ITALIAN GRINDHOUSE GRINDS CARROLL BAKER


So last night I took the lazy way out and didn’t go to LACMA and see Ivan the Terrible, Part I, but instead when to the American Cinematheque to see two Gaillo films, or Italian Grindhouse as they are now called for marketing purposes. They were two Carroll Baker films, the first Paranoia and the second A Quiet Place to Kill. Carroll Baker gave it her all, God bless her, but neither were that good. However, one doesn’t go see Gaillo films because they’re good. One goes because they are bad, very bad, often very, very bad.

The first one, Paranoia, about a wealthy widow seduced by a gigolo and his “sister” who then take over her life and imprison her has an interesting subtext–it’s an attack on Communism as these two sociopaths are not after Baker’s money, but just want to destroy another member of the upper class. At the end, it then attacks Communists by revealing that these two are hypocrites and did for money anyway.

Some observations on Gaillo films:

I still swear that they are not written based on an idea first, but that someone finds a location that would look great on film and then they create a story around it. I doubt that’s true, it just seems that way and no matter what else one might say about these films, they have the most incredible set and art design.

The women are often naked and show their breasts, but the men always manage to just conveniently have their privates covered.

There’s also something culturally interesting about these films. They were made in the 1960’s and ’70’s when what was allowed to be shown on screen, what sort of themes were allowed to be explored, were changing and there’s something ingratiating about the directors and writers attempts at broaching new ground sexually. Of course, in the end, Gaillo films were only interested in exploiting these ideas, not really exploring them, but they really do feel like they’re a record of their period.

The dubbing is still annoying, though less so for Carroll Baker who did her own.

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