28 April 2016

Cathia Caro

Former French actress Cathia Caro (1943) was a young, delicate beauty. At the turn of the 1950s and 1960s, she starred in French and especially Italian films, opposite such stars as Totò, Peppino De Filippo and Aldo Fabrizi.

Cathia Caro
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 735. Photo: Lucienne Chevert.

Isabelle Is Afraid of Men

Cathia Caro was born in Rouen, France, in 1943. Caro first appeared on the big screen in the title role of the film Isabelle a peur des homes/Isabelle Is Afraid of Men (Jean Gourguet, 1957). At the time she was only 14 years old.

She then played the daughter of Arletty and the girlfriend of Jean-Paul Belmondo in the comedy Un drôle de dimanche/What a Sunday (Marc Allégret, 1958). Mario Gauci at IMDb: “A pleasant enough effort, then, if strictly minor (and, ultimately, pretty forgettable) fare.”

In the following years she was particularly active in Italy. She played in well known films such as the comedy Arrangiatevi!/You're on Your Own (Mauro Bolognini, 1959) with Peppino De Filippo, Estate violent/Violent Summer (Valerio Zurlini, 1959) with Eleonora Rossi Drago, and especially the entertaining satire Tartassati/The Over-taxed (Steno, 1959) with Totò and Aldo Fabrizi.

Cathia Caro
French postcard by Editions P.I, Paris, no. 938, offered by "Les Carbones Korès Çarboplane". Photo: Lucienne Chevert.

Cathia Caro
French postcard by Editions P.I, Paris, no. 916, offered by "Les Carbones Korès Çarboplane". Photo: Bernard & Vauclair.

Static and Hokey

In 1959 Cathia Caro made headlines when she attempted suicide. She had a troubled relationship with the boxer Tiberio Mitri.

At the beginning of the 1960s, her career had a boost with the peplum I giganti della Tessaglia/The Giants of Thessaly (Riccardo Freda, 1960). Mario Gauci at IMDb: “Riccardo Freda's involvement here ensures that this is one of the better peplums, even if the result is rather static and hokey overall.”

That year she also co-starred with Peppino De Filippo and Ugo Tognazzi in Genitori in blue-jeans/Parents in blue jeans (Camillo Mastrocinque, 1960).

In the following year she made her final film, the mediocre peplum Il trionfo di Maciste/Triumph of Maciste (Tanio Boccia, 1961) with bodybuilder Kirk Morris. She was only 18 when she retired from the film industry.

Maurizio Arena and Cathia Caro
Italian postcard for Piaggio by Ed. Pontedera. Maurizio Arena and Cathia Caro on a scooter, c. 1960. Caro and Rena played together in e.g. Simpatico mascalzone/Likeable rascal (Mario Amendola, 1959), and Il principe fusto/The Stem Prince (1960), directed by Arena himself.

Tomorrow, twelve more postcards with stars on a Vespa in EFSP's Dazzling Dozen.

Sources: Geoffroy Caillet (Les Gens du Cinéma – French), Mario Gauci (IMDb), AllMovie, Wikipedia (Italian and French) and IMDb.

27 April 2016

Elizabeth The Golden Age (2007)

The British-French-German-American coproduction Elizabeth: The Golden Age (Shekhar Kapur, 2007) is the sequel to Elizabeth (Shekhar Kapur, 1998), both produced by Universal Pictures and Working Title Films. Australian actress Cate Blanchett stars as Queen Elizabeth I of England.

Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth The Golden Age (2007)
Cate Blanchett. German postcard by Universal for the DVD release. Photo: Universal. Publicity still for Elizabeth: the Golden Age (Shekhar Kapur, 2007).

Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth The Golden Age (2007)
Cate Blanchett. German postcard by Universal for the DVD release. Photo: Universal. Publicity still for Elizabeth: the Golden Age (Shekhar Kapur, 2007).

The Trap for Elisabeth

Elizabeth: The Golden Age is a fairly fictionalised portrayal of events during the latter part of her reign. It's 1595 and Spain is the most powerful empire in the world.

King Philip II of Spain (Jordi Mollà), a devout Catholic, wants to bring down the protestant Elizabeth (Cate Blanchett). He is building an armada but needs a rationale to attack.

With covert intrigue, Spain sets a trap for the Queen and her principal secretary, Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush), using as a pawn Elizabeth's cousin Mary Stuart (Samantha Morton), who's under house arrest in the North.

The trap springs, and the armada sets sail, to rendezvous with French ground forces and to attack. During these months, the Virgin Queen falls in love with Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen), keeping him close to court and away from the sea and America. Is treachery or heroism at his heart?

Elizabeth: The Golden Age premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2007. The film won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design and Blanchett received a nomination for Best Actress, becoming the first female actor to receive another Academy Award nomination for the reprisal of the same role.

Geoffrey Rush in Elizabeth The Golden Age (2007)
Geoffrey Rush. German postcard by Universal for the DVD release. Photo: Universal. Publicity still for Elizabeth: the Golden Age (Shekhar Kapur, 2007).

Clive Owen in Elizabeth The Golden Age (2007)
Clive Owen. German postcard by Universal for the DVD release. Photo: Universal. Publicity still for Elizabeth: the Golden Age (Shekhar Kapur, 2007).

Los Angeles' newest cause célèbre

In 1998, Elizabeth (Shekhar Kapur, 1998) had drawn swift and unequivocal praise, and Blanchett's portrayal of the queen had turned her into Los Angeles' newest cause célèbre.

A plethora of awards greeted Kapur's feature and Blanchett's performance, including a Best Actress Academy Award nomination and eight additional Oscar nods. The actress won a Golden Globe and British Academy Award, in addition to a host of critics' circle awards.

However, critics did not like the sequel. Cammila Collar at AllMovie: "As it stands on its own, Elizabeth: The Golden Age is a delightfully bombastic period melodrama, full of sex and war and beautiful dresses. Unfortunately, as a sequel to 1998's Elizabeth (which dealt with earlier events in the 16th century monarch's reign) it's a pale imitator to the throne.

The original Elizabeth grandly showcased the epic nature of a historical turning point, while simultaneously succeeding as both a political thriller and a passionately doomed romance. Add to that themes about God, power, and the manifestations of masculinity and femininity, and you had something so incredible that simply calling it a 'period film' would be like calling The Godfather just another gangster movie. This gave The Golden Age a lot to live up to as a sequel, and unfortunately, it would appear that director Shekhar Kapur just didn't attempt to do so on all fronts."

At IMDb, D. Bruce Brown writes: "It is dazzling and Blanchett can't be denied, but Elizabeth: The Golden Age is like a chick-flick with explosions plus costumes, super hair, and loud, intrusive music. The result is faux epic."

Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth: the Golden Age (2007)
Cate Blanchett. German postcard by Universal for the DVD release. Photo: Universal. Publicity still for Elizabeth: the Golden Age (Shekhar Kapur, 2007).

Cate Blanchett and Clive Owen in Elizabeth The Golden Age (2007)
Cate Blanchett and Clive Owen. German postcard by Universal for the DVD release. Photo: Universal. Publicity still for Elizabeth: the Golden Age (Shekhar Kapur, 2007).

Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007). Official Trailer #1. Source: Movieclips (YouTube).

Sources: Cammila Collar (AllMovie), D. Bruce Brown (IMDb), AllMovie, Wikipedia and IMDb.

26 April 2016

Nicole Berger

Fair-haired Nicole Berger (1934-1967) was a French leading lady of the 1950s and 1960s, who appeared in several Nouvelle Vague films. Her promising career was cut short by a car crash near Rouen.

Nicole Berger
Belgian collectors card by Merbotex, Bruxelles / Palace Izegem, no. 41. Photo: Lucienne Chevert.

Sidewalk café Cokes and Tuileries park benches

Nicole Berger was born Nicole Gouspeyre in Paris in 1934. She had a brief theatrical career, particularly in the Compagnie Barrault-Renaud, before she started to work in the cinema.

She made her film debut in a small part in Jocelyn (Jacques de Casembroot, 1952) as the sister of Jean Desailly and then played a supporting part in the French comedy Julietta (Marc Allégret, 1953|), starring Dany Robin and Jean Marais.

The following year, director Claude Autant-Lara gave her her first real chance. He offered her one of the three leading roles opposite Edwige Feuillère and Pierre-Michel Beck in Le Blé en herbe/The Game of Love (Claude Autant-Lara, 1954), based on the novel by Colette.

She then played in several international films. In Germany she starred in Ein Mädchen aus Flandern/The Girl from Flanders (Helmut Käutner, 1956) and in the Swedish-Argentinean film Livets vår/Spring of Life (Arne Mattsson, 1958) with Folke Sundquist. She also played a supporting part in the French film Celui qui doit mourir/He Who Must Die (Jules Dassin, 1957), starring Jean Servais and Carl Möhner. The film, based on the novel O Hristos Xanastavronetai (Christ Recrucified) by Nikos Kazantzakis, was entered into the 1957 Cannes Film Festival.

She reunited with Claude Autant-Lara for the crime film En cas de malheur/Love Is My Profession (Claude Autant-Lara, 1958), after a novel by Georges Simenon. She played the maid of femme fatale Brigitte Bardot. That year she also starred in Véronique et son cancre/Veronique and Her Dunce (1958), a short comedy film by Éric Rohmer, which he directed before his series of Contes moraux/Six Moral Tales.

She also appeared in the short Tous les garçons s'appellent Patrick/All Boys Are Called Patrick (1959) written by Éric Rohmer and directed by Jean-Luc Godard. Michael Buening at AllMovie: “a slight, but charming, story about two girlfriends (Nicole Berger and Anne Collette) who are seduced by Lothario Patrick (Jean-Claude Brialy) over sidewalk café Cokes and on Tuileries park benches. When both Charlotte and Véronique arrive for the date, Patrick brings another woman. The story is told in a fairly straightforward style. Godard's early love of youthful frivolity, pop culture, and referential film geekery are in abundant evidence (the girls' apartment walls are decorated with film posters, they mimic their idols) and there are some tentative steps taken with visual and audio jump cuts.”

In the following years Rohmer and Godard would achieve fame as directors of the Nouvelle Vague, the French New Wave. She also worked with François Truffaut and appeared in his feature film Tirez sur le pianist/Shoot the Piano Player (François Truffaut, 1960) starring Charles Aznavour as a small time piano player in a bar who has a secret past that he keeps hidden.

Nicole Berger and Pierre Michel Beck in Le Blé en herbe (1954)
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 1463. Photo: Franco London Film, Paris / Prisma. Publicity still for Le Blé en herbe/The Game of Love (Claude Autant-Lara, 1954) with Pierre-Michel Beck.

Nicole Berger
French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 663. Photo: Lucienne Chevert.

The father of the Blaxploitation

Nicole Berger appeared in the British historical drama The Siege of Sidney Street (Robert S. Baker, Monty Berman, 1960 with Donald Sinden and Kieron Moore. The film depicts the 1911 Siege of Sidney Street in which armed police surrounded a house occupied by a gang in the East End of London.

In France she appeared in the crime dramas La denunciation/The Denunciation (Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, 1962) opposite Maurice Ronet, and Chair de poule/Highway Pickup (Julien Duvivier, 1963) starring Robert Hossein and Catherine Rouvel. The screenplay of the latter is based on the novel Come Easy, Go Easy by James Hadley Chase.

James Travers at Films de France: “Chair de poule is among the most overlooked and underrated of Julien Duvivier's films and yet, whilst clearly not the director's greatest work, it has many commendable features and serves as a highly respectable homage to the American film noir thrillers of the 1950s.”

During the 1960s Nicole Berger turned to television, and played in several TV-films. She was also the protagonist of the popular soap Cécilia, médecin de campagne/Cecilia country doctor (André Michel, 1966).

Her final film was the experimental feature La Permission/The Story of a Three-Day Pass (Melvin Van Peebles, 1967). Wikipedia: "In the early 1960s, young filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles was unable to establish himself as a film director in Hollywood because the concept of a black director was unheard of in America at that time. Consequently, he went to France, learned the language, and wrote La Permission in French. Learning he could adapt one of his novels into film with a $60,000 grant from the French Cinema Center, so long as his film was 'artistically valuable, but not necessarily commercially viable,' he sought a film producer, and shot La Permission in 36 days for a cost of $200,000."

Harry Baird plays a black American GI, Turner, who falls in love with a French girl (Nicole Berger). Upon his return from an idyllic weekend, Turner is demoted by his bigoted captain for fraternising with a white girl. In the following years, Van Peebles became the father of the ‘blaxploitation’ film.

In 1967, Nicole Berger was killed in a car crash not far from the French town of Rouen. She was thrown from a car driven by actress Dany Dauberson. Berger was only 32.

Nicole Berger
French postcard by Editions du Globe, Paris, no. 424. Photo: Lucienne Chevert.

Sources: Michael Buening (AllMovie), James Travers (Films de France), AllMovie, Wikipedia and IMDb.