Saturday, February 8, 2014

La calda vita (1964)

(Italian Two-Panel Poster, courtesy of the archives at

After recently watching it for the third time, I am convinced that La calda vita is a very, very good film, among the best of Catherine's career.  La calda vita is a tale of teen angst involving Sergia (Catherine), Freddy (Jacques Perrin), and Mark (Fabrizio Capucci).  Sergia is a young, 18-year-old girl, recently graduated from high school, who often hangs out with her older sister and the sister's clique of friends.  For a change, however, Sergia agrees to accompany her friends Freddy and Mark on a beach adventure.  The two boys plan to stay at an unoccupied cottage in a secluded area of beach, telling Sergia that it belongs to Freddy's uncle.  The boys' main motive is that they both hope to sleep with Sergia.

As the tale unfolds, we see the push and pull of this young love triangle.  Sergia, a virgin, is interested in Freddy, also a virgin, but Freddy is unsure of how to pursue his physical feelings.  Mark, impetuous and erratic, becomes upset (and unglued) at Sergia's lack of interest in him.  The story is an accurate reflection of the teen angst involved in growing up and exploring sexual feelings.  

Catherine is absolutely fantastic as Sergia, carrying the film with an acting performance as good as any in her career and exhibiting a beauty that electrifies the screen, sporting a long, chestnut-colored hair style.  She deftly injects Sergia's character with a maturity that exceeds that of Freddy and Mark, but is still innocent and unsure of herself.  Perrin is very good as Freddy, the more thoughtful and mature of the two boys, and Capucci is OK, although in my opinion his performance was the weakest of the the three.  Gabriele Ferzetti gives a solid performance as the 40-year-old cottage owner, who arrives home unexpectedly and ultimately takes Sergia's virginity.

The film was known under the international English title of The Warm Life, which is perfect, because the lush, color cinematography gives the film a warmth and soothing atmosphere that permeates every aspect of the film.  The score, by Carlo Rustichelli, is beautiful and perfectly sets the mood.  The song Non e niente  is heard as an instrumental throughout the film, and Catherine's soft, haunting vocal is perfect over the film's closing.  Interestingly, it is sung in English by Peter Tevis at one point during the film.  Tevis, an American folk singer, was best known for his work on Italian soundtracks with Ennio Morricone.  He was also briefly married to American actress Tiffany Boling.

In keeping with many of her previous roles, Catherine smokes a cigarette on-screen, displays her dancing skills, and shows a lot of skin during scenes of implied nudity, although never quite taking the next step to on-screen nudity.  In one great water skiing sequence, some of the shots clearly show Catherine skiing.  I was impressed with her skiing ability!

La calda vita is a must-see for all Catherine fans and is a classic that should be enjoyed by all movie-lovers.  It represents Catherine's last role that I would classify as her classic "precocious teen" screen persona.  This is the type of film that would be perfect for an American showing on TCM. 

Filmed in the fall of 1963 in Sardinia and released in Italy on February 25, 1964, Catherine's performance is even more impressive, considering that she was starring with her husband, and their short marriage was on its last legs.  The couple split in a very public manner soon after completion of the film.  Interestingly, Sante Achilli was a camera operator on this film (as he was on Catherine's previous film, The Empty Canvas), and he became Catherine's constant companion upon her split with Fabrizio.

Apparently Fabrizio was injured during filming.  The December 4, 1963 issue of Variety reported that he was "recovering from injuries sustained in fall from rocks on Sardinian locations for La Calda Vita (The Warm Life)."  This clipping seems to be about his accident:

The December 16, 1964 edition of Variety reported that "Jolly Films sold three Catherine Spaak pix to Magna for U.S. and Canada: 'Tre Notti D'Amore', 'La Calda Vita', and upcomer actress does after her current 'La Bugiarda'."  It further reported that Magna (a new releasing outfit) planned to release a slate of films, including La Calda Vita at some point after March of 1965 and that each release "will be merchandised and supported by a full exploitation and advertising campaign."

Jolly Film's co-owner, Arrigo Colombo, was reported in the December 22, 1965 issue of Variety as having been in New York the previous week to negotiate deals for distribution of Jolly product.  The biggest item on his agenda was negotiating a deal for distribution of the Clint Eastwood film "A Fistful of Dollars."  However, the article also noted that he also had a conference "with Magna Pictures on distribution of Catherine Spaak films, 'La Calda Vita'  (The Hot Life) and 'The Notti d'Amore' (sic) (Three Nights of Love).  Asked why Miss Spaak happened to be in so many of his company's films, Colombo said that Jolly had a three option deal with her, so they used her, and that the three films she had made have all been successful.  Principal reason for the visit, however, was to make initial contacts with American distributors for Jolly's two big films of the moment-'Fistful' and a costumer, also starring Miss Spaak, 'Mlle, de Maupin,' an Italian-French coproduction directed by Mauro Bolognini.  'Maupin,' which will have a title change, is based on a book by Theophile Gautier and deals with the rebellion of a young girl by dressing as a man and being drafted into the army.  Tomas ('Agony and Ecstasy') Milian and Robert Hossein have principal male roles.  Because of the transvestite gimmick and pic's comedy slant, Colombo believes that its U.S. potential, if sold and exploited along the lines of 'Tom Jones,' is great."

Apparently Magna delayed the planned 1965 U.S. release of the film for some reason.  According to Boxoffice Magazine, the film was released in the U.S. by Magna under the title La Calda Vita in March of 1967 with a running time of 110 minutes.  The version that I have viewed has a running time of 100 minutes.  Boxoffice gave no indication of any reviews of the film or other information about its release.  IMDB says that this was a subtitled version.   As discussed by Dylan in his original post, a shorter, English-dubbed version was released somewhere, sometime, by somebody.  I have never seen any American promotional material for the film.  Hopefully, future research will disclose additional information about the U.S. release of the film.

Interestingly, in the August 12, 1965 edition of Variety, there is an article about Mexico banning nude scenes in Mexican-made feature films.  The article notes that some censorship rules had been relaxed that year, as evidenced by the fact that La calda vita "would have been slashed in [the] past because of violence."

Here are some on-set photos:

Here is a short, cool video clip from the film's set:

Here is an Italian trailer for the film:

Now, for promotional material, starting with a couple of Italian locandina posters:

Here is the Italian One-Panel poster (courtesy of the archives at

An Italian Four Panel Poster:

Italian fotobustas:

An Italian still:
German program and lobby cards:

A Japanese poster and magazine clipping:

A Thai poster:

A Polish poster (courtesy of the archives at

A couple of Italian records:

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