25 June, 2022

(C) Robert Monell, 2020

Cocktail Special (1978)/Smoking cigarettes with Jess Franco….

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Photo credits:


2/ Producer Robert De Nesle


5/LABIOS ROJOS (Jesus Franco, 1960)

Smoking cigarettes is an iconic activity in the cinema of Jess Franco, from the inspector lighting up during an investigation in his second feature, the 1960 LABIOS ROJOS, his marvelous monochrome Red Lips template [Picture #6]. Jess Franco himself was a prolific, notorious consumer of cigarettes from a very young age until his finals days. He enjoyed his addiction and it was part of his creative make-up.

In LOS BLUES DE LA CALLE POP (Aventuras de Felipe Marlboro, volumen 8), his wondrous 1983 Neo-noir/live action comic strip extravaganza, we meet cigarette man Sam Chesterfield, a wise-guy piano player played by Jess Franco himself.  He is an informer for the film's anti-hero, unlucky PI Felipe Marlboro (Antonio Mayans).The villain of the film is named Saul Winston! Characters named for popular cigarette brands all together in a marvelous, sleazy world called Shit City, in a film which plays like a candy colored music video and anticipates the Robert Rodriguez SIN CITY in both style and mood.

Franco himself was a lifelong smoker from his teenage years into his 80s. He smoked furiously while he directed onset, while offset and when acting before cameras. He appeared to enjoy every single puff he took. One of my favorite scenes of his onscreen smoking is when the torture expert he plays in THE MIDNIGHT PARTY (1975) stops directing the torture of Lina Romay to fire one up. 

I recently revisited Franco’s last film for producer Robert De Nesle (Picture #3) the 1978 hardcore COCKTAIL SPECIAL. It’s a micro-budgeted version of Sade’s PHILOSOPHY IN THE BEDROOM, earlier filmed  by Franco in 1969 as EUGENIE, THE STORY OF HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION and more freely adapted in Franco's 1973, PLAISIR A TROIS.. It opens with images of women reading (The ultimate sin in a man’s world; Picture # 3) and continues with long sequences of Eugenie (Touxa Beni) and her friends lounging around a Portuguese villa, making love, drinking the disgusting title concoction [urine, sperm, whiskey] and… you guessed it, smoking cigarettes (Picture #1).  Robert De Nesle is credited with the script (as Robert Hugue). The film ends with Eugenie unknowingly having sex with her own father (Picture #5) during a masked ball. 

 Producer/director/writer Jacques Garcia (Aicrag) was also involved. But it’s still 100% Jess Franco.

Cigarettes also played a role in another 1978 Jess Franco film, OPALO DE FUEGO (TWO FEMALE SPIES WITH FLOWERED PANTIES) in which Lina Romay, who plays a stripper, has to undergo torture involving getting sensitive areas burned with cigarettes. Smoking is Cool in Jess Franco’s alternate universe, as cool as Humphrey Bogart smoking his way through a series of 1940s Film Noirs. The Howard Hawks version of THE BIG SLEEP opens with images of cigarettes in an ashtray. Photo #5 features of police inspector from Franco's 1960 noir, LABIOS ROJOS, lighting up another cigarette.

A few comments: Lina Romay, supposedly as "Martine", is not in the 71 minute version I saw of this film, which is from the Swedish Video, WET LIPS.  It was first released in France July 5, 1978. It was filmed in Portugal at some of the exterior locations use in Je Brule De Partout, also 1978. Touxa Beni is the prefect Sade heroine, delighted with herself as she is corrupted.

Robert De Nesle, Born: August 1, 1906. Died: April 21, 1978 (age 71) , died before the theatrical debut of this film. De Nesle was owner of the Production company CFPC (Comptoir Français de Productions Cinématographiques) [fr]. He produced/co-produced such peplums as HEROD THE GREAT, THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES, THE CONQUEST OF MYCENE, before moving into financing Eurowesterns (Mario Bava's THE ROAD TO FT. ALAMO), Eursopy films (the Agent Coplan series) and ordered porno versions of such Jess Franco films as LORNA, THE EXORICST, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR and THE PERVERSE COUNTESS. 

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