20 August 2012

Liliane Brousse

Lovely French film actress Liliane Brousse (1937) appeared in a dozen European films between 1958 and 1964. Her most interesting films are two psychological thrillers for the British Hammer Studio.

Liliane Brousse
French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 310. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Sexy French Maid
Liliane Brousse was born in Cannes, France, in 1937. There is not much more known about her than which films she made. According to IMDb, she started her film career with a supporting role in the French-Itaian adventure film La bigorne/The Amorous Corporal (1958, Robert Darène) with François Périer and Rossana Podestà. She then appeared in small parts opposite hard-boiled action star Eddie Constantine in the French crime film Incognito (1958, Patrice Dally) and the German crime-comedy Hoppla, jetzt kommt Eddie/ Hi, Here's Eddie (1958, Werner Klingler). The following year she played the lead role in the French drama Heures chaudes/Hot Hours (1959, Louis Félix). In the British drama Serious Charge (1959, Terence Young), she splayed a small role as the sexy French maid of an unmarried vicar (Anthony Quayle) in a new parish. When the vicar accuses a 19 year old of being partially responsible for the death of a teenage girl, the young man claims in defiance that the vicar molested him. Despite of the daring, for 1959 even subversive subject matter, this film is now mainly remembered as the film debut of Cliff Richard. She returned to France where she played in the crime film Colère froide/Thunder in the Blood (1960, André Haguet, Jean-Paul Sassy) starring Estella Blain.

Estella Blain
Estella Blain. French postcard by Editions P.I., Paris, no. 1027. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Fascinating Hammer Horror
Liliane Brousse appeared with Jean-Paul Belmondo in the first segment of the historical anthology film Amours celebres/Famous Love Affairs (1961, Michel Boisrond). Next she played a lead role in the Spanish comedy Detective con faldas/Detective in skirts (1962, Ricardo Núñez). Then she moved to the United Kingdom where she added some sensuality and glamour to the fascinating Hammer horror film Paranoiac (1963, Freddie Francis) which stars Oliver Reed as the psychopath Simon. Wayne Malin reviews at IMDb: “Really odd film - very low key (for Hammer). For one thing it was shot in black and white, not the vivid color they usually used. Also there are no monsters here (unless you count Simon) and this is more of a thriller than a horror film. Still it works! It's beautifully directed by Freddie Francis and the plot itself has plenty of twists and turns to keep you off guard.” That same year she made another interesting psychological thriller for Hammer, Maniac (1963, Michael Carreras). Brousse played Annette who works in a French sea-side café/hotel where a lonely American artist (Kerwin Matthews) rents a room. In the film’s extended prologue is shown how a rapist assaulted her and her father brutally murdered the rapist. Her father is since then locked in an asylum, but Annette’s stepmother (Nadia Gray) seduces the artist to help her to get her husband. Although most IMDb reviewers liked her performance, Liliane Broussse could be seen in only one more film since then. Her final film role was a lead in the American sex comedy The Parisienne and the Prudes (1964, Robert J. Gurney Jr.) a.k.a. The Bashful Bikini. This never released film played only at the Cannes Film Festival. Ostensibly an examination of McCarthyism, the plot is about a married couple from New York City who escape the blistering summer heat by visiting a New Jersey nudist colony. Brousse went topless in a scene, but IMDB reviewer Lor describes it as “one of the lamest sex comedies known to man”. After this stinker Liliane Brousse disappeared from the screen.

Trailer for Maniac (1963). Source: Wildwildwes23 (YouTube).

Sources: Les Gens du Cinema (French), AllMovie, Films de France and IMDb.

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