Spy Game


A little in memoriam piece on Jesus Franco at The Forgotten today.

I confess to mixed feelings about Snr Franco. At times, I’ve thought him the worst director in the world. He certainly didn’t do what most directors commonly thought of as good do. But he did do things nobody else would. Who else would begin a movie with shots of fetuses in jars, accompanied by upbeat lounge music? And for no reason?

The movie under discussion today stars Eddie Constantine as secret agent Al Pereira, and by coincidence I just realized that Pereira returns as lead character in Franco’s last film, made just last year, AL PEREIRA VS THE ALLIGATOR LADIES. Like that awful Dr Orloff, Franco’s characters weren’t confined to one film, and his films cannibalized popular culture too: in VAMPYROS LESBOS, Dennis Price plays Dr Seward from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a role played by Paul Muller in Franco’s COUNT DRACULA, but then Price returns as Frankenstein in two later films, which feature Alberto Dalbes as a character named Dr. Seward.

Franco, in other words, was a postmodernist — his films have permeable boundaries, with characters, situations and even footage slip-sliding from one to another, and into and out of other films and media. NIGHT OF THE ASSASSINS claims, in its opening credits, to be based on “The Cat and the Canary by Edgar Allan Poe,” which is remarkable since that play was authored by John Willard, some time after Poe’s death. Franco may not have been personally responsible for that illiterate bit of hucksterism, but in a way it’s apt, suggesting the pop culture melting pot his films simmered in.

This all lends some accuracy to Tim Lucas’s statement that “you can’t see one Franco film until you’ve seen them all.”

In today’s offering, Constantine is shown an array of gadgets by his spymasters and remarks, “You must have seen a lot of James Bond movies.”

“More than you can imagine,” comes the reply.

5 Responses to “Spy Game”

  1. odd that a man named Jesus would have been considered so dangerous by the Vatican.

  2. 1) Not so odd when you see his films.
    2) In fact, Jesus Christ would be a positive menace to the Vatican!

  3. Is it wrong that I still get upset about the mess he made editing Orson Welles’ Don Quixote? Someone must have been able to do a better job. For me it overshadows the other achivements

  4. It is wrong, but he did make a mess of it. But on the other hand, he did it very cheaply.

    He didn’t even have access to all the footage, since one cameraman had fallen out with Oja and kept a bit. That clips showed up online and would be a great enhancement to any future edit.

    Was just chatting to Mark Cousins who astonished me, as he so often does, by saying he loved the Franco cut.

  5. 1) Jesús. 2) Franco.

    What better name, for whatever reasons, could a Spaniard have?

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