Sunday, February 07, 2010

More Bollywood Picts and Euro Spy Shenanigans

Here is a factoid I was unaware of till last night. I began reading some of the short stories of The Saint written by Leslie Charteris back in the early 1930's. So I looked him up on Wiki and found out his real name was Leslie Charles Bowyer-yin, born in Singapore to a Chinese father and English mother. He later moved to the US but get this:

"However, Charteris was excluded from permanent residency in the United States because of the Chinese Exclusion Act, a law which prohibited immigration for persons of "50% or greater" Oriental blood. As a result, Charteris was forced to continually renew his six-month temporary visitor's visa. Eventually, an act of Congress personally granted him and his daughter the right of permanent residence in the United States, with eligibility for naturalization which he later completed."

Not one of our proudest moments in history.


Here is the song for today. It is not exactly a classic and it's from a film that you probably want to keep your distance from - a 1985 Bollywood version of Tarzan - called in fact Tarzan! During this song Jane (actually Ruby) does everything in her bag of womanly tricks to let Tarzan know she is available to swing on his manly vine but he is oblivious to all her come-ons.

The pictorial line-up for today begins with the lolitaish Jiah Khan. She came to prominance as a discovery of director/producer Ram Gopal Varma, who does all those great crime films - kind of the Johnny To of India - but not quite as consistent. For many years Varma's muse was the wonderful Urmila and he starred her in many films - but at some pont they went their own ways and since then Varma has "discovered" a number of young starlets wanting to get into show business and he gladly showcases them, tries to be a Svengali character to them and then drops them and moves on to his next "discovery"- with all the gossip rags making it clear that the girls paid for their brief moment of fame with as much effort off stage as on. Jiah was one of those.

and just for the heck of it  - Urmila who has gone on to do the finest acting of her career post-Varma.

An Urmila vs Jiah dance off.

Bollywood is legendary for having the children follow in the footsteps of their acting parents. It is almost expected of them - I think they already have a script ready for the not yet conceived children of Aishwarya and Abhishek Bachchan  - and when their debut finally makes it to the screen the hype is totally nutty. One of these children of the Stars was Esha Deol - daughter of two legends - Hema Malini and Dharmendra. The expectations were gigantic and there was no way she could match them and most of her early films bombed. As time has gone by though I came to like her as her acting improved and she began looking better as the dream machine took over. Many actors in Bollywood are basically just thrown in to headlining films with zero acting experience or training due to family connections or looks - and they either sink or swim. She is still treading water.

Another child of a big star who is just about to make her bow is Sonakshi Sinha, the daughter of Shatrughan Sinha. Fortunately for her, she must take after her mother.

Her father:

As you no doubt know, India has a number of different film industries, the biggest and best known coming out of Mumbai formerly Bombay and so Bollywood. Down south there are other industries with their own actors, directors and language - and whenever an actor who has started down south comes to Bollywood to make their debut it is a big deal and the magazines are full of articles on whether they will make it - often with an underlying subtext that Bombay is where the big boys play. But many famous actresses took this path - Waheeda Rehman, Jaya Prada and Sridevi to name the ones I know. The latest is Asin, who was chosen by Amir Khan to star with him in Ghajini. It was a big success as his films tend to be and she is now on her way.

I watched a few more Euro Spy films yesterday, both from 1965. Agent 077 of the CIA. There were a series of three of these films starring Ken Clark, who interestingly is an American who appeared in Hollywood films like South Pacific and Attack of the Giant Leeches, but when he could not make it big he moved to Europe where he became a star of action films in the 1960's. This migration to Europe happened with a number of American actors - either former stars past their prime or young actors unable to hit it big in the USA. The most famous was of course Clint Eastwood who became such a big name after his Spaghetti Westerns that he was able to return to Hollywood and become what he is today.

Most of them though are like Clark who you never hear of again really if you are from here. These two films would be really terrific except for two big drawbacks - the dialogue is insufferable and Clark's character is constantly hitting on women in this really glib, I am too cool, manner that it is really off putting. That may have played well back in the 60's but now it seems so tiresome. The plots are ok - one of them a clear ripoff of Thunderball - but what makes them enjoyable is the action which for 1960 white man stuff is quite good and the location shooting is terrific as 077 whizzes around from Paris to Madrid to Athens to Istanbul - all cities I love. There is a great rooftop chase that takes place in Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the background. And there is of course lots of the prerequisite eye-candy on hand in the form of lovely European actresses.

In From the Orient with a Fury a.k.a. Fury on the Bosphorus, Malloy (077) has to track down a scientist who has invented a ray gun that makes everything disappear. Girls pop up all along the way and in the end the cavalry in the form of the co-operative Turkish police save the day. In Mission Bloody Mary, a nuclear bomb is stolen and is being sold to the Chinese. Again many girls pop up along the way! Fun enough that I ordered the third in the series, Mission Lady Chaplin.

I am not sure if Deadlier than the Male (1966) would count as Euro Spy though it came out of England - written by Jimmy Sangster of Hammer fame - as it clearly has a Hollywood sheen to it and excellent production values. It is tough getting old - you forget things - like that I had already seen this film - which I realized as soon as Elke Sommer and Sylva Koscina come out of the ocean in bikinis and shoot some fellow with a spear gun. They are assassins - part of a female union of assassins - but all reporting of course to a male, who remains in the shadows for much of the film. Richard Johnson who hits just the right notes in this, investigates. Colorful and fun.

Since I know of at least one person from Istanbul who reads this Blog, here are a few captures of Istanbul. In one you may notice the two posters in the background - always curious I Googled them - Safiye Filiz was a Turkish actress and Zennube seems to have either been a 1965 Turkish film or a song.

And just because this is my Blog - here are two photos I took in Istanbul some ten years ago. It is an amazing city to wander around in. Highly recommended as a place you get to some day.

and two from my father circa 1966


Glenn, kenixfan said...

I almost mentioned Deadlier Than The Male to you the other day but it didn't seem to fit with the other Euro spy-type flicks you were covering.

It's awesome! I got the UK R2 DVD which has the follow-up in the set, Some Girls Do, which isn't nearly as good but Sydne Rome is SUPER CUTE in it.

I have to capitalize that as she's almost annoyingly perky in that thing -- her character is named Flicky or something -- just a blast.

Speaking of spies: I'm working on another review, this time spy-flick related, which will link back to a few posts from your other site.

Brian said...

Darn, I see that double on Amazon now but don't think I want to buy it for $31 since I already have one of them. Have never heard of Sydne Rome but I see it has a favorite of mine - Daliah Lavi. From what I can gather there were a load of these Euro Spy films made - there is even a book on the subject that I am tempted to buy but a lot of this stuff is only available on the gray market.

Glenn, kenixfan said...

Daliah Lavi was in one of the Matt Helm films, right?

I vaguely was aware of Sydne Rome from some Italian crime thing -- The Babysitter -- that I saw on cable a long time ago.

She's just amazing -- and frequently nude -- in Polanski's What? which was just released on a nice new R2 DVD last year.

Brian said...

Ya she was in The Silencers - pretty awful film really but I have a weakness for dimwitted spy films and just ordered the other 3 in the series. But now that I look at her filmography I am not sure why I like her so much - the only other films I can recall seeing her in was The Body and the Whip and I guess in Ten Little Indians though I can't recall that film too well. But for some reason I find her very sexy.