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.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Some more French and Italian rarities

courtesy of YouTube:

THE EMPTY CANVAS: I wondered why this 1964 Italian drama never played in London, despite Bette Davis and Horst Buchholz, still popular then, in lead roles. Bette was big that year what with DEAD RINGER and HUSH HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE capitalising on her BABY JANE success, and let's not forget trash classic WHERE LOVE HAS GONE! Buchholz (1933-2003) had an interesting period in Hollywood with films as diverse as Sturges' THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, Billy Wilder's ONE TWO THREE (one of Billy's best for me) and Logan's FANNY, as well as being a major European star.
He has nothing much to play with here as a bored Italian artist with a creative block, reliant on his rich, domineering American mother (Davis), but finds escape in the arms of Catherine Spaak, a beautiful young model, who believes in indiscriminate love affairs. Spaak is as lovely as she was in I DOLCE IGNANNI (Italian label)  four years earlier in 1960. There is a car crash, Spaak gets covered in money, but it all seems to be going nowhere ...

Bette shines in quite a good role, but it is all rather turgid. Isa Miranda and Daniella Rocca are also in the cast. It is an Albert Moravia story, his books were being filmed quite a bit then after the success of his TWO WOMEN. The same year 1964 saw Maselli's TIME OF INDIFFERENCE, a much more intriguing tale, featuring Claudia Cardinale and Tomas Milian as the brother and sister, in a great 1920s setting, with Paulette Goddard as their mother, losing her estate to Rod Steiger who wants Claudia, while Shelley Winters has designs on Tomas, as the indolent siblings shrug. see Claudia label ...  Its worth watching THE EMPTY CANVAS, complete with English sub-titles, while it is available on YouTube ...

THE JOY OF LIVING: We love Rene Clement's PLEIN SOLEIL (PURPLE NOON) here at the Projector - one of the first European films we saw when young which opened our eyes to the glamour of Europe in 1960, and beautiful people like Delon and Laforet, and of course from a favourite Patricia Highsmith book.  I had though never heard of THE JOY OF LIVING (Che Gioia Vivere) till advised - thanks Daryl - that it is available on YouTube, so I spent a pleasant afternoon watching it. (YouTube also had that other Delon rarity, the 1968 FAREWELL FRIEND with Charles Bronson).This one, about fascists and bomb-makers and anarchists, is certainly a rarity, there are comic moments but Clement was better suited to thrillers like his others with Delon: PLEIN SOLEIL and LES FELINS (Delon label).

BOULEVARD: Fifteen year old Jojo has run away from home to escape his controlling stepmother who hates him. He manages to make ends meet with some odd jobs, and living a room under the roof of a block of flats in Pigalle. Selling magazines works for a while but posing as Narcissus for two gay artists proves a disaster. When things go really awry, Jojo tries to commit suicide by jumping off the roof of his house.
Jean-Pierre Leaud was an instant sensation as Antoine Doinel in Truffaut's THE 400 BLOWS in 1959 - this, Leaud's second role, sees him as another early teen, precocious and rather bratty, leaving home and taking an attic room. His rooftop hideout allows him to see everything, including the older woman he desires, Magali Noel. There is of course also a nice young girl .....
our hero gets into some scrapes, and poses for two gay artists who befriend him. We get lots more of that 'Paris by night'/early '60s vibe. It is all nicely directed by veteran Julian Duvivier - I have not seen too many Duvivier films but liked those I did like Robert Hossein and Jean Sorel in CHAIR DE POULE in '63 and Gabin in top form in the brilliant VOICI LE TEMPS DES ASSASSINS in '55 (French label). 
YouTube only has the opening minutes of BOULEVARD but it gives a nice flavour of the film. I saw this when 18 and new in London in 1964, though it has not turned up anywhere since. Leaud was soon back as Antoine Doinel continuing his adventures for Truffaut .,..

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