Wednesday, March 08, 2017

A Franco Eureka

I'm working on a review for SCREEM Magazine of Jess Franco's NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND DESIRES (Mondo Macabro) and, while watching it, I had a brainstorm that I've never seen noted elsewhere.

The movie is a kind of reworking of a story previously told, in different ways, in other Franco movies like SUCCUBUS (1967), NIGHTMARES COME AT NIGHT (1970), LORNA THE EXORCIST (1974), DORIANA GRAY (1976) and SHINING SEX (1977)... but as soon as I saw the opening with Lina Romay participating in a nightclub mentalist act, something clicked in me. It was then that I realized the seed of all these stories (one of the main arteries of Franco's filmography) was Cornell Woolrich's novel NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES - or the 1948 John Farrow film made of it. (My personal bet would be the novel, as Franco drew inspiration from Woolrich's THE BRIDE WORE BLACK for his THE DIABOLICAL DR. Z some years before Fran├žois Truffaut got around to filming it. I don't know how I missed this, it was so bold to see; the Spanish title of the Woolrich novel and Farrow film is MIL OJOS TIENE LA NOCHE, and the Franco film's Spanish title is MIL SEXOS TIENE LA NOCHE.)

Update: Since originally posting, I have been apprised by Facebook friends that this connection was previously cited in a Franco interview by Robert Monnell and Carlos Aguilar's book on Franco. I was unaware of this. But I'm not finished...

Then, as the story continued to unfold into the realm of mind control, the other shoe fell. It was then that I realized what Franco had actually done to create this central storyline, which was to playfully conflate NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES with another film of similar title, Fritz Lang's THE THOUSAND EYES OF DR. MABUSE! 

I've never seen this connection noted by anyone - and it was right there in the film's title all along.

My SCREEM review will go into more detail.

(c) 2017 by Tim Lucas. All rights reserved by the author.

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