Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Diciottenni al sole (1962)

U.S. One Sheet Poster

Diciottenni al sole (aka Eighteen in the Sun), directed by Camillo Mastrocinque, finds Catherine in all of her teen star glory as Nicole Molino, a French teenager on vacation at the Italian resort island of Ischia (where the movie was filmed).  Besides Nicole, the film follows the adventures of several other young people on vacation, looking for fun and romance.  Gianni Garko, in the role of Nicola Molina, is Catherine's love interest.  Confusion, comedy, and romance ensue when Catherine's "Nicole" is accidentally booked into the same hotel room with Gianni's "Nicola."  Nicole and Nicola have a love/hate relationship for much of the film, before predictably falling for each other.  Lisa Gastoni ably plays the part of a seductive, bikini-clad woman who is variously pursued by Nicola's friends.  Fabrizio Capucci plays the part of Matthew, who, along with his brother, are trying to scheme their way out of a gambling debt to one of the local tough guys.

Garko had just appeared with Catherine in La voglia matta, as had Capucci.  Presumably, Catherine and Capucci continued their off-screen romance that ignited during the previous film.

Shot in the summer of 1962, this film was Catherine's first to have been shot in color, and the Italian DVD release is a beautiful print.  Catherine is lovely, as is the scenery, and there is really not anything to dislike about this movie.  It is similar to a typical American beach movie of the era, positioned between films like Where the Boys Are and Beach Party.  It is similar to Where the Boys Are, in that it follows several story lines involving young people in pursuit of romance in a beach setting, but unlike that film, it does not address any particularly serious themes.  It is more light-hearted, like the Frankie and Annette beach movies for American International Pictures, but I think that it is funnier and more well-made than many of the AIP beach movies.  It contains the requisite bathing-suit-clad females and music, although not as much as a typical American-made beach movie.

Two particular Catherine scenes stood out to me.  First, she was just perfect in the scene where Nicole and Nicola first find out that they have been assigned to the same room.  The indignant banter between the two is quite humorous and shows off Catherine's comedic abilities that served her so well during this period in her career.  Second, is the scene where Nicole starts doing the twist on a restaurant terrace with another guy, trying to make Nicola jealous.  This is the type image of Catherine that helped shape her into being viewed as the representative of European teens at the time.  She stated in interviews of the era that she liked to go out to clubs and twist in her leisure time.

Typically, there are hints at "scandalous" nudity by Catherine's character.  Nicola is arrested for sunbathing nude, which of course is due to police confusion between the names Nicola Molina and Nicole Molina, as it was Nicole who was actually sunbathing nude.  While there is discussion of this "nude" sunbathing incident at the police station, no such beach scene is actually included in the film.  Nevertheless, the U.S. half sheet poster (as shown further down this blog post) heralds "topless excitement." 

On a little side-note, after having viewed the film several times, I started to notice that Catherine's hair appears to be much longer in some scenes than it does in others.  It is also evident in the stills shown below.

One other item of note, the song "Guardo come dondolo" by Edoardo Vianello was featured in this movie (as well as in Il Sorpasso, another Catherine movie later in the year).  Apparently it was a hit in Italy at the time.  You can do a quick search and view performances of the song on Youtube.  I don't understand a word of it, but it's one of the catchiest tunes that I have ever heard.  Whenever I watch either movie, I get that tune stuck in my head!

In conclusion, Diciotenni al sole is one of my favorite Catherine films and should be considered required viewing by all Catherine fans.  

The film was released in Italy in 1962, although I do not know the exact date.  IMDB indicates that it premiered in New York City on December 15, 1964, but I have found no other information about that premiere.  As you can see from the numbering on the U.S. items below, they all come from a 1966 Richard G. Yates Film Sales, Inc. release.  That release is the only one for which I have ever seen any promotional material.  Also, Thunderbird Films promoted the movie in 1965 under the title Beach Party Italian Style as part of a package of first-run movies being marketed for TV syndication.  I do not know if that syndication was in the U.S. market, the Canadian market, or both.  Shown further down this blog post are the front and back of an 8x10 promotional card used by Thunderbird Films in its 1965 marketing efforts.

The September 1, 1965 issue of Variety noted that "Harry Goldstone has acquired N.Y. and New Jersey distribution rights to two Richard Yates-controlled Italian films, 'Eighteen in the Sun' and 'Passionate Ghost'."

The September 5, 1966 issue of Boxoffice contains a review of Eighteen in the Sun, listing it as an 88-minute Goldstone release.  The review stated in part:

"[D]epending upon the degree of local-level exploitation, this can generate a surprisingly strong boxoffice response.  It has Catherine Spaak, a likable, lissome lovely...and the atmosphere of beach-bum life that can be applied to anywhere, USA, as well as Italy. ... Camillo Mastrocinque has directed with poise and no small awareness of la belle beach.  Richard Pallottini's photographic effects, in handsome Eastman Color, contribute strongly to the swinging mood.  Miss Spaak's name is widely known already and this newest import should aid and abet her career's stateside impact."  

The January 23, 1967 issue of Boxoffice charted the hit releases of the fall quarter of 1966 based on releases with five or more playdates.  There is no mention of Eighteen in the Sun.

It is unclear how all of this information ties together.  In 1994, Richard Yates died at the age of 74 in Boca Raton, Florida.  His obituary states that he was the youngest son of Herbert Yates, founder of Republic Pictures, where Richard served as a Vice President and was responsible for trying to sell movies and serials to television.  In the 1960's he founded Richard G. Yates Film Sales in New York to specialize in bringing foreign films to American television.

Other than the review discussed above, I have found no other mention of the film in Boxoffice magazine.  Until I learn further information, my theory is that Eighteen in the Sun received a very limited theatrical release in the New York area at the end of 1964 in an effort to capitalize on Catherine's growing name recognition in the U.S. during 1964, followed by an attempt at another wider theatrical release (probably on the east coast and/or in Canada) in 1966 and in conjunction with Harry Goldstone in the N.Y./New Jersey area.  The promotional material that is shown in this post relates to that 1966 release.  In the meantime, Richard Yates likely marketed the film to television, including the version promoted by Thunderbird Films.  Regardless of the details, it seems fairly clear that the film received limited theatrical and television exposure in the U.S. and was not widely seen.

Here are some on-set photos:

Now, images of the promotional material.  First up, the U.S. trailer (not in the great quality of the Italian dvd release):
The U.S. One sheet is pictured at the beginning of this post.  Here is the U.S. Half Sheet:

Those were the only two posters available for the U.S. release.  Lobby cards came in a set of 4, as pictured below.  Catherine only appears on one of the cards (bottom right).  Note that the bottom-left card includes a scene (which is also shown above on the half sheet poster) that does not appear in the Italian DVD release for the film, and I can't identify the female pictured.  Lisa Gastoni is featured in the top two cards. IMDB shows a running time of 100 minutes, the Thunderbird Films card below shows a running time of 95 minutes, and the Italian DVD release shows a running time of 96 minutes.  As mentioned earlier, Boxoffice clocked the Goldstone release at 88 minutes.  It would be interesting to know whether there is any real difference between the various versions.  Perhaps that explains the missing scene from the DVD that is shown on this promotional material.

An Italian locandina poster and the Italian soundtrack album:
Stills, mostly promoting the U.S. release:

The U.S. pressbook cover:

The front and back of the Thunderbird Films promotional card used in regard to TV syndication:
Japanese material:
A Spanish poster:
Mexican lobby cards:

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