Tag Archives: Sharon Tate

Alive And Well And Swinging In Copenhagen…

After making “Valley Of The Dolls” in 1967, Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski married in London during January 1968 leading Tate to take a short break from work. However, by the summer of that year she had started work on what would be her last film to be released (January 1969 in the UK) before her death – “The Wrecking Crew”.

EyNW1qP

HELM2copyDirected by Phil Karlson (“The Silencers”, “Kid Galahad”), “The Wrecking Crew” was the fourth, and ultimately final, movie to feature the character of Matt Helm and was loosely based on the 1960 novel of the same name by author Donald Hamilton.

Nigel Green
Nigel Green

As the film opens we are witnessing the robbery of a billion dollars worth of gold from a train in Denmark by a gang working for Count Massimo Contini (Nigel Green – “Deadlier Than The Male”, “The Ipcress File”), who watches the action unfold on monitors in his château and is intent on causing financial chaos throughout the Western world.

Elke Sommer
Elke Sommer

Contini is aided in his quest by his glamorous sidekick  and lover Linka Karensky (Elke Sommer – “A Shot In The Dark”, “Lisa And The Devil”), who makes her appearance in a quite show stopping dress.

Dean Martin
Dean Martin

Womanising professional photographer and wisecracking agent Matt Helm (Dean Martin – “Ocean’s 11”, “Bandolero!”) is dispatched by his organisation ICE, under direction from the US President, to Copenhagen with 48 hours to retrieve the gold and save the American economy.

Tina Louise
Tina Louise

Arriving at his hotel Matt is invited to the room of Lola Medina (Tina Louise – “The Stepford Wives”, “The Warrior Empress”), a dancer who was Contini’s lover until Karensky arrived on the scene, who claims to have useful information about the robbery of the gold that will help him, but Medina is killed in an explosion.

Sharon Tate & Dean Martin
Sharon Tate & Dean Martin

Freya Carlson (Sharon Tate – “Don’t Make Waves”, “Valley Of The Dolls”) , a seemingly inept worker from the Danish tourist bureau, is provided to Matt to help him by arranging a photographic shoot at Contini’s château as cover for his investigations. Freya wears glasses and thus Matt fails to see her beauty despite his fondness for chasing the fairer sex.

Nancy Kwan
Nancy Kwan

At the château it becomes apparent that Contini is on to them so Matt and Freya make a hasty exit and find themselves pursued by a variety of characters, including Yu-Rang (Nancy Kwan – “The Peking Medallion”, “Wonder Women”), and others of Contini’s hired hands.

Elke Sommer
Elke Sommer

Karensky then invites Matt to her room, claiming that she wants to enter into a partnership with him and get out away from Contini. Their head-to-head is interrupted by Freya’s arrival leading to Matt leaving Karensky with the promise that she has a deal and should call him.

Sharon Tate  Dean Martin
Sharon Tate & Dean Martin

Returning to his hotel, Matt finds Freya has shed her glasses and slipped into a slinky white mini-dress for what is, for me, the best scene of the whole movie as Freya dances slowly around the room whilst handing Matt and cigarette and drink – all for no apparent reason!

John Larch
John Larch

Matt’s boss MacDonald (John Larch – “Dirty Harry”, “The Amityville Horror”) arrives at the hotel and informs a disbelieving Matt that Freya is actually a highly trained British agent.

Sharon Tate & Nancy Kwan
Sharon Tate & Nancy Kwan

From there on in Matt and Freya contend with a number of scenarios involving Yu-Rang, Karensky and Contini in his quest to retrieve the gold for ICE…

Dean Martin
Dean Martin

There was supposed to have been a fifth Matt Helm movie, indeed as with the James Bond films this one ends with the announcement of the title of the next film (“The Ravagers”) during the end credits, but it was cancelled after Dean Martin pulled out.

thirteen-chairs-posterSharon Tate, meanwhile, went on to film “The Thirteen Chairs” (otherwise known as “12 + 1”) with Orson Welles and Terry-Thomas in early 1969, shortly after becoming pregnant. That film is seemingly more or less impossible to find these days, with the exception of an Italian language version on YouTube, unfortunately. Tate was murdered, only weeks before she was due to give birth, before that film’s release.

Sharon Tate
Sharon Tate

In truth, Martin was getting a little long in the tooth for the role of Matt Helm by this point, but plays things with his tongue firmly in his cheek. Tate, however, was great, showed promise on the comedy front and managed to upstage Sommer completely (despite the latter’s variety of plunging dresses) with her performance in the second half of the movie.

Explosion
Explosion

Ultimately this film is a light-hearted spy caper. It’s full of gentle humour, action, hip and swinging 60s music, gadgets, explosions and hot chicks.

Highly recommended!

affiche-matt-helm-regle-son-comte-the-wrecking-crew-1968-2

Advertisements

Can Success Spoil Anne, Jennifer And Neely?

Following completion of “Don’t Make Waves” Sharon Tate was cast to play a lead role in the drama film “Valley Of The Dolls”. The film was directed by Mark Robson (“Von Ryan’s Express”, “Earthquake”) and released in the UK in January 1968.

VALLEY OF THE DOLLS - American Poster 3

Jacqueline Susann - Valley Of The Dolls
Jacqueline Susann – Valley Of The Dolls

The movie was based on Jacqueline Susann’s 1966 novel, also entitled “Valley Of The Dolls”, which had become the Publishers Weekly bestselling novel in the US for that year, was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as best-selling novel of all time by the time Susann passed away in 1974, and has gone on to sell more than thirty million copies.

Barbara Parkins
Barbara Parkins

As the film opens, Anne Welles (Barbara Parkins – “Peyton Place”, “Christina”) boards a train and leaves her hometown of Lawrenceville for New York as snow falls all around. Sent for an interview by her employment agency she lands a job working as a secretary for a theatrical lawyer, Henry Bellamy (Robert H. Harris – “How To Make A Monster”, “Apache Uprising”).

Susan Hayward
Susan Hayward

Sent to a Broadway theatre to deliver some contracts to egotistical star-of-the-show actress Helen Lawson (Susan Hayward – “House Of Strangers”, “I’ll Cry Tomorrow”), Anne finds that Lawson wants one of the singers in the show fired to avoid any chance of her stealing the limelight and tells Anne to ensure Bellamy deals with it immediately.

Paul Burke & Patty Duke
Paul Burke & Patty Duke

Anne looks on as the singer Neely O’Hara (Patty Duke – “Me, Natalie”, “The Miracle Worker”) is forced out of the show and then helps Lyon Burke (Paul Burke – “Naked City”, “The Thomas Crown Affair”), an attorney-cum-agent at the theatrical agency where she works, to get Neely a slot to perform during a telethon – leading to her starting on the road to film stardom in Hollywood via an act on the nightclub circuit.

Sharon Tate
Sharon Tate

Meanwhile, Neely’s friend Jennifer North (Sharon Tate – “Eye Of The Devil”, “The Fearless Vampire Hunters”) is in the chorus for the show and enjoying a succession of rich boyfriends. She sends money back home to her mother who she tells during a phone call that she knows that “…I don’t have any talent, and I know all I have is a body, and I am doing my bust exercises…”

Tony Scotti, Sharon Tate & Lee Grant
Tony Scotti, Sharon Tate & Lee Grant

Jennifer soon finds herself falling into a relationship with nightclub singer Tony Polar (Tony Scotti – “Nick Quarry”) despite the reservations of his seemingly overprotective manager/sister Miriam (Lee Grant – “Damien : Omen II”), moves to California with them both and marries Tony.

Paul Burke & Barbara Parkins
Paul Burke & Barbara Parkins

Anne is in an on/off relationship with Lyon who seems unwilling to commit, especially to marriage. She is also is spotted whilst at work and lands a job as a model for a cosmetics company, appearing in numerous print and TV advertisements.

Barbara Parkins, Sharon Tate & Patty Duke
Barbara Parkins, Sharon Tate & Patty Duke

The film then charts the lives of Anne, Neely and Jennifer over the course of a number of years as they struggle to find themselves whilst they pursue their dreams, and depicts all that their individual successes bring to them and those close to them – good and bad (including the “dolls” of the movie’s title, which was a slang term for barbiturates). What this does is to show that their lives don’t always follow the path that they’re aiming for, with consequences for the choices made along the way.

Patty Duke
Patty Duke

The clothes, hair styles and surroundings change as some level of success is achieved too. Often described as a trashy film, there is nonetheless substance here and a lot of the acting from the three female leads is really very good – though Duke is a little over the top at times.

So, not what I would call a brilliant film but a cult classic for sure and despite the two-hour duration I’d say it’s definitely worth watching…

valley-of-the-dolls-movie-poster-1967-1020195649

When You’ve Got It Made…

After finishing filming on “The Fearless Vampire Killers” actress Sharon Tate returned to the US to start work on her third movie, the sex farce “Don’t Make Waves” which was directed by  Alexander Mackendrick (“The Ladykillers”, “The Man In The White Suit”).

lf

Ira Wallach - Muscle Beach
Ira Wallach – Muscle Beach

The film was based on a Ira Wallach novel from 1959, which was titled “Muscle Beach”. Although the third film that Tate had filmed it was actually released before either “Eye Of The Devil” or “The Fearless Vampire Killers” leading to the opening credits having the words “introducing Sharon Tate” included.

Carlo Cofield (Tony Curtis – “Some Like It Hot”, “Sweet Smell Of Success”) has a bad start to the story. He’s arrived in California from New York with no job, no home and no money aiming for a fresh start. Stopping at the top of a winding hill on a coastal road for his lunch we watches a woman struggling with her artist’s easel and throwing her painting into the sea. When she leaves in her car she manages to accidentally catch Carlo’s car bumper with hers.

Tony Curtis
Tony Curtis

Before you know it Carlo’s car has plunged to the bottom of the hill, causing a collision between the woman’s car and a bus, and he watches as his car – and all his possessions – goes up in flames.

Claudia Cardinale
Claudia Cardinale

Feeling responsible, the woman – Italian Laura Califatti (Claudia Cardinale – “The Professionals”, “Once Upon A Time In The West”) – takes Carlo back to her apartment to exchange insurance details. Unable to find her documents she cooks for Caro and offers him the pull-out bed for the night.

The arrival of Laura’s boyfriend, married Rod Prescott (Robert Webber – “The Dirty Dozen”, “Private Benjamin”), in the middle of the night results in Carlo spending the rest of the night on the beach and waking to a beach full of bodybuilders, surfers and bikini babes.

Sharon Tate & Tony Curtis
Sharon Tate & Tony Curtis

Following an accidental collision with a surfboard Carlo is knocked out and comes round to a kiss of life from a toned and bronzed skydiver Malibu (Sharon Tate) before Laura arrives to take him back to her apartment to try to sort out the insurance – only to find that Rod, the president of a swimming pool company, just wants to get rid of him without claiming on his company car insurance policy.

Arriving at Rod’s office just as his wife, Diane Prescott (Joanna Barnes – “The Parent Trap”, “Spartacus”), also arrives Carlo is able to blackmail Rod into giving him a job with his company as a salesman.

David Draper & Sharon Tate
David Draper & Sharon Tate

Carlo arrives back at the beach in time to see Malibu performing an acrobatic routine on a trampoline – largely in slow motion – and discover that she is dating one of the bodybuilders, Harry Hollard (David Draper – “Lord Love A Duck”).

What follows is a sometimes confusing series of events as Carlo is given a clifftop house and a Rolls-Royce car for unclear reasons and offered a management job at the swimming pool company by Mrs. Prescott (who turns out to own the business).

On top of that he tries to get Malibu to perform a skydive into a pool as promotion for the business and also separate her from her Harry and clumsily move in on her himself…

Claudia Cardinale
Claudia Cardinale

All of which leads to a final showdown between Carlo, Rod, Diane, Malibu and Laura trapped together in Carlo’s house during a torrential rain storm as the film abruptly turns into a mini disaster movie!

Tony Curtis & Sharon Tate
Tony Curtis & Sharon Tate

This isn’t one of Curtis’s best films, so I think that it’s fair to say that Tate steals the show, despite the obvious charms of Cardinale – the trampoline scene alone is almost worth the price of admission on its own!

Ultimately this is an odd film, with a somewhat abrupt conclusion, but still compelling viewing for some reason! Check it out…

Sharon Tate, Rod Prescott, Claudia Cardinale, Tony Curtis, Joanna Barnes & David Draper
Sharon Tate, Rod Prescott, Claudia Cardinale, Tony Curtis, Joanna Barnes & David Draper

Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are In My Neck

The second film that Sharon Tate filmed was the comedy horror movie “The Fearless Vampire Killers”, directed by Tate’s future husband Roman Polanski (“Rosemary’s Baby”, “Repulsion”).

fearless_vampire_killers_xlg

Roman Polanski & Jack MacGowran
Roman Polanski & Jack MacGowran

Set in 19th century Transylvania, the film opens with the elderly Professor Abronsius (Jack MacGowran – “The Exorcist”, “Doctor Zhivago”) and his shy and bumbling apprentice Alfred (played by Polanski) travelling through a snowy landscape to a small town on a search for vampires.

Alfie Bass
Alfie Bass

Arriving at a tavern run by Shagal (Alfie Bass – “Up The Junction”, “The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins”) Abronsius notices lots of cloves of garlic strung around, whilst he is being thawed out, and the locals acting more than a little strangely.

Sharon Tate & Ferdy Mayne
Sharon Tate & Ferdy Mayne

Later Alfred meets Shagal’s daughter Sarah (Sharon Tate – “Eye Of The Devil”) and is instantly smitten. However he then witnesses her being taken by Count von Krolock (Ferdy Mayne – “When Eight Bells Toll”, “The Vampire Lovers”) leading Abronsius and Alfred to follow the trail to Krolock’s castle in the nearby hills…

Peter Sellers In The Pink Panther Strikes Again
Peter Sellers In The Pink Panther Strikes Again

Although billed as a horror comedy , and it is amusing, unfortunately the laughs are rather thin on the ground. As an aside, I do think that Professor Abronsius looks rather like the dentist with the melting face as portrayed by Peter Sellers in “The Pink Panther Strikes Again”!

Sharon Tate
Sharon Tate

Tate isn’t given a whole lot to do here, in truth, but makes the most of what she is required to do and looks suitably alluring for any lurking vampire bats that may be around.

The film is beautifully filmed, the costumes are great and the characters all hit the spot so it’s not a complete write off, but not essential viewing…

fearless_vampire_killers_ver4_xlg

Look At Her Long Enough And She May Be The Last Thing You’ll Ever See!

Forty six years ago today, on 8 August 1969, the actress Sharon Tate was brutally murdered at 10050 Cielo Drive, the rented home she shared with her film-maker husband Roman Polanski, by members of the Manson Family – followers of criminal guru Charles Manson.

Over the coming days I’m going to look at the films that Tate starred in before her untimely death, starting with “Eye Of The Devil”, her first starring role filmed in 1965 and released in the UK during the summer of 1966.

PHOTO_20629346_66470_9229404_ap1

Philip Loraine - Day Of The Arrow
Philip Loraine – Day Of The Arrow

Directed by J. Lee Thompson (“The Guns Of Navarone”, “Conquest Of The PLanet Of The Apes”) the movie was based on a novel by Philip Loraine titled “Day Of The Arrow”.

David Niven
David Niven

Philippe de Montfauçon (David Niven – “Murder By Death”, “The Pink Panther”) is a wealthy vineyard owner who becomes concerned when he learns that his crops have failed for the third consecutive year.

Deborah Kerr
Deborah Kerr

He heads off to the family estate at Montfauçon Castle in Belenac to rectify matters, but tells his wife Catherine (Deborah Kerr – “From Here To Eternity”, “The Sundowners”) that he does not want her or their children to go with him, something that Catherine is none too pleased about.

Donald Pleasence & David Niven
Donald Pleasence & David Niven

Arriving in Belnac, Philippe is greeted by the village priest, Father Dominic (Donald Pleasence – “The Eagle Had Landed”, “From Beyond The Grave”), who makes vague references to a duty which he says that he was sure Philippe would not refuse when the time came.

Sharon Tate & Robert Duncan
Sharon Tate & Robert Duncan

Still at their home, Catherine is disturbed when the couple’s young son Jacques (Robert Duncan – “Rasputin : The Mad Monk”) has a sleepwalking episode during which he talks of going to see his father, leading her to decide that she needs to take the children out to the estate.

David Hemmings
David Hemmings

When Catherine gets to the castle she is unsettled by a pair of mysterious siblings. Christian de Caray (David Hemmings – “Blow-Up”, “Barbarella”) who likes to wander around the castle grounds shooting birds with his bow and arrow and his sister Odile de Caray (Tate) who has a hypnotic effect on those around her.

eod-016[1]When Catherine sees the siblings sneaking into the castle with a dove that Christian had killed and follows them to witness some kind of pagan ritual taking place. Spying hooded figures in the woods has Catherine further spooked and fearful for the safety of her husband…

Tate apparently met with the High Priest and High Priestess of Alexandrian Wicca in the UK to prepare for her role.

Sharon Tate
Sharon Tate

Although she and Hemmings both have relatively minor roles in terms of speaking parts, their presence is essential to the feel of the film and Tate, in particular, is quite spellbinding – beautiful and also projecting an ethereal quality that, for me, really made the film much more effective that it might otherwise have been.

Also known as “13”, this is certainly an interesting film with clear parallels with “The Wicker Man”, especially in terms of how it treats paganism and pagan rites and the narrative about sacrifice with regard to failed crops, and the isolated and insular community involved. Whilst it isn’t in the same league as its more famous counterpart this particular film is still well worthy of watching.

eye_of_devil_poster_02