Monday, September 23, 2013

Le puits aux trois verites (1961)

Italian Poster

After completing her work on I docli inganni in Rome in 1960, Catherine returned to France and studied acting for a few months (where and with whom I have not been able to determine) before appearing in Le puits aux trois verites in 1961.

Le puits aux trois verites, a primarily French, black and white production directed by Francois Villiers, stars Michele Morgan as Renee Pleges, an antique dealer, and Jean-Claude Brialy as Laurent Lenaud, an artist and sometimes con-man.  Catherine plays the role of Daniele Pleges, Renee's teenage daughter who has been away at school. The film is based on a novel of the same name by Jean-Jacques Gautier.

The film begins with the death of Daniele, so that fact should not be considered a spoiler.  The movie unfolds as Renee and Laurent give their differing accounts of the backstory that led to Daniele's death.  Laurent wandered into the life of Renee one day in her antique shop.  Renee half-heartedly resists the advances of Laurent, though it seems inevitable that she will give in to him.  However, before they can leave town on a weekend getaway together, Daniele arrives home unexpectedly from school, announcing that she has quit.  Ultimately, against the wishes of Renee, Daniele and Laurent end up getting married.  The remainder of the film follows the disastrous situation created by the jealous mother and immature husband. 

Le puits aux trois verites is not a bad movie, but I would also not classify it as a particularly good movie, either.  For fans of Catherine, it is a worthwhile look at Catherine's growth as an actress and person before she shot to stardom the following year with the release of La voglia matta.  In this film, Catherine starts to make good use of her mega-watt smile, but she has not yet grown into the "Catherine Spaak look."  As with I dolci inganni, Catherine once again does a good job portraying an innocent teen who reaches out for love with an older man, although in this film her role requires her to go further and play the part of a young, inexperienced wife.

Admittedly, I am completely biased, but Catherine is the most interesting thing about this film.  Not only are the characters of Renee and Laurent unlikeable, but Ms. Morgan and Mr. Brialy are just not very interesting or believable in their performances.   Brialy, in particular, is just too unbelievable in his role as Laurent, because nothing about him seems like it would be attractive to a 40ish woman.  He just comes across as a bratty, immature 26-year old con-man.  Italian-born actress Scilla Gabel has a good supporting part as the stripper girlfriend of Laurent after he splits up with Daniele.  On an interesting side-note, you can spot young Jean-Louis Trintingnant briefly in a scene at about the 74-minute mark. 

In some of the press coverage of Catherine in the U.S. in the mid-1960's, references are made to her "nude" scenes, implying that she is a rather scandalous European teenager.  For example, in the press material for The Empty Canvas, it is stated that "Catherine caused a sensation with a nude scene in 'The Three Faces of Sin'."  Presumably that reference is to a scene in the film where Daniele is posing nude for her painter-husband, Laurent.  While Catherine may or may not have actually been nude during the shooting of the scene, the camera presents nothing more than her bare back.  While that scene and other similar scenes of Catherine in that era may have been considered scandalous in some parts of the world at the time, the press fixation on Catherine as having performed a number of "nude" scenes as a teenager is misleading (at least in terms of how the public views such scenes today) and was apparently geared toward sensationalism to attract readers and movie-goers.

The film premiered in France on October 13, 1961.  Known in English-speaking countries as The Three Faces of Sin, it premiered in New York City on August 7, 1963 according to IMDB.  I have yet to see any record of that U.S. release in Variety or Box Office, nor have I ever seen any U.S. promotional material for the film, so I do not know if that U.S. release was a dubbed version or a subtitled version.  The film was released in France on DVD in 2011.

Now, for the promotional material section of this post.

Here are some press photos of Catherine in regard to promotion of the film at Cannes (along with a 1962 Japanese magazine clipping that appears to include a photo taken at the same time):

Catherine was also interviewed at Cannes as part of a television show called Les reflets de cannes, which was broadcast on May 16, 1961.  I have not yet been able to locate footage of that interview. 

Italian posters and an Italian pressbook:

A French poster:

A movie tie-in version of the novel:

Courtesy of the archives at, here are a Belgian, a Danish, and a Polish poster:

A German pressbook and two lobby cards:

Some stills:

An Icelandic program:

Mexican lobby cards:

A movie magazine cover promoting the film:

A promotional photo in the June 6, 1961 edition of Cinemonde:

An article in the November 30, 1961 edition of Cine Tele-Revue:

I have only come across three magazine covers of Catherine from 1961, a Swiss magazine, the April 1961 Paris Match and a Japanese magazine, so I am including them here for continuity.  Also included is a photo of Catherine from a December 1961 Israeli magazine.

Here is an article about Catherine from a November 1961 issue of Gioia:

There is an article on Catherine in the June 6, 1961 edition of Cinemonde:

This picture of Agnes and Catherine appeared in the October 1, 1961 edition of the French magazine Jeunesse Cinema:

Here is a French postcard with an unusual picture.  I have no idea of its date, but the picture looks to be early 1960's to me, perhaps 1961.

Here is a 1961 modeling photo of Catherine:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Monday, September 16, 2013

I dolci inganni (1960)

French Poster

In I dolci inganni, a coming-of-age story ably directed by Alberto Lattuada, Catherine plays the role of Francesca, a seventeen year old girl who thinks that she has fallen in love with Enrico, played by Christian Marquand, a thirty-seven-year-old divorced architect and friend of her family.  The film follows Francesca over the course of a day, from the time that she awakes with love on her mind until she eventually consummates that love and ultimately returns home to go to bed that evening, wondering what it all means.  During that day, we see Francesca as she interacts with her brother, school friends, and others, all the time displaying her longing to understand love at that vulnerable teenage time between childhood and adulthood.  Similar to many Italian films of the era, I dolci inganni was shot in beautiful black and white.  It also provides a very early role for the accomplished French-born actor Jean Sorel. 

As I discussed in the post entitled Early Spaak, Catherine was chosen for the role of Francesca after Sophia Loren saw Catherine being interviewed on TV and suggested to her producer-husband Carlo Ponti that Catherine might be perfect for the role.  Sophia saw something that intrigued her about Catherine.  Watching the film 50+ years later, I couldn't agree more with her.  The inexperienced, fifteen-year-old Catherine displayed a strong natural acting ability and surprising screen presence.  It would be very interesting to see the interview that caught Sophia's eye, because these qualities in Catherine are not evident in her very brief appearance in Le Trou.

In some scenes in the film where she is interacting with other actors, Catherine's inexperience seems to show a little, but that also strikes me as a positive thing.  The slight awkwardness that I noticed at times gives Francesca's character a certain vulnerability and innocence that is perfect for the role, and Catherine's overall screen presence makes for a strong performance from a girl so young.  Catherine did particularly noteworthy work in several scenes where the camera lingers on her as she is in deep thought with only her facial expressions to give us a hint at what she is thinking.  The film opens with such a scene, where she is awakening from a powerful dream.  Another occurs at around the 53-minute mark where she is leaning on a juke box and considering whether or not to go to Enrico. Finally, the film comes full-circle at the end as she is in deep thought and going to bed, ultimately looking directly into the camera before the credits roll.  Although it is not one of my favorite Catherine films, I do like the film, and many of the qualities that ultimately made Catherine a star are apparent here in her first major performance.  Below is Dylan's screen capture of the film's closing scene as Catherine looks into the camera (from his January 15, 2011 post about the film):

The film premiered in Italy on October 15, 1960 and in France on July 19, 1961.  It was known as Sweet Deceptions in the United States, but I have found no indication that it was ever released theatrically or on home video in the United States.

Catherine received her first mention in Variety, in the April 27, 1960 edition, which noted that the film was being shot on location in Rome, might be retitled Nymphette, and had "a cast headed by Katherine Spaak and Christian Marquand."  Variety also noted that filming was to begin the first week of June.  Variety followed-up, in the June 15, 1960 edition: "Christian Marquand and Katherine Spaak have the leads in Alberto Lattuada's current preoccupation, 'I Dolci Inganni' ( Titanus)."  Since the film was shooting in June of 1960, the timing of Catherine's move alone to Rome and the filming of this film are unclear (see my previous post entitled Early Spaak). She stated a few years later in interviews that she moved alone to Rome at the end of the Summer of 1960.

Here are some cool pictures of Catherine during filming:

Below are several items of promotional material related to the film, starting with Italian one panel locandina, and four panel posters:

A British Quad poster:

An Argentinian poster:
A Yugoslavian poster:
A French pressbook and French program:

Set of Italian fotobustas:

Some stills (the first one is an on-set candid of Catherine and Alberto Lattuada):

German stills:

A magazine advertisement:

A Japanese 45 rpm record:
A Japanese clipping:

A 1960 Italian magazine article about the film:

An article in the May 20, 1961 edition of Cinemonde:

An article in the April 16, 1960 issue of Jours De France: