20 October 2013

Maria-Rosa Rodriguez

Exotic starlet Maria-Rosa Rodriguez was the sexy leading lady of a dozen French and Italian films of the 1960s and early 1970s. Her main claim to fame was the Louis de Funès comedy Le grand restaurant (1966).

Maria Rosa Rodriguez
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/335. Photo: Art Messick.

Miss Ecuador Mundo 1960

There is not much biographical information to be found about Maria-Rosa Rodriguez on the internet. A source suggests that she was a Spanish actress, but possibly she is born in Ecuador: in 1960 a Maria-Rosa Rodriguez was crowned Miss Ecuador Mundo 1960.

However, there is a bit more information about her film career. IMDb writes that during her film career she was also credited as Maria Rosa Rodrigues, Rosa-Maria Rodrigues, Rosa Rodriguez and Toty Rodriguez.

Her first film appearance was an uncredited part as ‘Palma Diamantino’ in the French comedy Pouic-Pouic (Jean Girault, 1963) starring Louis de Funès. Soon followed more film parts as a stripper in the kinky cannibal comedy Aimez-vous les femmes?/Do You Like Women? (Jean Léon, 1964), co-written by Roman Polanski, and the sexploitation drama L'amour à la chaine/Tight Skirts, Loose Pleasures (Claude de Givray, 1964).

Maria Rosa appeared again as eye-candy in the spy film Coplan FX 18/FX-18 Superspy (Riccardo Freda, 1964), the comedy Les gorilles/The Gorillas (Jean Girault, 1964) and the crime comedy La grande frousse/The Big Scare (Jean-Pierre Mocky, 1964) starring Bourvil.

Other French films of the mid-1960s with her were Les enquiquineurs/The pests (Roland Quignon, 1965), the comedy anthology Les bons vivants/How to Keep the Red Lamp Burning (Gilles Grangier, Georges Lautner, 1965) and the melodrama Le chant du monde/Song of the World (Marcel Camus, 1965) starring Hardy Krüger.

Maria-Rosa Rodriguez
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/334. Photo: Art Messick.

Comedy Hit

1966 must have been quite a good year for Maria-Rosa Rodriguez. She was the leading lady opposite the immensely popular Louis de Funès in the hit comedy Le grand restaurant/The Big Restaurant (Jacques Besnard, 1966).

The choleric and energetic De Funès is the chef of Septim's, a very exclusive Paris restaurant. Problems occur when the president of an unnamed country gets kidnapped while having a dinner at Septim's. With police, gangsters and Maria-Rosa Rodriquez behind his back the always gesticularing De Funès tries to find the missing head of state by himself. The highlight of the film is a fabulous scene where a DS Citroen falls into a river and continues its ride as a boat.

Rodriguez soon followed this success up with a role in the fun filled caper Estouffade à la Caraïbe/The Gold Robbers (Jacques Besnard, 1967) costarring with swimming champion Frederick Stafford, Jean Seberg and Serge Gainsbourg. She also appeared on TV in Amalia Escudero, an episode of Au théâtre ce soir/Tonight at the Theatre (1966). More TV roles followed in series like Les chevaliers du ciel/The Aeronauts (1967) – about the adventures of the French comic book heroes Tanguy and Laverdure - and Fortune (Henri Colpi, 1969).

In the early 1970s she moved to Italy where she appeared in the Giallo Il coltello di ghiaccio/Knife of Ice (Umberto Lenzi, 1972) starring Carroll Baker. Her last film according to IMDb was a Spanish horror production, La novia ensangrentada/Blood Castle (Vincente Aranda, 1972).

Most of Maria-Rosa Rodriguez’s filmographies on the net stop here, but she kept on working as an actress. Under the name of Toty Rodriguez she is now a well known stage actress in Ecuador.

In 1989 she appeared in another film, the East-German production Die Besteigung des Chimborazo/The Ascent of the Chimborazo (Rainer Simon, 1989) filmed on location in Germany, France, Spain and Ecuador. In this adventure film she appeared briefly as a countess.

More recently she was seen in a leading part in the Ecuadorian film Un titán en el ring/A Titan in the Ring (Viviana Cordero, 2002). According to Rotten Tomatoes it’s a shocking drama set in a small village in the mountainous region of the Andes, where the children are drawn to a new priest and the prime entertainment is a series of masked wrestling matches held at a local coliseum.

French trailer for Le grand restaurant (1966). Source: Imineo (YouTube).

Creepy scene from Il coltello di ghiaccio/Knife of Ice (1972) with Carroll Baker and Elaine Stewart. Source: Stranevisioni (YouTube).

Clip from a Spanish language TV Telerama programme about the career of Toty Rodriguez. (Sorry, the sound is terrible.) Source: Videosetv1 (YouTube).

Sources: IMDb, AllMovie, Rotten Tomatoes and Wikipedia.

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