29 July 2012

Silvia Sorente

French starlet Silvia Sorente (1941) appeared as a sensual leading lady in a dozen French, Spanish and Italian B-films of the 1960’s.

Silvia Sorente
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/232. Photo: Gérard Decaux.

Magnificent Body
Silvia Sorente was born in 1941 in Paris, France. She is sometimes credited as Sylvia Sor(r)ent(e) or Jane Fleming. She made her first film appearances in French films like the actioner Hold-up à Saint-Trop' (1960, Louis Félix) and the rather sordid drama L'Eternite Pour Nous/Sin on the Beach (1961, Jose Benazeraf). According to the IMDb reviewer “the main raison d'etre of this minor films is to show off the magnificent body of Sylvia Sorrente, which it does to great effect in teasing states of semi-undress and wetness. The film reflects the zeitgeist of the early 60's before outright nudity, panting and grappling took charge.” More interesting is her next film, Taras Bulba, il cosacco/Plains of Battle (1963, Ferdinando Baldi). This Italian production had the same title, plot and release date as the famous Hollywood treatment Taras Bulba (1962), but no stars nor budget. However, in the opinion of the IMDb reviewer, it is a superior film to the Hollywood version. Sorente then appeared as the dancer-informant Lolita in the Euro-western El Llanero/Jaguar (1963, Jess Franco) starring Jose Suarez and Roberto Camardiel. This was cult director Franco’s only foray into the genre of the Western. It tells the story of the civil war in Venezuela in the 1860’s. Robert Monell calls it on his blog I’m in a Jess Franco State of Mind “a beautifully composed (by Emilio Foriscot) period adventure/melodrama which looks and plays like a classical US western with its Fordian images of silhouetted riders seen on distance ridges, while also providing a glimpse of the coming Sergio Leone Eurowestern style”. And according to Robert Firsching at AllMovie “Sylvia Sorente's steamy performance is the highlight of this entertaining curio”. Sorente created a stir by going topless in the Italian haunted house production Danza Macabra/Castle of Blood (1964) from genre director Antonio Margheriti aka Anthony M. Dawson. In Danza Macabra  a cast including horror icon Barbara Steele is terrorized in a haunted castle. According to Robert Girsching it is “one of the best Italian horror films of the decade” and “one of the handful of definitive Italian gothics”. Later Margheriti would remake the film in widescreen color as Nella Stretta Morsa del Ragno/Web of the Spider (1971). In the British sex comedy Mission to Paradise/Bikini Paradise (1965, Gregg G. Tallas) two military officers are shipwrecked on an island. The island is populated by beautiful young and nearly naked girls who want to use them for marriage and mating purposes. Silvia is of course one of these virgins.

Clip from L'Eternite Pour Nous (1961). Source: Arnoux Stéphane (Daily Motion).

Opium and Heroin
Silvia Sorrente then worked in France and appeared in Ne nous fachons pas/Let's Not Get Angry (1966, Georges Lautner). Lino Ventura stars in this crime comedy as a former gangster who comes out of retirement to help a petty thief. Silvia played Ventura’s girlfriend. She played a small part in The Poppy Is Also a Flower (1966, Terence Young). This spy adventure provides a look into the manufacture and trafficking of opium and heroin. The original story, set in Iran, was written by James Bond creator Ian Fleming who died shortly before he was to pen the screenplay. The film was originally made for TV and starred Senta Berger and Yul Brynner. Funded in part by a grant from Xerox, it was the last of four television films commissioned by the United Nations, to publicise its missions and roles in world peace and diplomacy. The film was narrated by Grace Kelly (as Princess Grace of Monaco) and also contains several cameos from stars like Angie Dickinson, Rita Hayworth and Marcello Mastroianni. The stars worked for a salary of $1 to support the anti-drug message. In 1967 a theatrical version was released into American theaters. One of Silvia Sorente's last films was the espionage thriller Le vicomte règle ses comptes/The Viscount (1967, Maurice Cloche). She starred opposite Hollywood star Kerwin Mathews, who plays a smooth-talking insurance investigator who looks into a bank robbery and ends up breaking up two famous gangs involved in a drug war. The story was based on one of the popular OSS 117 spy books by Jean Bruce. When The Viscount was shown in the US in May 1967 Silvia’s name was dubbed into Jane Fleming. The American distributors felt that her alliterative name was not appealing enough to American audiences, while alliterative names used to be so popular (Brigitte Bardot, Claudia Cardinale, Diana Dors, Marilyn Monroe …). And then her career stopped. Where did Silvia Sorente go? I could not find more information on the web about her.

Trailer for Danza Macabra/Castle of Blood (1964). Source: Synapse Films (YouTube).

Sources: Robert Monell (I’m in a Jess Franco State of Mind), Robert Firsching (AllMovie), Answers.com, Boxoffice, Wikipedia, and IMDb. See for more pictures of Silvia Sorente and a re-use of this text: Retrorambling.

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