
Ursula Andress, whose looks kill anyway, plays an adept hunter given an opportunity by a big corporation to monetize her tenth (and by law her final) murder. Marcello Mastroianni plays a one percenter who's been computer selected as her prey, and whom Andress' corporate benefactors want to film her assassinating for a tea commercial. Andress has agreed to kill Mastroianni at the Temple of Venus in Rome. Getting him there won't be easy, but the classic honeytrap, with the sun-kissed Andress as the sticky goodness, is a sure bet to work. It'd work on us.
We said the movie is in the same lineage as The Most Dangerous Game, The Purge, et al. Nearly all those films are better than La decima vittima. There are several problems here, not least of which is emotional tone-deafness—the characters love and hate because the script requires it, but there's no spark, no believability. The movie is probably worth watching anyway because of its super sex symbol cast rounded out by Elsa Martinelli, plus its sleek, retrofuturistic ’60s fashions, but don't go in expecting a landmark sci-fi, a brutal social commentary, a cutting satire, or anything of the ilk. In the end, just like the real future, it's so-so. La decima vittima had its world premiere in Rome and Florence today in 1965.
Italian star takes a bite out of Paris.
Italian actress Elsa Martinelli is dressed like a vampire to attend a costume party being thrown by Gunter Sachs in Paris on Rue de Ponthieu today in 1972. The party was Count Dracula themed, which means Martinelli wasn't the only one dressed this way. Acquaintance Roman Polanski also rocks count couture. But Martinelli probably looked the best of all the guests, and we imagine many necks were offered to her before the festivities ended.
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 headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1914—RMS Empress Sinks
Canadian Pacific Steamships' 570 foot ocean liner Empress of Ireland is struck amidships by a Norwegian coal freighter and sinks in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with the loss of 1,024 lives. Submerged in 130 feet of water, the ship is so easily accessible to treasure hunters who removed valuables and bodies from the wreck that the Canadian government finally passes a law in 1998 restricting access.
1937—Chamberlain Becomes Prime Minister
Arthur Neville Chamberlain, who is known today mainly for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938 which conceded the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany and was supposed to appease Adolf Hitler's imperial ambitions, becomes prime minister of Great Britain. At the time Chamberlain is the second oldest man, at age sixty-eight, to ascend to the office. Three years later he would give way to Winston Churchill.
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".
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