Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Others seen recently:

MATA HARI H.21. A rarity indeed this French 1964 title by Jean Louis Richard (but scripted by Truffaut) features Jeanne Moreau giving a towering performance as Mata Hari. Its a world away from the more glamorous MGM Garbo version. The period is well caught and Moreau, whether in Indonesian costume doing her exotic dance, while signalling with her fingers her message in code to another agent, or getting involved with Jean Louis Trintignant, is suitable intense and mesmerising. A French language version only, but one did not need sub-titles! The ending is suitably downbeat and then curiously uplifting. It should be as well known as Moreau's more famous roles such as in BAY OF ANGELS, JULES ET JIM, THE BRIDE WORE BLACK etc.

ABDULLA THE GREAT - a totally rare title, made in Egypt in 1954, its the missing film from Kay Kendall's filmography. Kay was coming into her prime here, after GENEVIEVE and DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE, before she blossomed into the star of LES GIRLS and THE RELUCTANT DEBUTANTE, before her untimely death in 1959. Here she is the model whom the despotic, middle eastern monarch (Gregory Ratoff - who was Max Fabian in ALL ABOUT EVE) becomes obsessed about setting a chain of events in motion which lead to his downfall. He is a rather Farouk type figure, Kay is bliss as usual, he was also in her last film ONCE MORE WITH FEELING. Good to finally catch up with this oddity.
10 LITTLE INDIANS. Not seen since since its release in 1965, this is a humourous take on the standard Agatha Christie story which has been filmed several times. This has the very 60s people Shirley Eaton (after her Goldengirl in GOLDFINGER), Daliah Lavi (wearing some exotic hair creations, below), Hugh O'Brien and singer Fabian, as well as stalwarts Wilfrid Hyde White, Leo Genn, Dennis Price and Stanley Holloway, all trapped on an alpine mountaintop mansion as they (and 2 servants) are picked off one by one.... the dvd includes the cinema release pause to recap as the audience tries to guess who did it. Still fun and fiendishly clever.

Of the many starlets and Euro-babes of the swinging '60s (think Senta Berger, Marisa Mell and Luciana Paluzzi (who has a very cult following and began in the '50s actually) Daliah Lavi should easily have been the most outstanding with those looks and that hair. Like BEN HUR's Haya Harareet she was an Israeli who turned to the movies once she had left the Israeli army.

I first noticed her in Minnelli's TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN in '62 as the young girl giving jaded star Kirk Douglas back his resolve. I liked her a lot in LORD JIM in '65 where she is ideal with Peter O'Toole as the native girl who loves him, she has such dignity and grace here. TEN LITTLE INDIANS (above) is a whole lot of fun. Then there was a Dean Martin Matt Helm spoof THE SILENCERS, and the all-star spoof CASINO ROYALE where she is fun with a very young Woody Allen, and looking more exotic than ever, and I remember a dismal western with Yul Brynner CATLOW. She later turned to singing with some success in Europe. She will always have a place though in '60s movie iconography.

Ditto with Fabian [left, with Daliah Lavi]- that late '50s singer who was discovered as a teenager. He could hardly sing but with those looks it didn't matter as he was soon part of that Italo-American sound from Philadelphia, on "American Bandstand" along with Frankie Avalon, Tommy Sands, Bobby Vee etc. 20th Century Fox snapped him up and he is quite appealing in 59's HOUND DOG MAN - perhaps one had to be about 12 to enjoy it, as I was then. He is part of the fun in the very enjoyable NORTH TO ALASKA gushing over Capucine as John Wayne keeps roughing him up; then he was second banana to the likes of Bing Crosby (the enjoyable HIGH TIME) and James Stewart (those homely comedies like MR HOBBS TAKES A VACATION and DEAR BRIGETTE), as well as teen fare like LOVE IN A GOLDFISH BOWL, RIDE THE WILD SURF and FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON, and in the all-star THE LONGEST DAY. In England for 10 LITTLE INDIANS in '65 he was the first to be bumped off, and then he took to racing car movies like DEATH RACE 500. He posed (tastefully) for PLAYGIRL in the '70s and retains a fanbase and still works and tours in nostalgia shows. Fabian was and remains a nice guy.

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