12 October, 2006


Every so often we'll digress from the topic of Jess Franco to consider other cinematic wonderments, like Dahlia Lavi, who was born 66 years ago today in Palestine. A sultry, mysterious, spectral beauty, whose singular presence suggests a repressed passion which when aroused will certainly spiral out of control. The imbd lists 32 film and TV roles, some in series, between 1955 and 1997. No features after 1969's SOME GIRLS DO.
Her long absence from feature films is perhaps indicative of changing market values and a loss to some of us. She has an indefinable appeal in terms of the ability to project eroticism and there's something of a Threat in her manner. A Class Act but impenetrable, with a mystique which maybe you don't want to behold for too long. I imagine she's well known in Europe for her TV roles over there and probably best remembered for TWO WEEKS IN ANOTHER TOWN, LORD JIM and as The Detainer in that irresistably bloated Eurospy spoof CASINO ROYALE (1968). Any hope that she'll have a cameo in the upcoming version?
Her indelible characterization of the murderously masochistic Nevenka in Mario Bava's 1963 THE WHIP AND THE BODY is the one that continues haunt us. An equisitely subtle performance and a definitive study of the progression from victim to perpetrator. She illustrates a masochism which is not the polar opposite of sadism but the shadow of it. Her Nevenka exists in a kind of trance state which erupts into an all-consuming, perverse rapture under the blows of the whip. It's a profoundly disturbing, somewhat terrifying performance with full fledged tragic resonance.  Probably because WHIP was an obscure, B budget Italian horror film she didn't win any awards or significant critical attention at the time. She did seem to find some success in the Hollywood and European mainstream as an actress and singer but she will always be remembered as Nevenka, first and foremost, as far as we're concerned. Wherever you are Dahlia Lavi, Happy Birthday!

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