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.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

People We Like: Capucine

Capucine [1928-1990] was one of the stars of the early '60s whose career didn't last that long but it was fascinating seeing her in those comedies and dramas where her fashion sense (she had been a model) made her one of those people like Kay Kendall or her friend Audrey Hepburn who wear clothes marvellously. Capucine's patrician looks and flair for haughty comedy was ideal for those two with Peter Sellers: THE PINK PANTHER in '63 and the delirious WHAT'S NEW PUSSYCAT in 1965.

She was a protege of agent Charles Feldman and got her big break in SONG WITHOUT END with Dirk Bogarde in 1960. She and Bogarde were good friends [they were rumoued to be engaged, which was good publicity for both of them], and he writes about her in two of his books "Snakes and Ladders" and "Cleared For Takeoff". She holds her own well opposite John Wayne and Stewart Granger in the fun western NORTH TO ALASKA and her scenes with Fabian are amusing. WALK ON THE WILD SIDE in '62 is one of the great bad movies - Laurence Harvey did not get on with her here, but Stanwyck is great as the brothel owner wanting Capucine for herself, with young Jane Fonda and Anne Baxter also involved in this Edward Dmytryk farrago, great credits and Elmer Bernstein score.

Capucine was also involved with William Holden and they did two movies together: the interesting THE LION by Jack Cardiff in 1962 set in Africa where she is the wife of hunter Trevor Howard who asks former husband Holden to visit as their daughter is growing up wild and getting too attached to the lion of the title. Cardiff's memoir "Magic Hour" goes into the problems they had keeping Pamela Franklin safe when around the lion. Capucine was very effective as the Eurasian facing the death penalty in THE SEVENTH DAWN in '64 where Holden gets involved with the ridiculously young Susannah York. She was also featured as one of Rex Harrison's three lovers lured to his deathbed in Mankiewicz's under-regarded THE HONEYPOT in 1966, other roles were in FRAULEIN DOKTOR, she was amusing with Alberto Sordi in an episode of LE FATE, and in FELLINI SATYRICON, and had a small part in the Bronson-Delon-Mifune actioner RED SUN in 1971. She was then mostly in European movies which did not surface elsewhere - one I saw recently and liked was NEST OF VIPERS in '77, an overheated melodrama with a surprisingly good Senta Berger and Ornella Muti.

She had retreated to an apartment in Lausanne and did television, including a MURDER SHE WROTE in '85. She suffered from manic-depression and it seems she jumped from her 7th floor window, after feeding her pets. A sad end to a fascinating presence, but it will always be a pleasure to see her fending off Peter Sellers in re-runs of THE PINK PANTHER or WHATS NEW PUSSYCAT.

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