Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"Mata Hari's Filing Her Report..."

Anyone who knows and loves Dario Argento's SUSPIRIA will readily smile at the way those words sounded as they were spoken in the film by the catty, young ballet student Olga, played by Barbara Magnolfi... but in fact they weren't spoken by Magnolfi at all. This, and Olga's other great line ("Names that begin with S are the names of... SNAKES!"), were actually dubbed by the American actress Carolynn de Fonseca, whose eternally breathy, warm, girlish and schmoozy voice was a hallmark of Italian film dubbing for close to five decades.

It's my sad duty to report -- from her husband Ted Rusoff (the nephew of Samuel Z. Arkoff and a dubbing actor/director/legend in his own right) via VW associate editor John Charles -- that Carolynn de Fonseca passed away about six months ago. According to Rusoff, they worked together on "approximately 1200 dubbing projects over the course of 45 years."

For those of us who adore the Italian cinema and were raised on its dubbed imports, who mentally drew lines of continuity in accordance with the invisible family of voices they shared, this news is tantamount to learning that Vincent Price's wife in THE LAST MAN ON EARTH (1963), Nevenka in THE WHIP AND THE BODY (1963), Cleo in TERROR CREATURES FROM THE GRAVE (1965), Aura in THE WITCH IN LOVE (1966), the eponymous narrator of THE WILD WORLD OF JAYNE MANSFIELD (1968), Edwige Fenech's ditzy best friend in BLADE OF THE RIPPER (1971), the nymphomaniac in SLAUGHTER HOTEL (1971), Maciara in DON'T TORTURE THE DUCKLING (1972), Gianna Brezzi in DEEP RED (1975), Anita Ekberg's KILLER NUN (1978), the Roman landlady in INFERNO (1980), the woman in love with the refrigerated severed head in MACABRO (1980), the mother with the breast-fixated zombie son in BURIAL GROUND (1981) and the tragic Frau Bruckner in PHENOMENA (1985, "These are the things that can happen in the life of a woman!") have all left us in one fell swoop.

A remarkable compilation of some of her dubbing credits can be found on her Wikipedia page here, and on her IMDb page here. She also made various onscreen appearances which are noted in these filmographies.

We send our sincere sympathies to Mr. Rusoff and our eternal gratitude to Carolynn de Fonseca for a lifetime of mostly invisible, yet highly distinctive, service.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"Her Mind Was the Most Erotic and Dangerous Part of Her Body."

Mimsy Farmer seduces Robert Walker, Jr., posing as her long lost brother, in ROAD TO SALINA.

... so read the US posters for Georges Lautner's largely forgotten ROAD TO SALINA (1970), which lingers, if at all, in the popular memory as an embarrassment made by an aging Rita Hayworth shortly before her retirement from the screen. I watched it tonight, for the first time uncut, and can't figure out why it has acquired such a low reputation.

It still awaits its DVD debut, so you can only see it via an old Charter Entertainment VHS or DVD-R, where it's badly cropped and less than smoothly dubbed, so that works against it... and yes, at 52, Rita Hayworth is no longer GILDA, but that's not the movie we're watching. Rita's actually fine, playing a delusional woman in middle age, sick with loneliness, who mistakes a young drifter for her son, missing for the past four years; Robert Walker Jr. (the son of one of Hitchcock's STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, fresh from his near catatonic appearance in the commune sequence of EASY RIDER) is very watchable as the boyish, spaced-out protagonist with Clint Eastwood's DIRTY HARRY haircut, who decides to take a break from his bad luck and be mothered for awhile... but he soon gets sistered too. Mimsy Farmer is electrifying as the sexy, teeth-baring, peroxide pixie whose free and faux-incestuous ways tempt Walker to stick around for awhile in a "hot box" in the middle of nowhere.

I would argue that ROAD TO SALINA is exactly what a Seventies film noir properly was and should have been: the depiction of a steamy Venus Fly Trap that you or I might easily wander into, and not be too quick to extract ourselves from -- not another second-hand gumshoe story set in a Hollywood B-movie version of the 1940s.