22 November, 2011

Franco's 80s actors: ANTONIO DE CABO

Although Antonio de Cabo started out with Franco in the early seventies, one tends to associate him with the director’s later output in Spain, which made better use of his easily recognizable appearance: tall and spindly, with a long, saurian face, bushy eyebrows and a heavy head of silver hair. His case is similar to that of Trino Trives – a man of the theatre who, although not fundamentally an actor, performed as such for Jess Franco and, would seem, few other directors (none at all in Trives’s case, at least from what information we have). The basic vocations of this well-educated man with a well-off family background were as a stage director, a set designer and a translator of plays. In the latter capacity, he was responsible for the translations used in the very first Spanish productions of Tennessee Williams, including Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which opened in Madrid in 1959, with Aurora Bautista (of Eugenio Martín’s A Candle for the Devil) as Maggie. De Cabo also translated The Rose Tattoo and Sweet Bird of Youth.

Some of De Cabo’s work for Franco, in Drácula contra Frankenstein (1972) and Eugenie (Historia de una perversión)(1980), was in keeping with his background, as a location scout and art director, although he did appear briefly in the earlier film. His first acting role for Franco, in X312 – Flight to Hell (1971) is curious. At first, we think that the presumably gay Spanish aristocrat who is among the plane passengers will be part of the main cast – then, however, he departs from the story and is never seen again. It could be that Franco, at the very last minute, shoved him into the film as an afterthought. In future, the filmmaker was to make more prominent use of De Cabo’s distinctive appearance: Other Franco roles for De Cabo at the time include a barely recognizable appearance in the docudrama Virgin Report (1972) and the notary in Virgin among the Living Dead.

Director and actor met again on a more regular basis during the crossover from the seventies to the eighties, when Franco started casting De Cabo in either co-starring or distinctive supporting parts, initially as Lina Romay’s randy father in Las chicas de Copacabana (1978); later, as the confessor in the footage of El sádico de Notre Dame (1979) that is not taken from the 1974 Exorcism; and memorably as the “drunken, decadent marquis” in Aberraciones sexuales de una mujer casada (1980).

Except for Franco’s movies, Antonio de Cabo’s filmography is minimal: he acted in two non-Franco films from, respectively, Brazil and Portugal, both of these being countries where De Cabo travelled as part of his theatre career - directing Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap in Brazil and Godspell in Portugal, where he resided for long. Both of them, in fact, are also countries where he was captured by Franco’s camera.And Portugal, in fact, is also the country where Antonio de Cabo died in the mid-1980s.

X312 – Flight to Hell

Virgin Report

Drácula contra Frankenstein (next to Eduarda Pimenta)

Virgin among the Living Dead

Las chicas de Copacabana

Devil Hunter (1979)

El sádico de Notre Dame

Aberraciones sexuales de una mujer casada

El lago de las vírgenes (1981)

A link to Antonio de Cabo’s imdb entry:

Text by Nzoog Wahrlfhehen (Special thanks to Ricard Reguant)


scott said...

always a unique presence in Franco films. Is he still alive?

Nzoog Wahrlfhehen said...

I've changed the text a bit. He died in the mid eighties.