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Stoney (1969)

We continue are Barbara Bouchet Series with her first starring role in the troubled film Stoney.

Italy's Charlie Chaplin

Toto, matches wits against the Nazi's, the Italian media and falls for the lovely Sonia, who thinks of him like a father.

Barbara Bouchet: The Posters

Collection of original film posters from around the world for the film What A Way To Go!

Actress Spotlight #2 - Caroline Munro

Cult British actress Caroline Munro wearing a sexy low cut shear black blouse showing cleavage.

Born January 16, 1949 in England, like many other B-movie actresses Munro began her career in modeling.  At the age of 17 she obtained her first modeling job at Vogue Magazine, and would later move to London to pursue other higher echelon opportunities in modeling and television advertising.

For the full entry check it out at the new home for all our cult reviews

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Stoney (1969)

Barbara Bouchet looks seductive and shows some cleavage, from the film Stoney 1969
Barbara Bouchet as Irene Stone "Stoney".  Uses her "assets" to get some pull with the local authorities.

Stoney or (The Surabaya Conspiracy) marks Barbara Bouchet's first starring role.  She plays Irene Stone, a woman who travels to war torn Surabaya, Philippines with the hope of recovering a wealth of treasure hidden in a vault under the town Commissioner's swimming pool.  Made during the time period in American B-movie history where it was extremely popular to make films in the Philippines (because it was so cheap) Stoney suffers from a story so full of plot holes it might as well be called Swiss cheese.

Treasure map indicating vaults location inside a swimming pool from the film Stoney 1969
The great treasure map, showing the vault already pre-rigged with dynamite.
I've seen plenty of low budget films and watched my fair share of stinkers but Stoney certainly takes the cake as one of the worst.  There are so many continuity and plot issues it's impossible to keep track of what's going on, and when the writers attempt to provide any sort of explanation it only adds to the growing confusion.  How did this treasure end up under the Commissioner's swimming pool?  How come everyone seems to know about it except him?  While the film addresses how to access the treasure, Irene never seems to be to that intent on actually recovering it, while she sets up the transports for it under the guise of exporting tea it's never indicated whose actually going to retrieve it for her.  And why was there dynamite already setup under the pool inside the vault, it's even indicated on their "treasure map".

Barbara Bouchet in a revealing white gown, smoking a cigarette in the film Stoney 1969.
Blessing attempts to warn Stoney to leave the treasure alone.
Character relationships also make absolutely no sense in Stoney.  In the beginning of the film some form of relationship is insinuated between Irene and Harvey Ward (Michael Rennie), the supposed mastermind behind the plan to recover the treasure.  Ward's the one who tells her about it, and indicates the ring he gave her is the key to the vault.  He says it would be too suspicious if he went to recover it so she offers to go, but he says she's too important to him; the next scene she's on a plane to Surabaya!  Did I miss something?  Michael Preston plays an Aussie by the name of Steven Blessing who seems to be covertly working against Ward, who's a good friend of the Commissioner, but is also interested in stealing the treasure so how good of a friend is he?  Irene seems to be completely disgusted with Blessing most of the film, then all of a sudden out of the blue sleeps with him!  Never an indication why the change of heart.

Barbara Bouchet in a white tank top with an orange and blue head band, in the film Stoney 1969.
Stoney having a witty conversation about the Boogeyman with Blessing prior to attending a tour of the tea factory with the Commissioner, which occurs on the DVD before her supposedly meeting with him.
On-top of the story, the editing is so awful that half the scenes on the DVD release are not even in the right order!  I'm not certain whether this is how this version of the film was actually released in the USA and the studio producing the DVD didn't bother fixing it, or they simply messed up.  About 15 minutes into the film when Irene arrives to Surabaya she goes to introduce herself to the Commissioner and ask for his assistance in transporting tea (which is a cover).  Her meeting with the Commissioner and the 20 or so minutes that follows show up more than halfway into the film.  So when you're watching the DVD version the film seems to jump ahead for no apparent reason to Irene and the Commissioner visiting the tea plant and then 45 minutes into the film she's meeting the Commissioner for the first time.  I watched two versions of this film, the original version (on VHS), entitled The Surabaya Conspiracy, this issue isn't present. Ironically it didn't make the film any more intelligible, proving that when a script is so poorly written you can scramble all the scenes up and it really makes no difference!

Barbara Bouchet nude in the shower with a blue towel on her head in the film Stoney 1969
Barbara Bouchet obligatory shower scene.
Overall, there's no sugar coating how horrible Stoney is.  I've come to expect low budget, bad acting, and outlandish story-lines from B-movies, but when the story is non-cohesive it ruins any enjoyment that's to be had.  It's a shame because there definitely was potential here, and considering the film is based off a book it's baffling that the writers couldn't do a better job than this when the whole story was already laid out for them.  The one, and only silver lining in this film, and the reason I gave it the high of I did is Barbara Bouchet.  Stoney is definitely a Barbara Bouchet fans only film, the fact she has a starring role a is on screen a majority of the time is the only thing that makes sitting through this worth it, and I actually sit through it twice!  Still even though it is a complete mess it's better than watching any of the Shirley MacLaine movies she was in for a few seconds.


Bonus Bouchet:
Barbara Bouchet in an orange sun dress in the film Stoney 1969Barbara Bouchet in an orange sun dress in the film Stoney 1969
Barbara Bouchet in an orange sun dress in the film Stoney 1969Barbara Bouchet in an orange sun dress holding a cigarette in the film Stoney 1969

Barbara Bouchet in an orange sun dress in the film Stoney 1969Barbara Bouchet in an black dress holding a cigarette in the film Stoney 1969

 Barbara Bouchet sitting at a card table playing solitaire in the film Stoney 1969Barbara Bouchet from the film Stoney 1969
Overhead view of Barbara Bouchet just getting out of the shower, wrapped in a towel, cleavage showing from the film Stoney 1969.Barbara Bouchet towel wrapped around head, just out of the shower from the film Stoney 1969.
Barbara Bouchet naked in bed from the film Stoney 1969.Barbara Bouchet naked in the shower blue towel around head from the film Stoney 1969
Barbara Bouchet naked in the shower blue towel around head from the film Stoney 1969Barbara Bouchet wear sexy white dress looking in the mirror from the film Stoney 1969
Barbara Bouchet is sexy white dress from the film Stoney 1969Barbara Bouchet wearing white jacket and big hat in the film Stoney 1969
Barbara Bouchet taking off jacket revealing low cut dress and cleavage in the film Stoney 1969Barbara Bouchet taking off jacket revealing low cut dress and cleavage in the film Stoney 1969
Barbara Bouchet in low cut blouse with large hat and flirty look from the film Stoney 1969 Barbara Bouchet in white bikini swimming suit from the film Stoney 1969
Barbara Bouchet in white bikini swimming suit from the film Stoney 1969Barbara Bouchet sitting on bed in sexy white dress smoking a cigarette from the film Stoney 1969

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4 Fantastic Italian Film Posters - Vampire Themed Vol. 1

There are two things that go hand in hand with film; art & music.  Music compliments a film, gives life to the story, you could even make the case that without music film would be non-existent as the two have always been essentially paired together.  But art (and when I refer to art I'm speaking of poster/advertising art), has the tremendous responsibility of attempting to grab your attention and provoke a response that will in turn cause you to want to see that film.  Today the film trailer has pretty much usurped that role.  Posters are not so much an art-form but a cookie cutter Photoshop job used for internet advertising.  But 40-50 years ago when there was no internet, and film trailers were typically only shown in the theaters, film studios relied on posters as a main avenue of advertising.  Because of this real effort was put into making some extraordinary advertising, especially for the horrible films.  If you look back through the history of poster art some of the coolest posters were for some of the worst films, B-Movie's for example boast some of the best and collectible art around.  This proved how powerful the poster truly was.

For me some of the top poster art came out of Italy between the 1950's and 1970's.  No surprise that this also happens to coincide with one of the best eras of Italian film history as well.  It's hard to put into words how amazing Italian film art is during this time compared to other countries.  Italian artists not only excelled at creating masterpieces for their own countries films, but managed to exceed most posters for films that originated from other countries, especially the United States.  So it is the goal of this weekly series to introduce you to some of the great film art that originated out of Italy, for films from all over the world.  Ultimately you decide what you like, but it's hard not to be impressed.

This week we'll take a look at a handful of awesome vampire themed posters.  Over the last decade vampires have risen back into style, but it was the vampire posters of decades past that had the real style.

Italian film poster for Horror of Dracula, Christopher Lee carrying a beautiful woman, Peter Cushing driving a stake through a sleeping woman's chest.
1970's Re-release Horror of Dracula

This is a great example of Italian artists creating a stellar poster for a British film.  This is the poster for the 1970's re-release of Hammer Films, Horror of Dracula, the film that launched Hammer's horror legacy in the late 1950's.  This is a 2 Foglio (2F), which essentially means two sheet.  Another great feature of Italian posters, not only is the art stellar but their standard size posters are typically larger than any other country.  A 2F is 39 x 55"!

Italian Film Poster The Vampire's Night Orgy, three images of the beauty Helga Line feasting on the blood of men.
1974 The Vampires' Night Orgy

It may come as no surprise, but Italian artists during this era had an astounding ability to reproduce the human body, especially the female form, as well as to so accurately reproduce actor's faces that you'd almost believe it was a photograph.  This 2F is for the film The Vampires' Night Orgy, an Italian based horror film starring Helga Line.  This would be considered a B-movie by most standards, but absolutely killer poster art.  Who wouldn't want to see this film?

Italian Film Poster For Mario Bava's Lust Of The Vampire with stunning female vampire in the foreground and a spooky man grasping for her in the background.
1963 Lust of the Vampire

As an Italian film poster collector myself this is by far one of my favorite Italian posters in my collection.  Generally speaking original Italian film posters from this era are not available in as great a quantity as other countries posters, and this is definitely on the rarer side.  This is a 2F for Mario Bava's directorial debut for a feature film, entitled Lust of the Vampire.  Amazingly this is the first sound era horror film made in Italy, prior to this period they were banned from production.

Italian Film Poster for French Film The Nude Vampire By Jean Rollin
1970 The Nude Vampire

Once again here we have an Italian poster for another countries film.  This was for the Italian release of the French film The Nude Vampire by famous cult French film director Jean Rollin.  This is one of the few instances were the Italian poster slightly resembles the country of origin poster.  The French version looks almost the same, but the quality of the artwork on the Italian version is far superior, much cleaner.  The French version looks like it was drawn by an elementary school student.  This is an example of a 4F, which is essentially two 2F's that would be pieced together, making this poster 55 x 78".

Which of the four above is you're favorite Italian vampire poster?  Or if there is another one let us know and maybe we'll feature it in the next vampire entry.
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Siamo uomini o caporali - Are We Men or Corporals? (1955)

One of Italy's most famous actor's and Italian counterpart to America's Charlie Chaplin, Toto Esposito built his career in the era of physical comedy and repartee.  While the United States had it's share of physical comedic actors during the silent era and into the "talkies", Toto was one of the forerunners for Italy.  His debut in the 1937 film Hand's Off Me! as his self titled character Toto, was the start of a 100+ film career, most of which centered around the same self titled character.

The Nazi's experiment with Toto in the super solider machine!
In Are We Men or Corporals?, we follow the character of Toto as he recants his story living through WWII, and dealing with "corporals", those in higher position who constantly were using their power to abuse the common man.  Starting off as a "queue jumper" Toto takes his dreams of becoming an actor and uses his talents to quickly cheat the system and procure war ratios for the villagers.  But once caught he finds himself locked up in a German prison camp, here he continues to steal food, only this time it's from the German solider reserve, and for a lovely female prisoner Sonia.  After being caught, Toto manages to escape with Sonia after the Nazi's experiment of atomic energy tests on him backfire.  

Performance of La Cammesella (full video performance at end of review)
The two of them return to Rome and take up residence in a small shack up on the hill until Toto manages to procure them a job as a performing duo for the American troops.  They perform a classic Neapolitan act called La Cammesella, a comedy striptease routine. (La Cammesella was a song written back in the late 1800's, and has held it's popularity within Italy even today, possibly due to this film's classic scene.) The act is a hit but the two return to Rome after Sonia is continually sexually harassed by the creepy, habitually drunk, Captain Black.

Toto pleads his innocence to the police chief, yep dressed as a woman!
Back home Toto get's mixed up with a popular magazine who learns he lives near the scene of a major murder.  Although he did not witness anything, looking to publish a ground breaking story, the editor coaxes him into signing a bogus statement, they publish a story full of lies and turn Toto into the "man of the century".  It all seems innocent at first, Toto begins to eat up all the attention he begins receiving until he discovers the truth.  In an attempt to get out of the situation he's thrown in prison for providing a false statement.

What comedy would be complete without a scene with the star on a ledge in their underwear?
Not being too familiar with Italian comedies from this era I didn't know what to expect with Are We Men or Corporals?, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  I've never been much of a fan of the silent era comedy films, but the Toto films, while somewhat of a parallel to the Charlie Chaplin style of comedy, do a fine job of upgrading the comedic style to the era of dialogue and losing a little bit of the overly cheesy aspects.   

Debut film appearance of Sylva Koscina, who'd go on to be one of the largest cult actresses in European film.
This marks the first film appearance for Sylva Koscina, a drop dead gorgeous actress who would soon make herself well known in Italian cinema.  Here her role is nothing more than a brief walk-on performance with one line, but it's an ironic foreshadowing of things to come.  Her unnamed character is having her picture published by the magazine that is taking a statement from Toto.  She comments that she's never had her picture in the paper and hopes this leads to a role in a film.  As she exits the screen Toto exclaims, "this girl will make in big in the movies."  It's quite possible this was all coincided with Sylva's actual discovery.  As it happens Sylva was discovered because of a photograph that was published in all the Italian papers of her kissing a famous cyclist Rik Van Steenbergen during the Tour of Italy, and as history reflects Sylva went on to have major roles in over one hundred films, including two additional Toto films in which she had major starring roles.


Full Film:

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Actress Spotlight #1 - Magda Konopka

Magda Konopka Actress Foto

Magda Konopka, born 1943 in Warsaw, Mazowieckie, Poland.  Oddly enough there is very little information to be found about Magda.  With the exception of a handful of publicity photos and a few hearsay "facts" she's a relative enigma.  Granted even though she had an active film career from the late 1960's through the 1970's, compared to a lot of her peers her 33 roles could be seen as incredibly meager.  

For the full entry check it out at the new home for all our cult reviews
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