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.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Romy Schneider trio

SISSI - 1954. I liked this when I saw it as a kid. There are 3 SISSI films, all made in Germany in the '50s, all are saccharine, sentimental confections, very chocolate box cover with pretty dresses, rural scenes, and court intrigue about the early life of Empress Elizabeth of Austria, and seeing them now they are just as enjoyable as ever – the interfering mother-in-law is a particular delight. All 3 are edited into one compilation FOREVER MY LOVE which is fine for seeing the best of them. Romy returned to the role for Visconti in his monumental LUDWIG in 1972 where Helmut Berger is just right as Ludwig, and Trevor Howard and Silvana Mangano are also right as the Wagners. Romy brings a lot of brittle humour and insight to the role this time around.

A considerable hit in 1975 though was Claude Chabrol’s thriller INNOCENTS WITH DIRTY HANDS, a valentine to Romy really as its all about her coping with her devious husband Rod Steiger, and her lover as we find out who is plotting to kill who, as bumbling policemen (very Chabrol) try to unravel the plot’s many twists. Romy looks terrific here in a variety of looks and hair-dos, from the moment a kite descends from the sky at the start to land on her naked derierre as she sunbathes on the lawn. A lovely mid-70s treat now.

1980 brought Bertrand Tavernier’s LA MORT EN DIRECT or DEATHWATCH a considerable success where Romy has one of her best roles as the dying woman whose last days are being recorded by Harvey Kietel with a camera planted in his brain for a reality series in this sci-fi set in unusual downbeat locations (Glasgow and Scotland). Its all rather prescient actually now following the death of English reality star Jade Goody who lived out her last days on camera. Back in 1980 however Romy is well supported by the likes of Max Von Sydow and Harry Dean Stanton. It deserves to be much better known. She really gives an astounding performance here, 2 years before her untimely death following personal tragedies.

Like Jean Seberg, its a career that ended too soon. Romy remains one of the most international of stars, having periods of stardom in German, American, French and English films.
The recent release of the uncompleted Clouzot 1964 film INFERNO has led to revival of interest in Romy with retrospectives on her in London, Berlin and other cities. There are several biographies in French or German - we need one in English!

Paris Match cover of their issue covering her death, 1982 / Zulawski's THE MOST IMPORTANT THING LOVE is a very intense 1975 French title, co starring Fabio Testi, Klaus Kinski.
My full appreciation on Romy is on imdb at:

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