10 July 2012

Yvonne Romain

Exotic, raven-haired Yvonne Romain (1938) was a British film and television actress in the late 1950’s and 1960’s. The stunning beauty became one of the most popular Scream Queens of the Hammer Studio.

Yvonne Romain
Big German card by ISV, no. PX 7.

Voluptuous figure
Yvonne (or Ivonne) Romain (or Romaine) was born Yvonne Warren in London in 1938. Her parents were of Maltese and British descent, and she was educated in St Mary’s Abbey. Her mother sent her to the Italia Conti acting school and from the age of 12 on she appeared in children’s television shows and repertory theatre. Her screen career began with an uncredited bit part in the comedy The Baby and the Battleship (1956, Jay Lewis) starring Richard Attenborough and John Mills. Her exotic, dark looks and voluptuous figure saw her in the following years often cast in supporting roles as Italian or Spanish girls in war films and comedies. Vredited as Yvonne Warren, she played a memorable role in Action of the Tiger (1957, Terence Young) with Van Johnson, Martine Carol and a young Sean Connery. Later she starred with Connery again in the gangster film The Frightened City (1961, John Lemont). In the meanwhile she took the stage name Romain after the family name of her grandmother and great-grandmother. She is best remembered for her parts in British horror films. At first, she played supporting parts in horror productions like Corridors of Blood (1958, Robert Day) with Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee, and Circus of Horrors (1960, Sidney Hayers) starring Anton Diffring, Donald Pleasence and several international beauties including Erika Remberg, Yvonne Monlaur, and Vanda Hudson.

Yvonne Romain
German postcard by ISV, Sort. 17/6.

Yvonne Romain
German postcard by ISV, Sort. VII/6. Photo: Anglo-Amalgamated.

Night Creatures
Yvonne Romain is best known for The Curse of the Werewolf (1961, Terence Fisher) in which she starred with Oliver Reed in his first major role. Romain plays a mute servant girl in Spain who spurns the advances of the sadistic Marques (Anthony Dawson). She is thrown into a prison cell with a deranged beggar, who rapes her. As a result, she gives birth on Christmas Day to the future wolfman (Reed). Hammer's publicity stills for Werewolf had her photographed in typical 'scream queen' poses alongside a made-up Reed, although giving birth had killed Romain's character in the film, and she and Reed did not share any actual screen time. Her biggest role followed in another Hammer production, Captain Clegg/Night Creatures (1962, Peter Graham Scott). Her co-stars were Peter Cushing and again Oliver Reed, now playing her fiancée. The two appeared together again in an episode of the TV series The Saint featuring Roger Moore (1963), and for a fourth and final time in The Brigand of Kandahar (1965, John Gilling). This was also his (and her) last Hammer outing. Before that, Romain also appeared in the shlock classic Devil Doll (1964, Lindsay Shonteff), about an evil hyponotist and ventriloquist (Bryant Haliday) who plots to gain the millions of a beautiful heiress (Romain).

Yvonne Romain
German postcard by ISV, Sort. 13/6.

Yvonne Romain
German postcard by ISV, Sort. 11/6.

Sexy and sultry
In 1958, Yvonne Romain married Leslie Bricusse , who composed the scores for films as Goldfinger and You Only Twice. Around 1965, they moved to Los Angeles. At that time she turned down a seven year contract with Federico Fellini as that would have meant spending all the time in Rome away from her husband and little son in Hollywood. Once based in the USA, she gradually moved away from the film business. She starred alongside Ann-Margret in the groovy comedy The Swinger (1966, George Sidney). She also appeared with Elvis Presley in Double Trouble (1967, Norman Taurog). In an interview with Jonathan Sothcott for online magazine Bite me, she remembered: "Although I had a great part, it was a dreadful movie. But it was very exciting meeting Elvis. He was very slim and handsome." Romain then practically retired and only returned to the screen briefly for the Anthony Perkins/Stephen Sondheim-scripted murder mystery The Last of Sheila (1973, Herbert Ross) with an ensemble cast including James Coburn, Dyan Cannon and James Mason. Romain(e) played the title character, but is only seen in the film's opening scene as the victim of a brutal murder. Then Yvonne Romain retired from acting. She went to care for her son, Adam Bricusse, who was born in 1964 and would later become an artist. The last decades, she has assisted her husband in writing scores, and is now living in Los Angeles and Paris. At Hammer and Beyond, Holger Haage commemmorates her: "Still stunning looking in her seventies, she occasionally shows up at Fan Gettogethers. Sexy and sultry she may not have made a huge number of screen appearances, but she is fondly remembered by Hammer Fans the world over".

Trailer for The Curse of the Werewolf (1961). Source: TollyOnLine (YouTube).

Trailer of Devil Doll (1964). Source: disengaged1 (YouTube).

Sources: Jonathan Sothcott (Bite me magazine), Brian J. Walker (Brian’s Drive-In Theater), Holger Haase (Hammer and Beyond), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

1 comment:

Bunched Undies said...

My, what a beauty. I now have another reason to see Night Creatures. Thanks Bob.