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, 5 July 2013

Italy or Greece? the Quinn report ....

Still undecided on a Greek or Italian holiday? Let Anthony Quinn show us how in 2 trash items:

She was the most famous woman in the world. He was a peasant, a pirate, a shark. THE GREEK TYCOON is the story of their fiery romance. Anthony Quinn portrays Theo Tomasis - the world's richest and most flamboyant shipping magnate. He's a man who seemingly has everything he could want - who reaches out and captures his final prize: lovely, expensive, legendard Liz Cassidy, widow of a president of the United States. This lavishly mounted drama, which focuses on the international jet set's continual struggle for love and power, was filmed in Corfu, Athens, London, New York and Washington, D.C. against backdrops of breathtaking beauty and luxury. 

It is also a Trash Classic, maybe the last of the great bad films. Dating from 1978 this has it all in spades - Quinn and Bisset ideal as Onassis and Jackie O, with James Franciscus as the assasssinated president (at least they did not try to duplicate Dallas ...), Edward Albert is the son, Raf Vallone as his brother and rival ship magnate, Marilu Tolo the Callas figure, not given much to do here, and neither are Luciana Paluzzi and Camilla Sparv as the discarded Mrs Onassis. We spend our time mainly on yachts and helicopters (don't these rich people have actual homes they spend time in?), as wily Tomasis (Onassis in all but name) lures the President to his yacht by dangling a British ex-Prime Minister (Ronald Culver, maybe playing Macmillan) as bait, while he gets to know the fabulous Liz - Bisset playing Jacqueline to the manner born. The high life looks rather dull actually but it is all fabulously trashy entertainment, as helmed by the once-interesting J. Lee Thompson. 

Thanks, Poseidon!
The best moment is the end - the rich magnate, alone on some Greek island (it looks like Mykonos) drinks, feeds a dog and dances as the sun goes down, and he relates to the ordinary Greeks around him.  He has everything but has nothing really ... as a Trash classic it is almost as bad as Lana's LOVE HAS MANY FACES or PORTRAIT IN BLACK or Susan and Bette's WHERE LOVE HAS GONE or VALLEY OF THE DOLLS or those HARLOW films or THE CARPETBAGGERS (Trash label),  not in their league but it will do for now.  Back in 1978 of course I was too much the movie buff to bother with trash like this, but remember it playing at my local cinema.

THE SECRET OF SANTA VITTORIA. Bombolini (Anthony Quinn), is the mayor of the hillside village of Santa Vittorio... He is in terrible crisis... Where to hide his precious wine? l,317,000 bottles more or less... as the Germans led by Hardy Kruger advance on their town. Add in Anna Magnani as Bombolini's bitter volatile wife and Virna Lisi as the local Contessa ... and let the heavy hand of Stanley Kramer direct (see SHIP OF FOOLS review below). Was this Hollywood's idea of comedy in 1969 ? More utter trash then as every cliche is dusted down, like the Contessa and the civilised German officer being attracted to each other, her true love is that noble soldier (Sergio Franchi) - it took 2 writers to come up with this from a Robert Crichton novel ?

The wine is hidden in an old Roman cave and has to be hidden so well that the Germans will not find the bottles. When the Germans arrives, it becomes a battle of wits for the possession of the wine. Quinn & Co play Italian by numbers, with lots of local colour - all those 'colorful' Italians and those peasant faces. It is set during the war but there is not even a gunshot here let along anyone killed. The germans just arrive without any local resistance! No wonder Anna looks exasperated making this piece of Hollywood crap.. 1968's BUONA SERA MRS CAMBELL with Lollobrigida, was much more amusing. Quinn had played so many nationalities, Greek on several occasions: ZORBA and THE GUNS OF NAVARONE (there is still an 'Anthony Quinn beach' in Rhodes where that war opus was filmed), he had already teamed well with Magnani in Cukor's WILD IS THE WIND in 1957 (Magnani label), and teamed several times with Loren, and Lollo (I loved their 1956 HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME in 1956, when I was a kid.).  This is an overlong way to pass an evening or wet afternoon; not one to keep my copy went straight into the garbage can. Quinn (1915-2001) though was marvellous as that Arab sheik Auda Abu Tayi in Lean's LAWRENCE OF ARABIA.

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