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, 6 August 2012

Summer re-runs: Romy & L'Enfer

A beautiful woman is smoking, her face covered in glittering body paint and illuminated by undulating lights. Who is she?  It is European favourite Romy Schneider in fragments of a film L'ENFER (INFERNO) made in 1964 but only recently made available in 2009 for viewing, and a fascinating experience it turns out to be. This was an ambitious project by revered French director Henri-Georges Clouzot (of LES DIABOLIQUES and THE WAGES OF FEAR) with Romy and Serge Regianni heading the cast in this study of obsessive jealousy set in a lakeside resort setting. We see scenes of the husband following his wife and imagining her being unfaithful with both a local hotelier and his attractive wife ...

The director had an unlimited budget at his disposal and was highly ambitious. Schendier was then one of Europe's leading young actresses after having shaking off her SISSI wholesome image and having worked with Welles and Visconti. Yet the project was doomed. After various complications Clouzot had to abandon the project only three weeks into filming when he suffered from a stroke. The stunning images they'd already created would be lost to the public for decades. 

After meeting her when they were delayed in a Paris elevator, Serge Bromberg convinced Clouzot's widow to disclose the original footage to enable him to reconstruct the film. Initially he'd only expected to find two or three hours of material, but there were fifteen....  Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea have now drawn on the hours of material Clouzot shot (including the amazing test footage) and have interviewed everyone connected with the film who's still alive, and they've produced a fascinating picture, with the aid of Berenice Bejo and Jacques Gamblin to fill out the leading parts using the script. It could have been a fascinating film as we see from the bits that remain, and it shows what an adventerous actress Schneider was as she acts out Clouzot's scenarios. 
Schneider & Clouzot

It was a busy time for Schneider, so prolific in the '60s and '70s until her untimely death aged 43 in 1982 (as per my previous posts on her here, see label). She had just done THE CARDINAL for Preminger and THE VICTORS for Carl Foreman and was going to to those comedies GOOD NEIGHBOUR SAM in America and WHATS NEW PUSSYCAT in Paris. L'ENFER would surely have been another stunning success if Clouzot had been able to finish it.

Soon: an early Romy MADCHEN IN UNIFORM from 1958 and her last in 1982: LA PASSANTE DE SANS SOUCI. There are 62 Romy titles in her filmography - I have over 30 of them, so several more to track down ...

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