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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Interview Susan Scott (Nieves Navarro) - La Abadia de Berzano

Marisa Mell made in 1966 a Euro-spy movie called "Che Notte, Ragazzi" also known as "Qué noche, muchachos!" in Spain, "È stato lungo, difficile pero adesso... che notte ragazzi!" or "La dodicesima notte" in Italy. In this movie she played the role of Monica together with another great European cult star: "Nieves Navarro" or better known as "Susan Scott".

Nieves Navarro has more than 40 films to her credit, some of them are real cult classics like "Tutti i colori del buio" (1972), "Black Emanuelle, White Emanuelle" (1976) or "Emanuelle e gli ultimi cannibali" (1977) together with Laura Gemser.

José Luis Salvador Estébenez from the always interesting Eurocult site "La Abadia de Berzano" was able to track down Nieves Navarro for an exclusive interview regarding her career. It is a must read for every fan of Eurocult actresses!
You can find the interview here:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ciné Revue - Marisa Mell Covers (1966-1977)

Here are some photos of Marisa Mell during her career on the cover of the Belgian film (and later television) magazine "Ciné Revue". The magezine is in French and still being published to this day but due to a lack of real movie stars like in the 60 's and 70's the magazine is now focusing mostly on gossip and tabloid issues from celebrity, television stars and society people. The covers underwent also great changes. In the mid 70's their focus became more and more on topless actresses as one can see from these pictures. In the beginning Marisa Mell was decently dressed in hot pants, towel or shirt, later she was in different kind of nude poses. Please take note that the photos are not always published in the same year that they have been shot. For example the photo on the June 24th 1974 cover depicts Marisa Mell from the movie "Una Sull'Altra" although the photo was shot in 1969.
November 3rd, 1966 Issue

August 8th, 1968 Issue
April 9th, 1970 Issue June 24th, 1974 Issue April 14th, 1977 Issue
July 7th, 1977 Issue

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Diabolik Angel" - John Phillip Law Autobiography

On May 13, 2008 cult actor John Phillip Law died after being ill for some time! He was the actor, as most of you know, who gave Diabolik a face on the silver screen in the movie "Danger: Diabolik!" with Marisa Mell as his partner Eva Kant. The last two years before his death he was working with Carlos Aguilar and Anita Haas on his autobiography. Unfortunately John Phillip Law did not got to see the finished result to which he contributed more than 600, often exclusive, pictures from his private photo library ranging his entire career. The book is in English and Spanish and counts around 240 pages. If you love Euro-cult movies and his stars than this is definitely a book to have in your library! (ISBN: 978-84-612-4501-7)
You can order the book here:
UPDATE: On the CinemaRetro site there is a great review of this book!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Marta or ...dopo di che, uccide il maschio e lo divora (1971) - Avco Embassy Television Pressbook

In 1971 Marisa Mell was at the height of her career! That year she played in two Spanish movies, filmed back to back, which was rather exceptional for that time, with Stephen Boyd as her co-star. One was "Historia de una traición" or internationally known as "the Great Swindle" the other was "...dopo di che, uccide il maschio e lo divora" and internationally known as "Marta". The story of a sister's tortured attempt to discover what happened to her twin. During this expierence, she is suspected of murder herself; falls in love with her sister's husband, only to discover he is impotent and insane. The final discovery of her murdered twin, in the house, climaxes a horror tale of twisted minds and souls. This period in the life of Marisa Mell was special because she fell madly in love with actor Stephen Boyd during the production of the first movie "the Great Swindle". Due to a sometimes special atmosphere on set with often intimate scenes, actors often fall in love during a production. Unfortunately they mostly end it when a production is wrapped and everyone drifts to other productions and projects. So Marisa Mell was no exception to this rule of dating on a film set. She had often a affaire with a co-star. Her affair during the production of "Danger: Diabolik!" with John Phillip Law is one of the best known examples. This time the romance was not just a fling. Later she would devote a whole chapter in her autobiography "Coverlove" to her time together with Stephen Boyd. In this chapter she tells us that by the end of the second production "Marta" Stephen Boyd asked her to marry him. Apperently she accepted. It was not a traditional marriage in a church but a gypsy wedding. Marisa Mell describes how they cut their wrists, shared their blood and how romantic the little time was that she spent with him. Although the affair was doomed from the beginning she tells the readers that she never quite got over the affair and makes special note of his death in 1977. In 1972 the affair came to an end and she never saw him again. A special trivia is the fact that one time after the death of Stephen Boyd, Marisa Mell believed that he still spoke to her from beyond and that theirs was a very special kind of love, no matter how short-lived. Here are some photos from the 1974 pressbook released by Avco Embassy Television issued to all the networks and television stations in America who were showing this film on TV.

Next to pictures from the movie, a pressbook had often ads, texts and templates to promote a film in local newspapers and/or magazines with the name of the cinema at the bottom of the ad. Here are two examples for this movie together with the templates for the printers to use.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Stunning photo of Marisa Mell (4)

There are not that many photos of Marisa Mell with behind the scenes motives when preparing for a new scene in a movie, except maybe for the film "Danger: Diabolik!" for which there are quite a few behind the scenes photos available even with it's director Mario Bava who hated being photographed. This photo shows Marisa Mell preparing for a scene from the comedy movie "Bella, ricca, lieve difetto fisico cerca anima gemella" from 1973 where she plays a transvestite trying to seduce a con man who lures desperate housewives into marrying him so he can later robe them. Playing a transvestite, her hair is being prepared by a female hairdresser to look rather flat to the head so the attention is being drawn to her masculine looking face indicating that she was born a man. Nevertheless this photo shows once again Marisa Mell at the height of her beauty in the 70's.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Marisa Mell in "Dynasty" ???

At the beginning of the 80's actresses which started their careers in the precedent decennia had it very difficult to keep up the momentum. A lot of them had to be satisfied with cameo's in movies, badly payed television roles or do softcore/hardcore to earn a living. Some of them disappeared completely from the movie canvas. Not every star or starlet from that time had the chance to marry a wealthy producer like Sophia Loren (with a man who could haven been her father due to the age difference) or Luciana Paluzzi (who had to make a decision between her career or becoming a mother). Marisa Mell was not so lucky but at least she was in good company with fellow actresses like Michèle Mercier, Virna Lisi, Ursula Andress, Elke Sommer, Karen Schubert, Claudine Auger... and Joan Collins. Joan Collins had already a very good career in the years precident to the 80's when at the end of the 70's it went nowhere. She had to accept parts in dubious films like "The Stud" and "The Bitch" based on novels by her sister Jackie Collins. She was desperate for work and money. Joan Collins had worked in the UK and the States and was still some kind of household name. Maybe not anymore for the general audience but for television producers she still was. In hindsight playing in the two before mentioned movies was her golden ticket for a reboost of her career. Aaron Spelling, procuder of television series which made history like Starsky and Hutch, Charlie's Angels and the Love Boot..., was always on the look out for faded stars to play in his productions because it was relatively cheap to hire them but formost it upgraded his often cheap scripts. At the beginning of the '80's the American network ABC was looking to rival her competing network CBS for prime time viewers who were, since three years, addicted to the soap "Dallas". ABC turned to Aaron Spelling to do the job. He and his team created "Dynasty" but during the soaps first year, which would become an über soap with everthing bigger, better and bolder, was in big trouble. Viewers were not tuning in to watch it and Dallas was the number 1 show on the Nielsen ratings. Help was needed and very quickly if the soap was to survive into a second season. A search started to find a solution to help the already sinking soap. Then lighting hit the producers. Why not create a new J.R and make him not male but female so she could rival the main characters on the show in the person of Blake Carrington, patriarch of the family and his second wife Krystle. The hunt was on to find the ideal actress to play the character Alexis Morell Carrington. Dozens of Hollywood actresses, old and new, were tested to play the part, even European ones like Claudia Cardinale or Gina Lollobrigida came on the short list, but always something was lacking untill one of the staff members at Spelling remembered a middle aged actress which played some kind of a pre-Alexis in two cheap sexploitation movies in the UK called "The Stud" and "The Bitch". The rest is history. Joan Collins, desperate for money, was flown over to the States, tested the part and got it. A great deal in her favour probably was the fact that she spoke English with a very up class Britsh accent which sounded very snobby and exotic for American viewers and gave a hint of being very wealty. She was quicky written into the show so she could be part of the cliffhanger in the last episode of season 1 as a mystery witness in a Blake Carrington related trial. At the beginning of the second season it was revealed that the mystery witness was Blake's first wife, Alexis Morell Carrington, played by Joan Collins.
So what has this to do with Marisa Mell? Well, it could be possible that, although I have never read or heard anything about, but that is normal in casting searches to keep the procedures hidden, that Marisa Mell was, one time or another, a candidate to play the character of Alexis in Dynasty. It could have been. She was known in the States due to her international productions like Mahogany with Diana Ross. She was still very beautiful and was looking the part as you can see on the above picture. She had international film and television experience. She was educated at a famous theatre school "Max Reinhardt Seminar" in Vienna. If she got the part, instead of Joan Collins, her life would have been very different. She would have gotten fame and money like she never had in her life. It would have made her life a little easier at the end of it when her terrible disease struck. The down side would be that she had to move to Los Angeles. That could have been a problem because a decade earlier Marisa Mell refused to go to America to start a film career because of the harsh ever demanding contracts in those days. Marisa Mell prefered to stay in Europe with more flexible working conditions and the good life. This is something that she probably felt sorry about later. Due to the success of Dynasty more über soaps became the hit and the search for older stars grew. The best examples are still Gina Lollobrigida, costing the production company a lot of dollars, in "Falcon Crest", former lover and also broke actor Helmut Berger in "Dynasty" or even Rock Hudson, at the end of his life, also in "Dynasty".

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Una sull'altra - Nackt über Leichen - German Lobby Cards

People who love European cult movies from the 60's and 70's, like I do, are always on the look out for the most complete version of their beloved movies!It is in the blood and can be an obsession! It has to be the total uncut version of the film with all the scenes complete down to the last second. That being said it often happens that it is not always possible to get the complete version of a movie, whatever you might wish. Bummer! A lot of it has to do with the way the movie was presented to the audience in the first place. Una sull'altra in Italy or Nackt über Leichen in Germany or Perversion Story in the USA had three production companies situated in Italy, Spain and France. So each producer tailored this movie in accordance to the legal rules of their country or to the wishes of their film board. The end result is that you get different versions of the same movie in different territories and later on different versions on different dvd labels, all pretending to have the definitive ultimate version of the movie. For example the American version was longer, but censored in several places, while some European versions had much expository footage removed while retaining sexual material cut from the U.S. release. A fully uncut version of "Una sull'altra" runs in the neighborhood of 103 minutes. Another good example is the above poster. The left hand poster is the original poster that came out during the original distribution of the movie. It is a gorgeous poster, drawn by a master painter who can draw beautiful life like faces! An art and job that is lost these days! The right hand poster is a present day manipulation of the same poster to make a cover for the DVD-R release of the movie. Problem is that they are calling their movie the uncut version ("Ungeschnittene Fassung") but untill you see the movie you are not sure what you bought! It is still a risk! And please, do not trust the running time on the back of the cover!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Orbituary - Der Spiegel - Germany (22/1992)

"MARISA MELL, 53. Her real name was Marlies Moitzi and she lived like any other women: she cooked, knitted, played piano and painted pictures. Before this beauty with cat’s eyes became part of the international jet set as a “Femme Fatale”, she went to school in a nunnery, a school of commerce in Graz and the Max-Reinhardt-Seminar in Vienna. With English, Italian and French movies, she started a rocket career in the sixties: “What’s New, Pussycat!” with Peter O’Toole and Woody Allen on her side or “Casanova ‘70” with Marcello Mastroianni. Her wages were during a while higher than these of Claudia Cardinale. On Broadway meanwhile, she failed with the musical “Mata Hari”. With her love affaires and memories from the good life she kept up the appearence of being wanted by the rich and powerful. Her serious attemps to work again in theatre (1990 in Franz Innerhofers “Orvieto” and in Oktober 1991 in the play “Love Letters”) had to be aborted due to her illness. Marisa Mell died saterday before last in Vienna due to thyroids cancer." (Free translation)

NOTE: Yeah, Marisa Mell was a real housewife in the '60's? Forget it! Marisa Mell never played in the movie "What's New, Pussycat" nor did she acted with Peter O'Toole or Woody Allen. It is not clear where the journalist got his information from but obviously he is mixing up some facts and has some other actress in mind while writing this orbituary which is kind of strange because "Der Spiegel" is always known as a very trustworthy magazine!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Stunning photo of Marisa Mell (3)

This is another great photo of Marisa Mell from the mid 70's by the great Italian photographer Angelo Frontoni. This photo went around the world and graced a lot of magazine covers. It became one of the famous photos of Marisa Mell and it is not difficult to imagine why!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Early rare photo on German magazine cover "Deutscher Hausfreund Illustrierte" (1960)

Today's entry is a German magazine called "Deutscher Hausfreund Illustrierte" with a very young looking 21 year old Marisa Mell on the cover. Before seeing this rare photo cover I had never heard of this magazine and a search on the internet does not give any more answers. The only thing I could find is the fusion with another magazine for women called "Für Sie" in 1964. The title got dropped in favour of the "Für Sie" title in its logo. The magazine "Für Sie" still exists to this day in Germany and has a healty print run in a crowed magazine market.

This cover is from 1960 and Marisa Mell, fresh from theater school, is starting her career in German talking movies. After the film "Das Nachtlokal zum Silbermond" she got a part in the movie "Der Brave Soldat Schwejk" with Heinz Rühmann as the main character soldier Schwejk where this photo is taken from. Marisa Mell is called "Olly" in the movie. She plays a mistress to a lieutenant in the Austrian-Hungarian army during World War I. She had only a couple of little scenes what today is being called "cameos". In the end titles she isn't even credited. Although she is wearing a student cap in this photo, it does not appear in the movie as such on her character. There are some scenes with students in the film so she probably took the cap just for the photo shoot because it looked funny. What makes this photo so special is that it is from a period when Marisa Mell had no international experience and was in fact a struggling starlet in Vienna (Austria). There aren't that many photos of her from that period. Once she was established as an international movie star things changed and you could find her on a lot of magazine covers. The film was being shot in Vienna and this was probably the reason why she got the part as a fresh new face next to the lieutenant. Nevertheless it was for her a big step forward in her career because she had not a simple walk on walk off role, no, her scenes were with two of the most popular actors at time in German speaking countries: Heinz Rühmann and Ernst Stankvoski, who is, by the way, still working at age 80. Personally I think that she was very happy with this role because it signaled to her that her career was slowly starting to take off!