EL FRANCONOMICON / I'M IN A JESS FRANCO STATE OF MIND

Robert Monell & Alex Mendíbil Blog Alliance

Cocktail Special (1978)/Smoking cigarettes with Jess Franco….

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Smoking cigarettes is an iconic activity in the cinema of Jess Franco, from the inspector lighting up during an investigation in his second feature, the 1960 LABIOS ROJOS, his marvelous monochrome Red Lips template [Picture #6]. Jess Franco himself was a prolific, notorious consumer of cigarettes from a very young age until his finals days. He enjoyed his addiction and it was part of his creative make-up.

In LOS BLUES DE LA CALLE POP (aventuras de Felipe Malboro, volumen 8), his wondrous 1983 Neo-noir/live action comic strip extravaganza, we meet cigarette man Sam Chesterfield, a wise guy piano player played by Jess Franco himself.  The villain is named Saul Winston! Characters named for popular cigarette brands all together in a marvelous, sleazy world called Shit City, in a film which plays like a candy colored music video and anticipates the Robert Rodriguez SIN CITY in both style and mood.

I recently revisited Franco’s last film for producer Robert De Nesle (Picture #3) the 1978 hardcore COCKTAIL SPECIAL (Dutch title card, Picture 4). It’s a micro-budgeted version of Sade’s PHILOSOPHY IN THE BEDROOM, earlier filmed  by Franco in 1969 as EUGENIE, THE STORY OF HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION. It opens with images of women reading (The ultimate sin in a man’s world; Picture # 3) and continues with long sequences of Eugenie (Touxa Beni) and her friends lounging around a Portuguese villa, making love, drinking the disgusting title concoction [urine, sperm, whiskey] and… you guessed it, smoking cigarettes (Picture #1).  Robert De Nesle is credited with the script (as Robert Hugue). The film ends with Eugenie unknowingly having sex with her own father (Picture #5) during a masked ball.  Producer/director/writer Jacques Garcia (Aicrag) was also involved. But it’s still 100% Jess Franco.

Cigarettes also played a role in another 1978 Jess Franco film, OPALO DE FUEGO (TWO FEMALE SPIES WITH FLOWERED PANTIES) in which Lina Romay, who plays a stripper, has to undergo torture involving getting sensitive areas burned with cigarettes. Smoking is Cool in Jess Franco’s alternate universe, as cool as Humphrey Bogart smoking his way through a series of 1940s Film Noirs. The Howard Hawks version of THE BIG SLEEP opens with images of cigarettes in an ashtray. Yesterday was the 5th anniversary of the passing of Jess Franco and I’d like to think he is somewhere sitting back and relaxing with a Chesterfield, a Winston or a Marlboro in his hand.Image may contain: text

(C) Robert Monell, 2018

Written by Robert Monell

21 febrero 2018 a 5:23 AM

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