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.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Romy as Sissi: 1955, 1956, 1957

I first saw the Austrian SISSI when I a kid and was fascinated by all those costumes and this chubby teenager Romy Schneider. Sissi (who became Empress Elizabeth of Austria and led a fascinating life) with her father in Bavaria and with her pet deer, and escaping from home and meeting the young Emperor Franz Joseph, and their romance. He is supposed to be marrying her older sister but chooses Sissi instead to the consternation of his domineering mother. Sissi's own mother is played by Romy's real mother, Magda Schneider, star of a previous generation. The film's success spawned two further ones, also directed by Ernst Marischka: SISSI THE YOUNG EMPRESS in 1956, detailing the early years of their marriage and coping with mother-in-law who wants to bring up their child, and how Sissi copes with the rigours of court life, and in 1957, SISSI: THE FATEFUL YEARS OF AN EMPRESS as Sissi travels around Europe, becomes estranged from the Emperor, is tempted by other romances, and gets over tuberculosis by having a holiday in Greece! (The real Elizabeth was an expert horsewoman and used to go horse-riding in Ireland).
The kitsch is piled on thick but they are all richly enjoyable when one is in the mood. A box of good chocolates and a glass of something sparkly goes down a treat with them. All three were edited into one film FOREVER MY LOVE with highlights of each, and that is quite enough for me, even if dubbed into English. Walt Disney wanted Romy too but she resisted - he got Hayley Mills instead! 
Romy of course went on to that great career, becoming a French cinema icon in the '70s, a very busy decade for her, after her films in England and America, before her untimely death in 1982 aged 43 - as per my other posts and reviews on her films - see Romy label. I have been collecting all her films, theres quite a lot - over 60, including some rubbish ones, but she is endlessly fascinating and attractive and still has a cult following as one of Europe's great international stars - particularly her films with Alain Delon (we will be looking at LA PISCINE again soon), and for director Claude Sautet. 
I have been to the real Empress Elizabeth's summer palace in Corfu, and to her private chapel - the building is now a casino. 
This is what I said about the series when I began this blog: 
SISSI - 1955. I liked this when I saw it as a kid. There are 3 SISSI films, all made in Germany in the '50s, all are saccharine, sentimental confections, very chocolate box cover with pretty dresses, rural scenes, and court intrigue about the early life of Empress Elizabeth of Austria, and seeing them now they are just as enjoyable as ever – the interfering mother-in-law is a particular delight. 
LUDWIG, 1972
All 3 are edited into one compilation FOREVER MY LOVE which is fine for seeing the best of them. The SISSI movies are a guilty pleasure, even if Romy hated them and soon changed her image 
Romy returned to the role for Visconti in his monumental LUDWIG in 1972 where Helmut Berger is ideal as Ludwig, and Trevor Howard and Silvana Mangano are also right as the Wagners. Romy brings a lot of brittle humour and insight to the role of the older Sissi this time around. Right: the 1982 PARIS MATCH issue, which I still have, covering her eventful life and death. 

No comments:

Post a Comment