Margaret Lee in Stop Magazine

Here’s an article about one of my favourite actresses: Margaret Lee.  It’s from a French magazine called Stop (issue no 28).   There’s no interview as such – it just says that the readers of Stop magazine had written in requesting to see more of Margaret and, of course, Stop magazine were only too happy to oblige with several pages of photos (some topless).

The article says that Margaret was engaged as Marilyn Monroe’s double for the film Something’s Got to Give (and looking at the photos in Stop you can see why) but that she had recently made an appearance in an Italian film called Avventura al motel (dir Renato Polselli, 1963).  I haven’t see that film but it seems it is little more than a series of sketches about a number of people who were having illicit affairs in a motel.  They seemed to have a lot of those silly sketch films in Italy in the early 1960s – I’m sure Margaret could have been used to better effect elsewhere, but I guess she always looked fabulous so what the hell, eh?

Anyway, judge for yourself – here she is:

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My Favourite Stuff: Margaret Lee autograph and Hungarian magazine

Back in July 2012 I got to interview the British actress Margaret Lee, who will be well known to those of you who like the director Jess Franco (RIP) or those of you who like Italian movies from the 1960s.  I’m a big fan of Margaret Lee and as she had appeared in many films with the Polish/German actor Klaus Kinski, I asked if she would allow an interview for my Klaus Kinski website Du dumme Sau!   Sadly, since there have been allegations of abuse made by Klaus’ daughter Pola Kinski, the website is no longer active but you can still read the interview here for now. It’s a bit of an exclusive as Margaret Lee is something of a recluse these days, so I was delighted to get the chance to interview her.

Anyway, after the interview Margaret kindly signed an autograph for me on an original 1960s postcard:

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I can’t imagine there are many people who have an autograph from Margaret Lee, especially a dedicated autograph, so I was so pleased to receive it.

I was recently given a copy of a Hungarian magazine which appears to be called Film Színház Musika and has Margaret Lee on the cover.  Unfortunately I don’t speak very much Hungarian (just a few words I have picked up from the many Hungarian films I have watched!) so I can’t really say what the article is about, other than it seems to be an interview with Margaret about her role in the 1969 film House of Pleasure (original title: Frau Wirtin hat auch eine Nichte), which was a West German / Italian / Austrian / Hungarian co-production.  The film was directed by Franz Antel and co-stars included the Giallo favourite Edwige Fenech, Claudio Brook, Karl Michael Vogler, and Heinrich Schweiger.  I haven’t yet got a copy of this film but I will keep an eye out for it at future film fairs.  Anyway, here is the front cover and article for anyone who can understand Hungarian and those who just like looking at the pictures!

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The cover isn’t actually signed, Margaret must have signed a photograph for Film Színház Musika which they used for the cover, as you will note that it is dated 15 November 1968 and the magazine is from 30 November 1968.

Francoise Hardy on Film: Questo Pazzo, Pazzo Mondo Della Canzone

Questo Pazzo, Pazzo Mondo Della Canzone (Dir Bruno Corbucci and Gianni Grimaldi, 1965)

Basic plot:  There isn’t one.  This film (in the version I have) comprises 21 musical tracks interspersed with humorous sketches.

Cast: Actors – Margaret Lee; Sandra Mondaini; Valeria Fabrizi; Aroldo Tieri; Alberto Bonucci; Vittorio Congia; Dana Ghia; Umberto D’Orsi; Halina Zalewska; Jenny Luna; Marina Morgan; Andrea Aureli; Nino Fuscagni. Musical Acts – Françoise Hardy; Petula Clark; Lucio Dalla; Dino; Roby Ferrante; Nico Fidenco; Remo Germani; Riky Gianco; I Flippers; Udo Jürgens; La Cricca; Los Marcellos Ferial; Jenny Luna; Gianni Morandi; Gino Paoli; Rosy; Luigi Tenco; Edoardo Vianello; Little Tony

Availability:   Available through Amazon UK as an Italian Import DVD, with no subtitles.  It costs about £15 plus postage.  The thing to note about this DVD is that on IMDB it states a running time of 103 minutes, but the DVD runs at 84 minutes.  It’s obvious that some of the footage has been cut but I’m not sure why.  There is a photograph of the actress Margaret Lee on the back cover of the DVD but the scene itself does not appear on the DVD and therefore has presumably been cut.  Also, on IMDB it states that “30 Italian singers from the sixties sing their hits” – as previously stated there are just 21 tracks on the DVD and these are performed by, I believe, 19 acts; some of these are, of course, not Italian!

The film in full – *SPOILER ALERT*:  I hardly think this film outline could spoil anything as it’s not really a narrative movie, but just in case anyone complains…

Right, I can’t speak Italian – I can understand the odd word or two just because there are similarities with other languages, but let’s just make it clear that I understood very little of the sketches between the songs.  The reason I bought the DVD was because of Françoise Hardy’s appearance and because of the British actress Margaret Lee, who is a favourite of mine.  See my interview with Margaret Lee on my other website, Du dumme Sau! – as a regular co-star alongside Klaus Kinski I had every reason to interview this beautiful actress for my Kinski website and it was a great pleasure for me to get such an opportunity.

Anyway, back to Questo Pazzo, Pazzo Mondo Della Canzone, as far as I can tell it means something like “the mad, mad world of song”, but don’t quote me on it because I have no Italian.  In any case, it would be an appropriate title because the film is absolutely crazy, although in a good way.  The sketches, I can only guess, appear to be very much of their time and maybe the humour is also very Italian – they involve farting noises, tripping up, lots of face slapping, overacting, shouting, and the vast majority seem to be on the subject of adultery.  But Margaret Lee is the highlight as far as the sketches are concerned for me even if she is only in 2 of them that feature on the DVD.  In the first she runs a man over in her car and in the second her husband catches her kissing another man.  Nothing to stretch her acting abilities here, but she just looks so good!

That’s all I can say as far as the sketches go, so let’s move onto the music instead.  Yes, this film is being reviewed as a film featuring Françoise Hardy, but I’m actually going to take all the songs in order. Please note that I have, largely, had to guess the track listing as the credits do not tie in with the actual footage and there is at least one instance where I’m not sure which band it is, so excuse any errors:

Lucio Dalla – Ma questa sera:  This represents value for money.  What more can you want from a music clip than a blind man with a monkey and a banana on his shoulder; a guy who sings really, really high-pitched oooohhhs; smoking dancers; and something that looks like a Sheila scopitone being projected onto the singer’s t-shirt?  This video is fascinating.

Dino – Così come sei:  This Dino guy has some kind of problem, maybe he has been hurt, I don’t know, but it’s difficult to explain why he is singing an Italian cover of Hey Good Lookin’ and seriously manhandling some pretty lady.  He starts out by ripping off her false eyelashes, then commences to pull off a variety of wigs and hairpieces, and tops it all off by scrubbing her face really hard with a Brillo pad.  Okay, it’s not a Brillo pad, but it might as well be.  Dino had to draw the line somewhere, I guess; these pretty lady extras can’t have been getting paid enough to warrant grievous bodily harm…. Just an observation, Dino looks a little bit like a cleancut version of Paul Quinn of Bourgie Bourgie.

Petula Clark – Pagherai: Petula Clark has never been a favourite of mine, despite the fact that she recorded a few numbers by Serge Gainsbourg.  I can’t explain, but the word unctuous comes to mind when I think of her.  Anyway, the cameraman can’t have liked her much either because he kept his distance – to the extent that you’re not quite sure it’s her for the most part; it could be anyone stood there.  But, surprisingly, when the camera does move in she looks very pleasant indeed.  The song is not much cop though and it has no entertainment factor to make it more appealing.

Luigi Tenco – Lo lo so già:  Nothing much to say about this one.  I guess they can’t all be interesting.

Françoise Hardy – La tua mano:  Not only does Françoise look beautiful but this song is head and shoulders above all the rest on this DVD.  It’s on the All Over the World 1997 Disques Vogue CD, which is well worth buying if you don’t have it already.  Great orchestration on this track too.  Not a lot of action, just Françoise sitting in a boat, but she looks good enough to get away with it, of course.  Note the mis-spelling of the name on the credits:

Jenny Luna – Sola nel sole:  Nothing to say, fairly dull.

Roby Ferrante – Tu sei sempre:  Roby sings his song whilst a mysterious woman hangs around in a lacy burqa type headdress. Not sure what that’s all about…

Lucio Dalla – Lei non è per me:  This is not as good as the opening track.  In fact I’m disappointed if truth be told.  All that seems to be happening is that some woman is chain smoking (there is a lot of smoking going on in this film, actually) and Lucio rubs his eye.  That cigarette smoke is irritating after all, but all I can think of is that he has tiny hands.  Not just small hands, but teeny, tiny hands.  In fact it reminds me of Charlie Kelly’s Uncle Jack in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – he has small hands and asks a lawyer guy to put his hands on top of his when they have their photograph taken so he will look like he has bigger hands.  Maybe Lucio Dalla should have done that too.  Yeah.

Udo Jürgens – Peccata che sia finita cosi:  This is okay, Udo’s a very competent act but the video, which again features a woman smoking, only perks up when Françoise Hardy makes a guest appearance.  Her job is simple, she has to stand around whilst Udo sings his song but she just can’t keep a straight face and for the most part only just manages to repress a smile.  Inside she’s cracking up though.  She’s obviously embarrassed; it’s how I feel when I accidentally happen upon a brass band in the park, I have to move on as quickly as possible.

I Flippers – La Vikinga:  Some crazy guys playing their instruments and pulling faces are accosted by an Amazonian lady wearing glasses and plaits; she’s thumbing a ride.  She’s cute actually, but she’s a bit forthright – they might give her a ride, but only because they’re scared of what she’ll do if they don’t.

Edoardo Viannello – La Tremarella:  I guess this means “the shakes” or something like that.  The video is a bit inappropriate, with the camera zooming in on a girl’s pelvis as she shakes away on a sun lounger.  But you can join in the dance at home and do the finger clicking and hand gestures.  Good fun.

Los Marcellos Ferial – Angelito di Anazio:  This is a sad sounding little number, with good reason, because apparently Angelito di Anzio was a little girl who was rescued by soldiers during the war, only to be killed days later by a bomb.  Cheery little story, that.  These Marcellos Ferial guys just wander around a beach looking glum as a little girl looks worried and hides.  The way the guys walk around together is quite funny but I can’t really recommend this one otherwise.

Riky Gianco – Cuore di negro:  This is a bit rum.  Riky pulls up a chair and watches as a guy and two girls are kissing.  If that’s not naughty enough, Riky also has a shiny backside on his well-worn trousers – could the wardrobe budget not stretch to a new pair of pants for Riky?  This seems like some kind of love triangle story.  The dancers are really good but Riky just comes off looking like he is trying to get in on the action.  Wishful thinking, Riky.

I Flippers (I’m not sure, maybe it’s not?) – ?:  If anyone knows the band and what the track is, please let me know.  This story is basic, some guys wander along the beach shamelessly checking out girls’ bums.  The girls smoke a lot, as they seem to in this film.  Eventually the girls get fed up of the guys perving on them and they push them in the water.  Ha!

Rosy – Un tuffo al cuore:  From what I can make out this is just kissing, boozing and ciggie sharing.  Partay!

Little Tony – La fine di Agosto:  Little Tony is so boring I have only taken one screen grab of him as he wanders around a boat.  Zzz!

La cricca – Il surf della mattonella:  This is brilliant, some odd looking kids singing at the zoo and shaking baby lions around.  Yay!

Gino Paoli – Vivere ancore:  Sinister video, this.  A woman hides behind the door as Gino walks in, but she’s not hidden herself very well, has she?  Just standing against the wall doesn’t make you invisible, lady!  I don’t know where they are but it looks very rundown and there appear to be loads of rolls of carpet in the room and some tinsel.  Very low budget for this, I guess, as Gino couldn’t even be bothered to get dressed up or anything.  The masks on the wall creep me out.

Nico Fidenco – Mi devi credere:  Nico is not very handy with the ladies, poor chap.  One writes “No” on a mirror with lipstick; another, who judging by the state of her hair looks like she has been dragged through a bush backwards, puts her hand in his face to get him to back off.  Why not manhandle the ladies, Nico?  That might help.  Nah, he tries that with a lady in a green dress and a lantern falls off the wall – you can see on the picture below that it is just being held against the wall by their arms.  The next thing you know it’s gone and you never see it again.  The set looks very dusty, so I hope there was a dry cleaning budget at least.

Gianni Morandi – Se puoi uscire una domenica sola con me:  Gianni is a very strange boy.  He snogs puppets with rather too much enthusiasm and the puppets are really, really ugly too.  Strange boy.

Remo Germani – Tra la la Susy:  What a great way to end the film, with a very, very, very catchy song you’ll be humming for days on end.  Not sure what this story is but Remo seems to have been upstaged and overshadowed by the extras in the video.  He walks around a field with some villagers and there is this old guy who is going to get centre-stage by hook or by crook – he’s got a baby donkey he appears to be rather proud of, and why not?  When simply carrying the baby donkey is no longer getting him any attention, he hangs it around his shoulders.  It’s super cute.  Then rather aptly the video ends as, in the background, a donkey bolts off with a man on its back.

What an amusing little film!  You don’t even need to know these singers; it’s just very entertaining indeed.  And Françoise Hardy and Margaret Lee provide the class.

What else to say about this film?  Well, the director Bruno Corbucci should be highly recommended for his screenplay for Sergio Corbucci’s wonderful Il grande silenzio (The Great Silence)Questo Pazzo, Pazzo Mondo Della Canzone is a million miles away from that film, but it’s in a totally different genre and it’s very good fun.  I’d definitely recommend this film.

If anyone knows what happened to the rest of the footage, please let me know as I would like to see the full-length version if there is one out there anywhere.