Sunday, March 23, 2014

La bugiarda (1965)

Italian Poster

La bugiarda, directed by Luigi Comencini and based on a play, is an Italian comedy in which Catherine plays a young woman who is busy juggling three boyfriends.  The film was shot in black-and-white.  This may be a little lazy on my part, but I'm going to just give you the synopsis as it appears in the U.S. pressbook (It will give you a good idea of exactly how the film was described by the distributor):

"It's Christmas, the season for giving; and the young beauty who calls herself Silvana (Catherine Spaak) has the spirit.  She enriches Christmas Eve by giving her favors to Count Adriano Silveri (Enrico Maria Salreno), brightens the day of her darling dentist, Arturo (Marc Michel), and then goes to the convent, where she was brought up...for her annual confession.

The truth is that it's always giving time for Silvana.  She spends three days a week as the Count's mistress, and three with Arturo.  She manages this deception by pretending to be an airline hostess, borrowing her roommate's name and flight schedules.  The priest is horrified, but Silvana refuses to repent.  She insists that she is giving her men equal time and equal love.  And she doesn't even mention Gianni (Manuel Miranda), whom she often sees on the seventh day.  To him, she is a fellow student named Maria.

Complications?  Of course, but Silvana relishes them.  She even creates them.  She dreams up a non-existent mother whom she is taking to the movies, and arranges for both her lovers to be there.  She attaches herself to a woman in the theatre, enjoys the excitement, and then fabricates a tale about needing protection.   When the men leave, she confesses!

"Mother" comes in handy when the real Silvana's plane is reported missing and her grieving lovers think that she is lost.  They discover each other at the airport and go to the Count's home to drown their misery and bitterness.  They are drunkenly consoling each other when "mother" appears.  She rails at them for not having prevented Silvana from flying, and they soon sob their forgiveness.  Silvana follows up with a note, a recording, and a suicide threat.  Her lovers find her in a gas-filled apartment, and how can they know that she has just taken off an oxygen mask?  Competing in loving attention, they take her to the Count's country home.  Who is to share the double-bed?  Silvana resorts to the old envelope game, and gives each a blank sheet of paper.  Overcome by jealousy, both men prowl, run into each other, and crash into the bedroom.  Silvana is outraged!  She was testing their love, and they have failed her.  Arturo storms out!

Silvana promises the Count that she will be his alone, and persuades him to keep their love secret so as not to hurt Arturo.  Then she convinces Arturo that he alone is to be the privileged one!  So it's all back to what Silvana considers normal, with love on the schedule six days a week.

The student?  All he ever learns is that Silvana is really an airline hostess who will given him her one free day!"

I like this film.  My favorite Italian comedies from the 1960's tend to be those that are based around what I think of as battle-of-the-sexes type humor, films like Il magnifico cornuto.  It's the battle between chauvinistic Italian men and the women who, in reality, wield the true power that drives the humor.  La bugiarda is that type of film, and I would classify it as "classic Spaak," a movie that should be on the must-see list for Catherine fans.  Catherine is truly the star of the film, and she gets to show off her comedic talents.  Don't get bogged down into believability or arty messages, just enjoy some good escapist movie fun.

I particularly enjoyed two of the scenes described above in the synopsis, the scene where Catherine is confessing to the priest and the scene where she meets two of her suitors in a movie theater (each unknown to the other).  Those scenes are well-done, humorous, and Catherine performs well.

In my mind, La bugiarda rounds out the over-all fantastic early part of Catherine's career.  Although she portrays a young woman, rather than a teenager, per se, this was the last film made by Catherine before she turned 20, and the tone of the film fits nicely with her earlier work.  Catherine's film work from I dolci inganni  in 1960 through La bugiarda in 1965, although containing a few misses, is a body of work for which any actress should be proud, and it established Catherine as a truly international movie star.  

On a side-note, Catherine's roommate in the film (the real airline stewardess) is played by Janine Reynaud. Janine would go on to gain a modicum of fame in several European sexploitation films of the late 1960's and early 1970's.

La bugiarda was Catherine's first film project of 1965 (lensed in the Winter of 1965).  The July 15, 1964 issue of Variety reported from Rome that "Catherine Spaak to star for Ultra Film in Luigi Comencini picture, 'La Bugiarda' (The Liar), which Medusa releases."   The March 26, 1965 Variety reported that Catherine had "recently wound production on La Bugiarda."  The June 30, 1965 Variety reported "Catherine Spaak to Paris to dub her latest, 'La Bugiarda' (The Liar)."
IMDB says that the film was released in Italy on March 22, 1965 (I presume that means Catherine's June dubbing work was for the French language version).  It also shows release dates for France (August 31, 1965), Spain (November 29, 1965), Finland (March 11, 1966), and Mexico (March 24, 1967).

Under the title Six Days a Week, the film was released in the U.S. by National Showmanship Films Corp. (a subsidiary of Income Properties, Inc.) in 1969. The November 27, 1968 Variety reported that the "[l]atest instant film company is National Showmanship Films Corp., releasing arm of National Showmanship, Inc.  The latter, in turn, is one of several companies comprising Income Properties, Inc., publicly-held conglomerate. ... First acquisitions of Showmanship Corp. are ... the Italian 'Sei Giorni a Settemani' (Six Days a Week), directed by Luigi Comencini and featuring Catherine Spaak."

As far as I can tell, the U.S. release was very limited, so I am probably fortunate to have found a copy of the pressbook.  There is no mention of the film's release on any of the schedules in Boxoffice, and I have not been able to locate any U.S. press reviews for the film.  However, Variety reported grosses for the film (starting in the March 19, 1969 edition) for 3 weeks at two theaters in Philadelphia: the Bala (Week 1 - $4,100; Week 2 - $2,800; and Week 3 - $3,700) and the Yorktown (Week 1 - $3,800; Week 2 - $2,200; and Week 3 - $3,500).  Those grosses were considered "quiet," "dull," "thin," and "slim."  It seems safe to conclude that very few people in the U.S. saw this film, and I will be lucky to ever find any posters, lobby cards, or stills for the U.S. release.  I have seen no indication of whether it was a dubbed or subtitled version.

The Bala, a 1,450-seat theater with a balcony, opened in 1926 in Cynwyd, a suburb of Philadelphia.  In the 1990's, it was converted to a tri-plex.  Here is a picture of the marquee, along with a picture of how the main floor of the auditorium looked in 1928.

The Yorktown Theatre, a 550-seat theatre that has since been demolished, was located in the Elkins Park section of North Philadelphia.  Built in 1934, by the 1960's it was an art house theatre showing mostly foreign films and was booked jointly with the Bala.  Here is a picture of the marquee:

Based on the pressbook, it appears that the distributor in the U.S. tried to market the film as a sexploitation film in line with more daring late-1960's fare, which, in reality, it clearly was not.  Here is the cover of the pressbook, along with a page showing the advertising material that was available (I have never seen any of the advertising material, only the pressbook):

Here are some Italian posters and fotobustas:

Here is a foreign (i.e. non-U.S.) still:


 The Italian soundtrack record:

A Spanish poster and pressbook:

A German program:

A Belgian poster:
A French poster and still:

Here are some very interesting jumbo-sized stills.  Originally, they had the French title "le Partage de Catherine" printed at the bottom, however, a new title "Especially on Sunday" has been taped over that title.  The stills came from Canada, so my theory is that such stills were used in conjunction with the film in French-speaking parts of Canada, but the new title was used in English-speaking parts of Canada.  IMDB has no information indicating a title of "Especially on Sunday," and I have so far been unable to find any other information concerning such a release.

A Mexican lobby card:


Friday, March 21, 2014

Catherine Spaak: The Year in Review - 1964

1964 Japanese Pin-Up

As 1964 dawned, Catherine's personal life was rocky, since she had just split from husband Fabrizio Capucci in a very public manner and was battling for custody of their daughter Sabrina.  Her career, however, was full steam ahead.  In 1964, Catherine would truly become an international celebrity, as she began to receive significant publicity and exposure in America.  Her music career continued to move forward, and, in December, she made her stage debut in Rome.

Catherine began the year by working on The Man With the Balloons with Marco Ferreri and Marcello Mastroianni in January and February.

The January 1 issue of Variety reported from Rome:  "Catherine Spaak busy these days with skedded shots for Roger Vadim's "La Ronde," opposite Marcello Mastroianni in Carlo Ponti's 'Man of the Five Baloons,' directed by Marco Ferreri, and 'The Garden of Fitzi Contini,' opposite Jacques Perrin, with Valerio Zurlini directing; her 'Empty Canvas' is a current release, and 'The Warm Life' an upcomer."  It also contains an article concerning a four-picture co-production deal between Embassy and Carlo Ponti, in which it notes "Another pic in parlay, 'Empty Canvas,' has also been playing well abroad."  For whatever reason, she did not appear in The Garden of Fitzi Contini.

The January 15 issue of Variety reported:  "Catherine Spaak to Milan for role in 'Man of the Five Baloons' opposite Marcello Mastroianni, which Carlo Ponti is producing with Marco Ferreri as director."

The January 22 issue of Variety reported:  "Embassy Pictures has acquired the U.S.-Canada distrib rights to the Italo comedy-drama 'Crazy Desires' Ugo Tognazzi-Catherine Spaak starrer."

The February 12 issue of Variety reported from Rome that a "character involved in Marco Ferreri's 'Man of the Five Baloons,' currently shooting in Milan with Marcello Mastroianni and Catherine Spaak, has sued company on charges character is offensive."  

It appears that Catherine shot her scenes for La Ronde in Paris in February, although Roger Vadim was shooting the film over the course of the winter and spring.  The April 15 issue of Variety reported:  "Roger Vadim winding La Ronde."  This press photo is stamped "February 11, 1964" and has a snipe on the back indicating that it shows Catherine arriving at Orly airport in Paris to work on La Ronde.  It notes that this was the first time that Catherine was allowed to leave Italy following the December 1963 incident in which she was detained at the border with Sabrina.

La calda vita premiered on Italy on February 25, 1964.

In March, The Empty Canvas debuted in America.  Variety reported (in the March 11 and March 18 editions) on a controversy between Embassy Pictures and newspapers in Los Angeles, because the newspapers were censoring ads for the film by covering up some of Catherine's exposed skin.

On March 23, Of Wayward Love premiered in New York.

Also, in March, Catherine headlined at the Valencia Fair in Spain and tested for Carlo Ponti's film Boccaccio 2000 (in which she did not ultimately appear).  It is not clear if she was singing at the fair, or merely appearing as a famous actress. The March 25 issue of Variety reported that "Film actress Catherine Spaak, Italian crooner Adriano Celentano, and the Fausto Papetti Orchestra are headlined at" one of the stages at the Valencia Fair in the Spanish port city, an event which traditionally kicks off the tourist and bullfighting season in Spain.  Finally, it reported from Rome that "Catherine Spaak tested for Carlo Ponti's cartoon-and-live feature, 'Boccaccio 2000'."

The March issue of Esquire in the U.S. included a picture essay called "Three Cheers For These European Actresses," which featured full-page pictures of Stefania Sandrelli and of Catherine.  Here is Catherine's picture:

Catherine made her first trip to the U.S. in April to promote The Empty Canvas and to discuss other career opportunities.  While in the U.S. (apparently for the entire month of April), she met legendary Italian director Federico Fellini for the first time and attended the Oscars.

The March 25 issue of Variety reported that "Catherine Spaak will make her first U.S. visit April 1 to help plug Embassy's 'Empty Canvas' in which she costars.  Bette Davis coming to Gotham April 3 and Joe Levine planning a gala reception for her in connection with her starrer for him, 'Empty Canvas'."  

The April 8 issue of Variety indicated that reports in Rome are "that Catherine Spaak has some Hollywood bids after U.S. debut of latest, 'Empty Canvas'."

The April 13 issue of Variety reported that "Catherine Spaak winged in to view her first Oscar."

In the April 15 issue of Variety, Army Archerd reported that "Fellini visited Disneyland, he met Catherine Spaak, also a Rome resident - but they had not met until this Hollywood trip.  The 19-year-old Miss Spaak, who revealed plenty in 'Empty Canvas,' was refused admittance to the Vegas nudie palaces."

The April 17 issue of Variety reported that "Catherine Spaak meets [with Producer Hal] Wallis during her Coast'ing - a possible stewardess in 'Boeing, Boeing,' which takes off this fall."  Catherine did not appear in that Jerry Lewis film.  

The April 22 issue of Variety reported from Rome that "Catherine Spaak off to coast for visit and pic talks."

Here are some pictures of Catherine at the Movieland Wax Museum in California.  It appears that they were probably taken during her 1964 trip to California (and not during her work there in 1966):

The May 6 issue of Variety reported from Rome that "Catherine Spaak back from states, reports she's to start in pic called 'With Anger.'  I have no idea what picture this could have been.  Perhaps it was a project that did not work out for one reason or another.

Thought not pictured on the cover, Catherine was the subject of a feature article in the U.S. in the May 2 Saturday Evening Post:

The June 10 issue of Variety reported from Rome that "Unidis has an ambitious '64-'65 release slate:  two Catherine Spaak starrers, Damiano Damiani's 'Con Rabbia e con Amore' and 'Per Tre Notti D'Amore.'  Also, it was reported that "Catherine Spaak won a special award for 'La Noia'" when the Donatello David Awards were announced.  Those awards were presented by the Italian Exhibitors Association.  Catherine did not make a film called Con rabbia e con amore.

Catherine worked on Tre notti d'amore in July and August.  The July 1 issue of Variety reported from Rome that "Catherine Spaak back from Paris and readying stint in 'Per Tre Notti D'Amore' (For Three Nights of Love), also a three-part item directed by Mauro Bolognini, Luigi Comencini, and Renato Castellani; Silio Clementelli produces for Jolly Film."   Here is a magazine clipping that appears to show Catherine on the set:

Crazy Desire premiered in the U.S. on July 2 in New York City.

The July 8 issue of Variety reported that "Catherine Spaak presented Rome Zoo with pair of pumas."

The July 15 issue of Variety reported from Rome that "Catherine Spaak to star for Ultra Film in Luigi Comencini picture, "La Bugiarda" (The Liar), which Medusa releases."  

On July 26, 1964, Catherine received a special award called the "Targa d'Oro" (the Golden Plate) for her performance in La Noia at the David di Donatello awards presented by The Academy of Italian Cinema (L'accademia del Cinema Italiano).

The July 1964 edition of Cosmopolitan in the U.S. contained an interesting feature about Catherine (which has been previously posted on the blog; see the February 3, 2011 post).

The August 1964 British edition of Vogue includes photos of Catherine in a feature called "The Knitted Masquerade."  When available to me, I will update this post with the images.

The August 1, 1964 U.S. edition of Vogue included a photo of Catherine in a feature called "Chicerino Fashion From Italy."

The August 5 issue of Variety reported from Rome that "Catherine Spaak and Renato Salvatori to Sicily for exteriors on 'For Three Nights of Love,' with Renato Castellani directing this third episode; others were helmed by Mauro Bolognini and Luigi Cimencini."

The August 12 issue of Variety, in an article on the music industry in Italy, reported that "One major effort to overcome doldrums is being made by Milan's Ricordi, which has released a dozen-odd 45s slanted at the juve vacation market...Among the releases...Catherine Spaak [is] good on 'Esercito del Surf' (though less effective on flipover 'Mi Fai Paura')."  Here is that record in two covers, or perhaps the pictures are of the front and back covers; I'm not sure:

Her first 45 rpm record released in 1964 had been Questi vent'anni miei (from the film I malamondo)/Penso a te.

Here is a Brazilian ad for Malamondo and a U.S. one sheet poster, both of which mention the inclusion of Catherine's song:

While Catherine's version was included in the actual film, it appears that a version by Ken Colman may have been included on the soundtrack album instead of Catherine's version used in the film.  It is not clear whether or not Catherine's version also appears on the album.  I have not yet had an opportunity to listen to it.

Her second 45 rpm release of the year had been Non e niente (from La calda vita), which made it into the top 30 on the Italian chart.

L'esercito del surf and Mi fai paura were also included on a compilation album called Parata d'estate, which was released by Ricordi in 1964.

Catherine worked on Weekend in Dunkirk during the late summer and fall.  The August 19 Variety (from Paris):  UA will probably take the presently winding Robert and Raymond Hakim production "Week-end a Zydcoote" for various territories.  The November 25 issue of Variety reported from Rome that "Catherine Spaak due in from Paris dubbing chores."   The December 2 issue of Variety reported from Rome that "Catherine Spaak skied in from Paris."

The August 21 edition of Time has an article called "New Faces:  Les Girls" that talks about hot, up-and-coming European actresses.  Discussed are Stefania Sandrelli, Rosanna Schiaffino, Sylva Koscina, Virna Lisi, Honor Blackman, Shirley Eaton, Senta Berger, Dahlia Lavi, Sophie Daumier, Catherine Deneuve, Francoise Dorleac, and Catherine, stating:

"Catherine Spaak, 19, is a lithe, wide-eyed, legal-age Lolita type who calls Belgium's Foreign Minister Oncle Paul Henri.  She got her start at 15 in Carlo Ponti's The Adolescents, recently taught herself English to appear in the The Empty Canvas with Horst Buchholz and Bette Davis.  Catherine recently finished a remake of La Ronde in Paris, then circled back to Rome to start work on Three Nights of Love."

La ronde premiered in France on October 16, 1964.

In December, Catherine made her stage debut.  The December 9 issue of Variety, in regard to stage productions, reported from Rome that "Catherine Spaak made her legit debut here to good comments in Prokofiev's 'Peter and the Wolf' at Olimpico.  Here is a picture of Catherine as she read from Peter and the Wolf while a symphony orchestra played behind her.

Week-end a Zuydcoote premiered in France on December 18, 1964.

Catherine rounded out the year by accompany her sister, Agnes, to Paris.  The December 31 issue of Variety reported that Catherine (and sister Agnes) had gone to Paris.

Here is the cover and inside photo of the December 1964 Novita:

Here are a couple of modeling photos from 1964 (which are probably from a magazine shoot, but I do not yet know which one):

Here are a couple of French magazine photos from 1964:

Japanese magazine clippings from 1964:

A spread in the October 1964 Cinema magazine:

Some unknown magazine clippings that I think are probably from 1964:

I think that this picture is from around 1964:

Some type of card that has a 1964 date on it:

Here are some magazine covers for Catherine from 1964:

A picture in a Japanese movie magazine: