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The Fire in Francesca (1977)

A private detective is hired by a Hollywood agent to find out who killed a beautiful young movie star.


Shaun Costello (uncredited)


Uncredited cast:
Ursula Austin Ursula Austin ... Girl from Previous Night (uncredited)
Patty Boyd Patty Boyd ... Francesca Farrell (uncredited)
Roger Caine Roger Caine ... Dan McCord P.I. (uncredited)
Shaun Costello Shaun Costello ... Troy Winston (uncredited)
Jean Dalton Jean Dalton ... Sue Ann (uncredited)
Vanessa del Rio ... Nadine Rothman (uncredited)
Ron Dorfman ... Andrew Harrington (uncredited)
Ashley Moore Ashley Moore ... Bobby (uncredited)


A private detective is hired by a Hollywood agent to find out who killed a beautiful young movie star.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Adult | Crime | Mystery







Release Date:

December 1977 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Avon Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Shaun Costello narrates the film's trailer. See more »


Shaun Costello's character is "Troy Winston". In the voice-over, Roger Caine initially calls him "Winston Troy". See more »


Follows Dirty Susan (1977) See more »


Love Theme (Main Title)
from Chinatown (1974)
Written by Jerry Goldsmith
See more »

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User Reviews

Lofty Ambitions on a Shoestring
21 January 2006 | by NodriesrespectSee all my reviews

Shaun Costello allowed himself to be inspired be no less than Otto Preminger's classic noir LAURA starring Gene Tierney in a career-defining performance and Clifton Webb camping it up as the indelible gossip columnist Waldo Lydecker. The frightfully low budget turns out to be the reason the movie gets into deep trouble really fast. Key plot points constantly need to be related in voice-over by detective-hero Dan McCord ("Roger Caine" a/k/a Al Levitsky who was one of the victims of George Romero's MARTIN) because the money didn't stretch to shooting any of these scenes !

Following a shot of the New York skyline at dawn, scored by an extract of Bernard Herrmann's VERTIGO soundtrack (the pillaging of mainstream movie scores being something of a Costello trademark throughout his directorial career), we're introduced to the dapper Dan waking up with a hangover and an unknown bedmate, played by Ursula Austin, star of Doris Wishman's fornication film foray COME WITH ME MY LOVE. Prior to their early morning tumble, he receives a phone call from agent to the Hollywood stars Troy Winston (Costello himself), reporting the shotgun murder of screen queen Francesca Farrel, portrayed by lovely Patty Boyd who pretty much used a different name on every movie and remains best known as the hippie chick from Armand Weston's TAKE OFF. Meeting McCord in Central Park (ah, production value !), Winston fills the private eye in on some of the more unseemly aspects of Francesca's rise to fame. These include her exchange of sexual favors for professional representation by the agent and an unfortunate association with voracious Broadway producer Nadine Rothman, an unlikely character name for lusty Latina Vanessa Del Rio at this early stage of her career. While the story is commendably complex, Costello tries to tell it almost entirely in sexual encounters with the narration attempting to fill in the gaps. Fortunately, most of these gropes generate a fair amount of heat.

Cute Jean Dalton (fondly remembered as the star of Cecil Howard's melancholic PEACH FUZZ aka GEORGIA PEACH, shot that same year) lights up the screen as put-upon wannabe actress Sue Ann who's taken advantage of extensively by Del Rio and fellow producer Andrew Harrington (respected cinematographer and occasionally effective filmmaker in his own right Ron Dorfman a/k/a "Art Ben") in a particularly scorching number. Another highlight has Francesca submitting to her manipulative agent and his best buddy, veteran performer Ashley Moore, featuring a most unusual moment in heterosexual hardcore that might make tragically straight men wince as Costello keeps eagerly stroking and lapping the lady's genitals WHILE she's simultaneously penetrated by his friend so his fingers and tongue frequently graze the other man's member ! The fact that this film was firmly geared towards the raincoat crowd should be obvious from the extensive use of monster shots temporarily transforming pudenda into abstract landscapes during uncharacteristically (for the period) lengthy bouts of oral intercourse.

The source material was obviously dear to Costello who would return to it the following year with Fiona ON FIRE, now as assistant to Kenneth Schwartz (who's definitely a different guy - he played one of the divorcées in AFTERNOON DELIGHTS - with whom he would also co-direct the superb Dracula EXOTICA) and considerably more comfortably assembled in the way of budget and shooting schedule, incidentally also inaugurating the "Warren Evans" moniker that would stay with him throughout his glossy latter day stage. As a trivia note, Art Ben (his DoP on many of those later works) concocted a personal, admittedly inferior version of the same material with 1984's GOOD GIRL, BAD GIRL.

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