Monday, July 12, 2010

Fan-Boy Icon #19

You may have noticed my recent penchant for Eurosleaze. It is, perhaps, a phase which I hope you all will weather with me. Blame Netflix if you must. That being said, this week's Fan-Boy Icon is, in my humble opinion, the master of the genre; Jesus "Jess" Franco.

Franco is an Spanish expatriate filmmaker, leaving his native land due to the harsh censorship laws imposed by the other famous Franco, Generalisimo Francisco Franco, the fascist dictator of Spain.

I have discussed a few of Franco's films here in the past including; Deadly Sanctuary, Vampyros Lesbos, and Eugenie de Sade. Franco's films are not to everyone's liking, partly due to the nature of the Eurosleaze business. Franco typically had a limited budget, short production times, and often shot films simultaneously, such as The Blood of Fu-Manchu and The Girl From Rio, which apparently have some shots mixed up. Franco's biggest budget film was likely Deadly Sanctuary aka Marquis de Sade's Justine which had a budget of over one million dollars, and was shot in close to seven weeks. He had originally intended Rosemary Dexter to portray Justine, but the producers thrust Romina Power (daughter of Tyrone Power and Bond Girl Linda Christian) on him. Apparently this hampered his vision for the film, as Christian was on the set constantly, as was Romina's boyfriend who Franco said was a "real prick." Power was not a skilled actress, and according to Franco had to be constantly instructed. There is a scene where Justine is being beaten by the villainess La Dusbois (played artfully by Mercedes McCambridge). Power would not react at all during the scene. McCambridge finally asked Franco if she should really beat her up a bit, which he agreed to and McCambridge did. That was the printed version of the scene.

Franco typically worked, as is the case with many indie/exploitation filmmakers, a small cadre of actors. Maria Rohm, Christopher Lee, and Paul Muller appear in several films. Soledad Miranda (Vampyros Lesbos, Eugenie de Sade, She Killed in Ecstasy) was a favorite up until her death in 1970. Franco then found actress Lina Romay (pictured right) who became his primary star and lifelong companion in 1971.

If you are a Franco fan, you might be interested in my Franco-Phile Tumblr, which will have pictures and information on Uncle Jess' films.

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