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24 March 2017

Macha Méril

In the early 1960s, French actress and writer Macha Méril (1940) was one of the actresses of the Nouvelle Vague. During her career, she appeared in 125 films by such famous directors as Jean-Luc Godard, Luis Bunuel, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and Dario Argento.

Macha Méril
French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 88. Photo: Lucienne Chevert.

Macha Méril
French playing card. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Macha Méril
French postcard by St. Anne, Marseille. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Russian Princess


Macha Méril (sometimes written as Méryl) was born Princess Maria-Magdalena Vladimirovna Gagarina in 1940 in Rabat, Morocco. By her father, she is descended from the Russian princely house Gagarin and by her mother from a Ukrainian noble family. Her parents were Mary Belsky and Prince Belsky Wladimir Gagarin who were cousins and were found in the south of France after fleeing the Bolshevik Russia, separately.

She attended Lycce Marie Curie de Sceaux school, then started a degree in literature at the Sorbonne while attending the Course Dullin theatre NPT (Theatre National Populaire). From 1959 on, Macha Méril appeared in more than 125 films. She began her film career with a role in La Main chaude (1959), the directing debut of Gérard Oury. I

In the 1960s she also worked as a model. Between 1960 and 1962, she attended the course of Lee Strasberg at the Actor's Studio as an observer while working as a model in for Harper's Bazaar in New York. After a few guest parts in American TV series, she returned to France.

Her first French films were often examples of the Nouvelle Vague, like Eric Rohmer’s Le signe du lion/Sign of the Lion (1962). She also appeared in the double film La vie conjugale/Anatomy of a Marriage (André Cayatte, 1963), the story of a couple from the very first meeting to break up, told in one film from the perspective of the woman (Marie-José Nat) and in the other from the man (Jacques Charrier).

In Jean-Luc Godard’s Une femme mariée/A Married Woman (1964) she plays a bored housewife who has an affair. Godard records 24 hours in the life of Charlotte (Meril), the eponymous married woman, a morning and the morning after with her lover, actor Robert (Bernard Rose), the evening spent with Pierre, her pilot husband (Philippe Leroy).

Another highlight was the classic Belle de jour (Luis Bunuel, 1967), featuring Catherine Deneuve. She then formed her own production company called Machafilm which co-produced the romantic drama Au pan coupé/Wall Engravings (Guy Gilles, 1968), Pier Paolo Pasolini's Porcile (1969) and Robert Bresson’s Quatre nuits d'un rêveur/Four Nights a Dreamer (1971).

Macha Méril
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin.

Macha Méril
Collection: Bunched Undies.

Macha Méril
Romanian postcard by Casa Filmului Acin, no. 180.

Italian Horror Thrillers


In 1969, Macha Méril married Italian filmmaker and producer Gian Vittorio Baldi, and the couple settled in Rome. She kept appearing in interesting films, such as in the French film Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble/Break-Up (Maurice Pialat, 1972) with Marlène Jobert and Jean Yanne.

She also often performed on TV. But Macha Méril is perhaps best known for her roles in the Giallos (Italian horror thrillers) Profondo rosso/Deep Red (Dario Argento, 1975) starring David Hemmings, and L'ultimo treno della notte/Night Train Murders (Aldo Lado, 1975), in which she played a demented nymphomaniac.

With her friend Anna Karina, she appeared in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Chinesisches Roulette/Chinese Roulette (1976). Back in France she appeared in the excellent thriller Mortelle randonnée (Claude Miller, 1983) starring Michel Serrault and Isabelle Adjani.

One of her best films is Agnes Varda’s dark but mesmerizing drama Sans toit ni loi/Vagabond (1985) with Sandrine Bonnaire as a free-spirited drifter on the road in southern France. Her later films include the drama Duet for One (Andrey Konchalovskiy, 1986) with Julie Andrews, the Italian drama Una storia semplice/A Simple Story (Emidio Greco 1991) starring Gian Maria Volonté, and the satire Meeting Venus (Istvan Szabo, 1991) with Meryl Streep.

Macha Méril has also written a series of cookbooks and four novels. She is politically active and has supported the presidential campaigns of Lionel Jospin in 2002, Ségolène Royal in 2007 and François Hollande in 2012. Between 1969 and 1978, she was married to Italian director and producer Gian Vittorio Baldi.

Since 2014, she is married to composer Michel Legrand. She has been given the Officier des Arts et des Lettres, Chevalier de l'Ordre du Merite, Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur and Chevalier du Mérite Agricole. Her latest film is Un profil pour deux (Stéphane Robelin, 2017) with Pierre Richard.


Trailer Une femme mariée/A Married Woman (1964). Source: precija (YouTube).


Trailer Profondo rosso/Deep Red (1975). Source: Blade in the Dark (YouTube).


Trailer L'ultimo treno della notte/Night Train Murders (1975). Source: BlueUndergroundinc (YouTube).

Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

23 March 2017

La grande passione (1922)

The silent Italian drama La grande passione (1922) was a star vehicle for diva Italia Almirante Manzini. The film was directed by her cousin Mario Almirante. He also wrote the script, based on a novel by writer-reporter Alessandro Varaldo. Cinematography was by Ubaldo Arata, and the sets were designed by Mario Gheduzzi. The film was produced by Produzione Fert (Rome-Turin). In 2001 a restored print of the Filmoteca de la UNAM (Mexico) was presented at Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna.

Italia Almirante in La grande passione
Italian postcard, no. 15. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922), starring Italia Almirante Manzini and here with Carlo Benetti. Caption: If you decide to accept we could take the 19:00 train. Think about this when you have calmed down.

Italia Almirante in La grande passione
Italian postcard, no. 16. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922). Caption: After the duel in American style.

Italia Almirante in La grande passione
Italian postcard, no. 17. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922), starring Italia Almirante Manzini and Carlo Benetti. Caption: Oh? Dignity?... Which one?

Italia Almirante in La grande passione
Italian postcard, no. 18. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922). Caption: My dear, I understand you and I love you.

Italia Almirante in La grande passione
Italian postcard, no. 19. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922). Caption: Patrizio Algesio and Gaspare Lucidi.

Not love but serenity


La grande passione (1922) tells the story of Maria (Italia Almirante Manzini), an orphan, who lives with her uncle (Vittorio Pieri). Her beauty raises the jealousy of her female cousins, who persecute her.

Maria is almost obliged to accept a marriage offer by a rich widower, Carli (Joaquin Carrasco). It is not love but serenity. Love appears as another man, Marcello (Carlo Benetti), cousin of Carli, starts to court Maria. A friend, Patrizio (André Habay), warns her in vain.

After being left by Marcello, Maria accepts the sincere and disinterested love of Patrizio. When Marcello returns and wants Maria back, a duel with Patrizio follows in which Marcello is killed. In the meantime Carli has been ruined by Marcello. It is then that Maria understands her plight to stay close to her husband, sacrificing her great love for Patrizio, while returning to Carli.

When La grande passione was released in Italy in early 1923 it was praised by the Italian trade press. Both La vita cinematografica and La rivista cinematografica lauded both Mario Almirante's direction and Italia Almirante's dramatic performance.

Italia Almirante in La grande passione
Italian postcard, no. 20. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922), starring Italia Almirante Manzini and André Habay. Caption: You are still decided to never leave me.

Italia Almirante in La grande passione
Italian postcard, no. 21. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922), starring Italia Almirante Manzini and André Habay. Caption: Caption: The past.

Italia Almirante in La grande passione
Italian postcard, no. 22. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922), starring Italia Almirante Manzini. Caption: Separation.

Italia Almirante in La grande passione
Italian postcard, no. 23. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922), starring Italia Almirante Manzini and André Habay. Caption: It's about to leave!

Italia Almirante in La grande passione
Italian postcard, no. 23. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922), starring Italia Almirante Manzini and André Habay. Caption: Joint life in their retreat.

Italia Almirante in La grande passione
Italian postcard, no. 24. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922), starring Italia Almirante Manzini and André Habay. Caption: A trip on Lake Como.

Italia Almirante in La grande passione (1922)
Italian postcard, no. 26. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922), starring Italia Almirante Manzini.

Italia Almirante in La grande passione (1922)
Italian postcard, no. 27. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922). Caption: The presentation of Ottavio. The name is puzzling as there is no character of that name in the film. Probably meant is Marcello. So Maria's husband Carli (Joaquin Carrasco) presents his nephew Marcello (Carlo Benetti) to Maria (Italia Almirante).

Italia Almirante in La grande passione
Italian postcard, no. 28. Photo: Società cinematografica FERT. Publicity still for La grande passione (Mario Almirante, 1922), starring Italia Almirante Manzini and André Habay. Caption: You want to to flee with me... forever?

Sources: Sempre in penombra (Italian), Wikipedia (Italian), and IMDb.

22 March 2017

Vintage cigarette cards

Last year, EFSP had two posts about cigarette cards made by Ross Verlag in Berlin before the war: Bunte Filmbilder (Our Colourful Film Pictures) and Bunte Filmbilder (Colourful Film Pictures). The cards were enclosed in the packs of Josetti's various brands of cigarettes. Today EFSP presents German cigarette cards, made by an unnamed publisher after the war, and British cigarette cards with pin-ups from the 1930s.

Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe. German cigarette card, no. 30. Photo: 20th Century Fox.

Scilla Gabel
Scilla Gabel. German cigarette card. Photo: Jiano.

Jackie Lane
Jackie Lane. German cigarette card.

Giovanna Ralli
Giovanna Ralli. German cigarette card.

Federico Fellini
Federico Fellini. German cigarette card.

Italian film director and screenwriter Federico Fellini (1920-1993) was one of the most influential filmmakers of all time. He was known for his distinct style that blends fantasy and baroque images with earthiness. In a career spanning almost fifty years, Fellini won the Palme d'Or for La Dolce Vita, was nominated for twelve Academy Awards, and directed four motion pictures that won Oscars in the category of Best Foreign Language Film.

Dorian Gray
Dorian Gray. German cigarette card. Photo: Frontini.

Belinda Lee
Belinda Lee. German cigarette card. Photo: Treuhaft.

Joan Blondell
Joan Blondell. British cigarette card by State Express and Ardath Cigarettes, Series two, number 9. Photo: First National.

American actress Joan Blondell (1906–1979) performed in more than 100 movies and on television for five decades, often as the wisecracking blonde.

Diane Boyd
Diane Boyd. British cigarette card in the Seventh series of Modern Beauties, no. 16. Caption: 16 year old lady of chorus at the Prince of Wales's Theatre, London. This is one of a series of 36 real photographs now being packed with these cigarettes.

Hazel Lombard
Hazel Lombard. British cigarette card in the Third series of Beauties of To-Day by Godfrey Phillips Ltd, no. 5.

Pamela Mervyn
Pamela Mervyn. British cigarette card in the Seventh series of Modern Beauties, no. 6. Caption: Pamela Mervyn of the Windmill Theatre, London.

Valerie
Valerie. British cigarette card in the Seventh series of Modern Beauties, no. 8.