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, 25 September 2010

Girls just wanna have fun

BLONDE IN BLACK LEATHER(1975). A mysterious leather-clad figure on a motorcycle rides into a deserted rural village in Italy, to the tune of Riz Ortolani's harmonic-driven score. Its Monica Vitti playing a motor-mouthed liar constantly spinning tales and supposedly travelling to meet her gangster boyfriend. She brushes open the swing doors of a laundry service - cue spaghetti western music for comic effect - to find long-suffering Claudia (Cardinale) covered in sweat from the humid atmosphere with her white overall near transparent in the heat. Monica impresses Claudia with her talk about being a free spirit and before long Claudia too escapes from her dull environment and that boyfriend who gropes her wet body while still reading his porn mag, as the girls speed off on the motorbike.

What follows is a mix of road adventure and send-up/hommage to those popular at the time Terence Hill/Bud Spencer action comedies (how very '70s), with amusing situations for the girls. It all climaxes in pure slapstick (which actually has one reaching for the fast-forward button) in a casino as the girls win big at roulette and beat up the local mafia. It gets rather annoyingly simple-minded at this stage with fantasy sequences (featuring Ninetto Davioli from the Pasolini films), and makes one realise that there is usually a good reason when films made for the local market don't travel abroad. Also, with Vitti and Cardinale [as with most great stars] their distinctive husky voices are part of their allure - here they are dubbed into English with totally wrong different voices!

Carlo Di Palma was a talented cinematographer for Antonioni having photographed RED DESERT and BLOW-UP and for others like Woody Allen (HANNAH AND HER SISTERS etc) but as director here he is completely pedestrian and working from a lazy script. Or maybe I am just not into slapstick... But our heroines are having fun and are still iconic here a decade after ground-breaking '60s roles for mentors like Visconti, Fellini and Antonioni. Maybe after all those dramas they needed to work on their comedy side and both gals are still the business. There is a delicious moment for devotees of black leather where Monica gets her leather outfit cleaned and buffed, while she is still wearing it, to her evident satisfaction; and Claudia sizzles in that damp uniform... Produced by Franco Cristaldi.

Their joint billing is rather nicely solved:

and what is it with photographer/directors and blondes in leather? Jack Cardiff also had a go with Marianne Faithfull and Alain Delon in his more dramatic '68 GIRL ON A MOTORCYCLE ...

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