03 April, 2011

Franco’s 80s actors: RAQUEL EVANS and LYNN ENDERSSON

This entry may need a bit of contextualization. After the virtual abolition of censorship brought about by the Spanish constitution of 1978, but with hardcore still awaiting legalisation, Spanish cinema came to be increasingly dominated by softcore flicks exhibited under the government-imposed “S” certificate. Following the decline of popular genres that had previously been the staples of the industry, the softcore film acted as a reliable source of income and employment for professionals of the cinema until its demise in 1983, in which year the hardcore movie was legalized. In its last years, the “S” film had come to represent about a third of the national film output.

There were four basic production sources to be found in the Spanish “S” film, two of them being the respective film industries of Madrid and Barcelona, to which one should add a third category consisting of foreign films (French, German, Swiss, Greek…) with a minority Spanish participation, emanating from either of the two cities mentioned above. A fourth source may be found in the individual figure of Jess Franco, who, existing in a category of his own, was responsible for an approximate quarter of the Spanish “S” movies made in the 1978-83 period, not counting those films of his that were unreleased or unfinished.

Although Franco often worked at the time for Golden Films Internacional, whose quarters were located in Barcelona, his softcore output at the time might be placed, with some hesitation, within the Madrid tradition in terms of the talent employed on either side of the camera. In addition to several obscure actresses who appear to have worked only for him, Franco relied heavily on performers who may also be found in Madrid-made “S” fare directed by others: Rocío Freixas, Alicia Príncipe, Andrea Guzón, not to mention other Madrid-based actresses (Carmen Carrión, Mabel Escaño) whose beginnings go back to the “destape” (nudie) cycle that had served as a forerunner for the softcore film in the early to mid-seventies.

Meanwhile, the Barcelona pool of talent, of which Lina Romay cannot be said to have been a part despite her provenance, was largely left untouched by Franco but for two notable exceptions. Both Raquel Evans and Lynn Endersson, two familiar faces in skinflicks and girlie magazine pictorials, made respective isolated appearances in a Franco film. While neither of them was born in Barcelona (or indeed in Spain), they did live there and both, moreover, were members of the then-powerful Marta Flores casting agency, which represented much of the city’s acting talent, from prestigious figures such as Fernando Guillén to such softcore performers as Andrea Albani.

Character actress Marta Flores, agent of both Raquel Evans and Lynn Endersson.

Raquel Evans

Raquel Evans, whose real name is Arlene Guevara Gatica, was born in Santiago de Chile in 1956 and arrived in Spain in 1973 in the company of her brother, the filmmaker Enrique Guevara Gatica. At the time of her film debut in 1978, she had been working as a night club stripper in Lloret de Mar, Girona and in Barcelona. She is noted for appearing in the very first Spanish “S” movie, Una loca extravagancia sexy (1978), which was also the first of a series of films in similar vein produced by Enrique Guevara and nominally directed by him.

The willowy, angular Ms. Evans continued to appear in some twenty erotic films, several of them under the direction of veteran Ignacio F. Iquino, usually for Barcelona companies, but not to the exclusion of occasional Madrid efforts. By the time she landed a Jess Franco role in Linda / Orgía de ninfómanas (1981), she had already co-starred with Antonio Mayans in Iquino’s Emmanuelle y Carol (1978) and one presumes that it was Mayans, Franco’s regular production manager and lead actor, who suggested casting her as the film’s lead villainess. Since the making of Iquino’s film, Evans had undergone a nose job that made her features daintier and she now sported darker hair, as if in consonance with the part given her, much darker than one tends to associate with her. Her role in Linda, in fact, may represent something of an anomaly among the roles entrusted to Evans, who was usually required to project glamour and/or vulnerability.

Following the demise of the “S” film, and its replacement by hardcore, Evans gradually faded from the cinema. Now she reportedly works as a telephone operator.

Raquel Evans, prior to her nose job

Raquel Evans, between Bernard Seray and Antonio Mayans in Ignacio F. Iquino's Emmanuelle y Carol

Raquel Evans in Franco's Linda

Lynn Endersson

Lynn Endersson was in marked contrast with Raquel Evans in both appearance and personality. Whereas Evans was all grace and elegance, Endersson, who was already middle-aged at the height of her career, traded on a deliberate and exaggerated tawdriness that brought her screen persona within the realm of camp, abetted by her exaggerated performances in either comic or villainous roles. A typical Endersson role would find her wearing very high heels, gaudy clothing and heavy make-up, and she herself would supplement all this with mannered, expansive gestures and, whenever she did her own dubbing, a high-pitched, undulating delivery. Not unusually, she played roles named Lynn and in one film – the 1980 Un permiso para ligar, made by Enrique Guevara and Ricard Reguant – she actually played herself, and as an affected, highly-strung neurotic.

That a Catalan Frenchwoman, born Lina Nadal in Perpignan (on a date as yet undetermined), should have adopted a Swedish-sounding acting name adds to the campiness of her image and she herself was reportedly far from insensitive to humour. Trained as a painter, she started acting in films in what presumably were her thirties, under the direction of her partner, the Basque filmmaker Juan Xiol Marsal. She made her debut in Xiol’s Los farsantes del amor (1971), and subsequently contributed both the lead performance and the singing the title song (!) in El precio del aborto (1975), one of several anti-abortion exploitation films being produced in Spain at the time. After Sexy, amor y fantasia (1976), the last film made by the pair, Xiol died.
Working on her own, she effected the transition from “destape” to “S” cinema, usually working for Raquel Evans’s brother Enrique Guevara, but also for Manuel Esteba and the Madrid-based filmmakers Amando de Ossorio and Germán Lorente. In Las alumnas de Madame Olga (1981), José Ramón Larraz gave her a “straight” role (non-comic, non-campy, non-melodramatic) with good results. Amidst all this activity, she also got to appear in Porno girls (1977), a grey-market hardcore effort made on substandard gauge by Jordi Gigó and Ricard Reguant long before such fare was legalized in Spain. By the time she disappeared from the cinema in 1986, she had also played supporting roles in a couple of crime films, a Catalan comedy and an independent Majorcan feature. And, of course, one Jess Franco film – as in Raquel Evans’s case, this was in 1981.

If Jess Franco found a new facet in Raquel Evans in Orgía de ninfómanas, the same cannot be said of the use he made of Endersson in El sexo está loco (1981). Of the four main actors accorded various roles in that film (the others being Antonio Mayans, Lina Romay and Tony Skios), Endersson is given the least to do and is basically reduced to an onlooker (which she literally is in the nightclub scene involving Lina Romay and the two Argentineans). And this is one of her films in which she didn’t dub herself. With a more assertive role and her own voice, she might have come off as an apparent relative of the likewise plump, screechy-voiced, pop-eyed and histrionic Lina Romay.

Lynn Endersson in El sexo está loco

Evans and Endersson notwithstanding, Franco found no roles for any of those actresses from the Marta Flores agency: Carla Dey, Andrea Albani, Concha Valero, Berta Cabré, among several others. Too bad, as Berta Cabré might have come in useful in the event of Katja Bienert not being available.

Text by Nzoog Wahrlfhehen


scott said...

great post! I really enjoy reading these profiles on Franco's cast members.


Good post, sadly,Ricart Reguant said to me that Lynn died long time ago.