Monthly Archives: April 2012

Not Tonight, Josephine


Enzo G. Castellari’s The Loves and Times of Scaramouche (1976 – originally Le aventure e gli amori di Scaramouche) has been released on DVD in the UK by Cornerstone Media. It’s an Italian/Yugoslavian co-production set at the time of the French Revolution, with Michael Sarrazin as the eponymous philandering hero. The animated title sequence promises Carry On-style bawdy farce, but the movie is tamer, a slapstick period comedy. Scaramouche escapes Paris and via unlikely circumstance, he and his comrade, a barber named Whistle (Giancarlo Prete), end up in the French army fighting the Austrians and Russians.

The Loves and Times of Scaramouche was shot in Italy (the familiar tiered Monte Gelato waterfalls in Lazio appear) and in Yugoslavia, and boasts a good battle sequence and first rate costumes and settings. Aldo Maccione played Napoleon Bonaparte as a buffoon and the film’s mocking tone constantly ridicules the French (who significantly had no financial input into this Euro co-production). The cast is filled with familiar faces from Italian genre cinema. Lee Van Cleef’s stunt double Romano Puppo played Napoleons’ sultan-like bodyguard, Sal Borgese appeared as an inept assassin, Riccardo Garrone was a French captain, and Michael Forest played secret service agent D’Anglade. Also keep your eyes peeled for Peter Berling (from Aguirre, The Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo), Massimo Vanni, Dante Cleri, Enzo Fiermonte and stunt coordinator Rocco Lerro. Gisela Hahn played Babette, one of Scaramouche’s conquests, and ‘Alan Collins’/Luciano Pigozzi was her understandably irate husband.

The film’s trump card is the presence of Ursula Andress, as Napoleon’s Josephine. Andress shot to fame as ‘Bond Girls’ Honey Ryder in Dr No (1962) and Vesper Lynd in Casino Royal (1967). The ‘sex goddess’ wasn’t nicknamed ‘Ursula Undress’ for nothing. She was often employed throughout the 1960s and 1970s in such adventures as Scaramouche, to add a little spice and to disrobe, as what might be termed ‘set undressing’. She did this regularly in films, including The Blue Max, The Southern Star, Perfect Friday, Red Sun, The Sensuous Nurse, The Fifth Musketeer, Mountain of the Cannibal God, Stateline Motel and Mexico in Flames, to name a few. In 1965 she posed nude for Playboy magazine. When asked why, she simply answered, ‘Because I’m beautiful’.

Castellari completists will want to see Scaramouche, as it’s one of the cult director’s films not to have seen the light of day on DVD. Andress and James Bond completists will want to see it for the brief moment towards the end when Andress parodies her star-making walk from the surf in Dr No. The many fistfights, swordfights, duels and trampolining acrobatics imitate the physical style of Terence Hill and Bud Spencer’s comedies of the period. The Euro-pop sing-along theme song and bubblegum score by Bixio-Frizzi-Tempera are guaranteed to grate on your nerves after a while. While Castellari is an excellent action director – check out Kill them All and Come Back Alone, Eagles Over London, The Marseilles Connection, The Inglorious Basterds, 1990: The Bronx Warriors and Keoma for evidence of his finest work – he’s no farceur. The non-stop zaniness on display here eventually becomes tiresome and the running gags barely stumble. Euro-completists will view it from a historical perspective, as it’s yet another little-seen 1970s comedy, and it’s good that it has finally had an official UK release. The Region 2 DVD is fullscreen (the picture’s a bit soft and may be from a videotape source), with the English language dub, and is available from Amazon UK.

For more information on Castellari’s work, read Cinema Italiano: The Complete Guide from Classics to Cult, which has recently received two more reviews, in Electric Sheep magazine (read here) and the Canadian Chronicle Herald (read here)

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Kindle Supplies

Howard Hughes - KindleAs of Easter weekend, 5 of my film guides from I.B. Tauris have been made available for the first time as Kindle downloads. The titles are:

Once Upon a Time in the Italian West: The Filmgoers’ Guide to Spaghetti Westerns  This features extensive coverage of the great Italian westerns A Fistful of Dollars, A Pistol for Ringo, The Return of Ringo, For a Few Dollars More, Django, The Hills Run Red, Navajo Joe, A Bullet for the General, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Django Kill!, The Hellbenders, The Big Gundown, Death Rides a Horse, Face to Face, Day of Anger, The Big Silence, A Professional Gun, Sabata, They Call me Trinity and My Name is Nobody.


Crime Wave: The Filmgoers’ Guide to the Great Crime Movies

This includes chapters on the background and making of the classic crime films The Public Enemy, High Sierra, The Maltese Falcon, White Heat, The Asphalt Jungle, Kiss Me Deadly, The Big Combo, Point Blank, Bonne and Clyde, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Get Carter, Shaft, Dirty Harry, The Godfather, Chinatown, The Godfather Part II, Once Upon a Time in America, Lethal Weapon, GoodFellas, Pulp Fiction, L.A. Confidential and Ocean’s Eleven.


Stagecoach to Tombstone: The Filmgoers’ Guide to the Great Westerns  

The great American west and the films set there is celebrated. Films featured include Stagecoach, My Darling Clementine, Red River, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, High Noon, Shane, Johnny Guitar, Vera Cruz, The Man from Laramie, The Searchers, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Forty Guns, Ride Lonesome, Rio Bravo, The Magnificent Seven, One-Eyed Jacks, Ride the High Country, The Sons of Katie Elder, Once Upon a Time in the West, Support Your Local Sheriff!, The Wild Bunch, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, McCabe & Mrs Miller, Ulzana’s Raid, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Unforgiven and Tombstone.

Aim for the Heart: The Films of Clint Eastwood

This covers Eastwood’s career in front of and behind the camera, from Revenge of the Creature to Gran Torino, with chapters focusing on The Westerns (including the Dollars trilogy, Hang ‘Em High, Two Mules for Sister Sara, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Unforgiven), The Cops (the Dirty Harry quintet, The Gauntlet, Tightrope, In the Line of Fire, A Perfect World), The Lovers (The Beguiled, Play Misty for Me, Breezy, The Bridges of Madison County), The Comedies (the Clyde the orang-utan movies, Bronco Billy), The Dramas (Honkytonk Man, Bird, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby), The Thrillers (Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Escape from Alcatraz, Absolute Power, True Crime, Blood Work), and The War Movies (Where Eagles Dare, Kelly’s Heroes, Firefox, Heartbreak Ridge, Flags of our Fathers, Letter from Iwo Jima).

Cinema Italiano: The Complete Guide from Classics to Cult

Uncover a treasure trove of Italian films from The Leopard to Puma Man. Chapters discuss mythological epics, gothic horrors, science-fiction, spy films, war movies, costume adventures, swashbucklers, political cinema, spaghetti westerns, comedies, gialli and ‘poliziotteschi’ crime films. Films include: La dolce vita, Hercules Conquers Atlantis, The Leopard, The Terror of Dr Hichcock, Contempt, The Gospel According to St Matthew, Castle of Blood, Fists in the Pocket, Django, Battle of Algiers, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Blowup, Diabolik, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, The Conformist, They Call Me Trinity, Violent City, The Marseilles Connection, Illustrious Corpses, Suspiria, The Big Silence, The Mask of Satan, Maciste in Hell, Blood and Black Lace, Hercules Against the Moon Men, The Last Man on Earth, The Wild, Wild Planet, Special Mission Lady Chaplin, Django Kill!, Fellini Satyricon, Deep Red, Sons of Thunder, Tentacles, The Inglorious Bastards, Zombie Flesh Eaters, Puma Man, 1990: Bronx Warriors, 8½, Once Upon a Time in the West, L’Avventura, Black Sabbath, Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion.