Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Bava's Lost Super Giallo Opportunity

Tomorrow marks the commencement of the 59th annual Internationale Filmfestspiele in Berlin. I have a number of friends who are boarding planes today to attend, hopeful of meeting and attracting investors for their current projects, and I wish them all success. Their scripts are all something seldom seen in theaters today -- originals, not remakes-- so they can use all the positive thinking you can send their way. I, for one, don't believe a country that voted Barack Obama into office is interested in continuing to subsist on a steady diet of remakes, but evidently stubborn Hollywood thinks differently. Even flops like THE ILLUSTRATED MAN are being green-lit.

The above scan from a 1965 Italian trade paper reminds us that even the greats of cinema who have now passed on into history, such as Mario Bava, had to spend much of their careers in pursuit of funding. This ad attempted to stir up interest for a 1965 project called 12 bambole bionde ("12 Blonde Dolls"), described as a venture between Bava, actor-turned-producer Ulderico Sciarretta, and Sciarretta’s production company, Eco Film.

The advertisement asks: “Who killed Gino? Who killed Linda? Who killed Paolo? Who killed Romolo? Who killed Raymondo? Who killed Emerson? When these questions are asked, Inspector Klem will answer them!” (Apparently most of the “12 Blonde Dolls” were to be men!)

What is interesting about the ad—which goes on to promise “not just a Super Giallo, but a Colossal Giallo”—is that it says absolutely nothing about the movie's obvious and quite ambitious intention of doubling the body count of Bava’s vicious Sei donne per l’assassino (BLOOD AND BLACK LACE, 1964), a film that had the good fortune to be released all around the world. Instead, the ad hubristically proclaims that 12 bambole bionde “follows the grand success of Crimine a due.” This ultra-obscure title, directed by Romano Ferrara and starring John Drew Barrymore and Lisa Gastoni, was apparently Sciarretta’s first and only film as a producer, issued earlier in 1965 and never released outside of Italy.

Understandably, few (if any) investors were attracted by the ad's questions or its hollow boast of Crimine a due's "grand success." The upswing of this faulty strategy: 12 bambole bionde was never made and Bava and Sciarretta never worked together.

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