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Lola la piconera (1969)
Spanish Television version with Soledad Miranda
This sentimental musical, based on the play Cuando las Cortés de Cádiz by José María Pemán, was made for Spanish television. The most famous adaptation of his story was in the 1951 melodrama starring Juanita Reina. According to a magazine article about this film, the music is very Spanish and the costumes and choreography are spectacular. The film was shot during the summer, and it was apparently quite hot. A journalist visitor to the set admired the cast and crew's dedication and love for their work, despite spending so long in the heat and managing not to faint. Many scenes were set at gypsy camps and the studio used real gypsies, along with their donkeys and carts! There were a lot of big numbers, so many of the cast were professional singers and dancers. Though it was made for television, the director chose to use film cameras and also to shoot in color, as he was anticipating the future of television. Soledad Miranda plays a sympathetic gypsy. She and the actor playing her husband escaped a serious accident when a lamp exploded and shattered hot crystals where they had been minutes before.
100 Rifles (1969)
don't forget Soledad Miranda
In 1966, future cult starlet Soledad Miranda traded her artistic life for family life and took a two-year break from performing. She decided to return to cinema when offered a role in 100 Rifles. Soledad appears at the beginning of the movie in a scene with Burt Reynolds. They are in a hotel and are lovers; Soledad demands money from him, but he refuses and it gets a little rough. Their fracas on the hotel balcony (where Soledad is topless) is witnessed by all the townspeople. A Spanish journalist who saw the film in London wrote that Soledad's "charms" had nothing to envy of Raquel Welch's, and begged the Spanish censors to let her countrymen see and admire all that God had given her!
also nice for fans of Arcimboldo
This is an excellent introduction to the work of the Quay Brothers and stop-motion animation. It is enjoyable for fans of Svankmajer, but also for fans of the painter Arcimboldo, whose paintings and characters are featured heavily in this short; most notably the Librarian, which is brought to 3D life as the lead puppet, and also characters from The Seasons, The Elements, and others: Vertumnus, Summer, Fire, and so forth. In fact, a subtitle in the film is Portrait of Svankmajer a la Arcimboldo. Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527 - 1593) was an Italian painter known for creating portraits composed of fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, and books, all arranged in a fashion that constitutes a portrait of a character which is represented by all those diverse elements.
Carnival of Souls (1962)
Great Atmospheric Film; Star a Gwyneth Paltrow double!
This is a really fantastic movie. The tone is very spooky and the cinematography is great, as well as the haunting organ score. What struck me most is that the lead actress, Candace Hilligoss, is a dead ringer for Gwyneth Paltrow; the resemblance is both physical and in her mannerisms. Any Paltrow fans would appreciate seeing this. It's freaky! I am surprised Hilligoss didn't make many other movies; she's a great actress and perfect for the role. The abandoned pavilion location (Saltair Resort) is fascinating. The history of the location is as spooky and interesting as the movie itself! I highly recommend this movie for fans of atmospheric scary films. Note: one user comment said the budget was $13,000. However, the budget was actually $30,000.
La reina del Tabarín (1960)
Witty musical comedy with a surprise cameo
This musical romance concerns the tragic entanglements of a beautiful Gypsy girl named Lolita in 1892 Spain. Lolita is singing at a party which she has crashed and she meets the wealthy Fernando, who is posing as a waiter to flirt with her. They begin to fall in love. Yet after Lolita finds out Fernando is engaged, she is devastated and moves to Paris; there she makes her glamorous debut at the Tabarín club. Fernando reads of her great success and goes to Paris to see her. Cult starlet Soledad Miranda has a cameo in this movie. This was an important film for Jess Franco as it was his entry into the professional film world. Several years later, Soledad became Franco's star in numerous movies (Count Dracula, Eugénie, Les cauchemars naissent la nuit, Sex Charade, Vampyros Lesbos, She Killed in Ecstasy, and The Devil Came from Akasava). Oddly enough, the French version is in black and white and begins several scenes into the Spanish version, at the introduction of Fernando.
La bella Mimí (1961)
First movie of cult 60's screen starlet Soledad Miranda
This musical comedy was cult starlet Soledad Miranda's first movie. The film is suprisingly similar to Moulin Rouge in its look, characters, and plot. We are in Madrid in 1914, where the most popular cabaret is the one ruled by the beautiful and shameless Mimí (Queta Claver), who has many suitors vying for her affection. When Mimí hears that there's a police agent (Herato, played by Jaime Avellán) determined to stamp out corruption, she plans on seducing him, disguising herself by acting and dressing like a proper lady. What follows is their romance. Soledad Miranda plays the lead dancer in the opening number and in all the other musical numbers in the movie. She has quite a bit of screen time for her first movie, mostly dancing, her talent in which surely led her to get this role. Quite interestingly, Soledad later appeared with fellow actors Antonio Garisa in Cuatro bodas y pico, Diana Lorys in Les cauchemars naissent la nuit and Sex Charade, and worked with director Elorrieta in Canción de cuna
Ah, Soledad Miranda in all her glory!
Eugénie, Soledad Miranda's first truly starring role in a Jess Franco film, is based on the Marquis de Sade's Eugenie de Franval, and it is a very faithful adaptation by Jess Franco. Soledad plays Eugénie, the daughter of Albert de Franval, an acclaimed writer who, under the pen name "Radeck," is engaged in researching into sexual perversion. Eugénie is a shy, bookish girl whose chance discovery of one of Albert's erotic books unleashes a powerful incestuous attraction. When he becomes aware of this, he introduces her to his sadistic philosophy and they quickly become partners in sexual crime. Their addiction to committing the perfect crime leads them to their next intended victim, a nightclub musician. Yet Eugénie ends up falling for him and her father takes revenge out on everyone. Soledad dominates and enriches the film; her coquettish behavior and enigmatic screen presence make it impossible to look away. She seems to spend half her screen time curled up with her knees to her chest, looking perfectly innocent, which makes her turn to the "dark side" all the more interesting. Franco appears throughout the film as Attila Tanner, a writer intent on learning more about Albert. The film's storyline is told from Eugénie's deathbed as she recounts her tragic life to Tanner. A lush and haunting melodic score by Bruno Nicolai adds to the beauty of this film.
Cuadecuc, vampir (1971)
Eerie documentary on the filming of Jess Franco's Dracula
This is an avant-garde experimental documentary about the filming of Jess Franco's Count Dracula. There is no dialogue, only an atmospheric background score and sound effects (except for at the end, when Christopher Lee reads an excerpt from Bram Stoker's novel). The movie is hard to describe; it shows footage of scenes from Count Dracula being filmed, the actors preparing, special effects, and so forth. It is the only footage of Soledad Miranda as the person she was in real life. In one of the film's most magical moments, director Portabella captures the filming of Lucy's staking, including the precious preparatory moments of Soledad's stage makeup being applied and Jack Taylor (who plays the role of Quincy Morris) gathering her up in his arms and placing her inside her casket. Other memorable moments are Christopher Lee goofing off, Soledad smoking in bed while a shot is prepared, and Soledad and Maria Rohm each flirting with the camera at various points. There is some confusion about how the title is written. I have seen it referred to as Vampir-Cuadecuc, Vampyr/Cuadecuc, Cuadecuc-Vampir, and Cuadecuc (Vampir). The actual on screen title is Cuadecuc, with Vampir in smaller letters below. Therefore, I refer to it here as Cuadecuc/Vampir.
Vampyros Lesbos (1971)
Soledad Miranda's greatest legacy
This eurohorror classic by Jess Franco stars Soledad Miranda as Countess Nadine Carody, a wealthy recluse who strips at a club in Istanbul. Ewa Strömberg plays a woman who is strangely drawn to the Countess. Nadine appears in Linda's dreams, beckoning her. Linda is then sent to the Nadine's island on a business assignment. The film follows the course of the strange romance between Linda and Nadine. Linda falls under Nadine's spell and a living nightmare soon begins. This film mixes dream and reality in a terrific way. Franco appears as Memmet, a sadistic killer. Soledad is absolutely fantastic in this movie. She's very low-key, yet totally captivating all the same. You'll wish you could be possessed by her! Franco's direction involves crazy zoom shots, interspersed footage of insects (with a scorpion that perhaps is meant to mirror the Countess), and a funky pop-art style. The psychedelic music used throughout the movie was written by Manfred Hübler and Siegfried Schwab. Despite its European success, Vampyros Lesbos never received distribution in the United States. It was long considered the Holy Grail of the European lesbian vampire genre. It was a renaissance in interest in Jess Franco, as well as the chart-topping success of the soundtrack in the '90s, that brought the film back into attention. A must-see for anyone into Soledad Miranda, Jess Franco, or vampire movies!
Nachts, wenn Dracula erwacht (1970)
Excellent version of Stoker's novel
Filmed in Spain and Germany, Jess Franco's version of the Bram Stoker classic has Count Dracula as an old man who grows younger whenever he dines on the blood of young maidens. This movie is quite faithful to the novel, unlike so many other Dracula films of the period. Starring screen legend Christopher Lee as Count Dracula, it also features Franco regulars Soledad Miranda, Fred Williams, Maria Rohm, Jack Taylor, Klaus Kinski, and Paul Müller. Franco appears in the film (as he does in many of his movies) as a servant to Professor Van Helsing. Franco contributes great direction and a perfectly eerie atmosphere to this low-budget film, which was one of Soledad's most prominent international roles. The talented cast and direction, as well as a fantastic score by Bruno Nicolai, make this one of the best filmed versions of the Dracula story and a great companion to Francis Ford Coppola's version made decades later.