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Friday, April 6, 2012

50'S FOCUS : DECAMERON NIGHTS 1953

EROS FILM
Presents

An RKO Pictures Release.

DECAMERON NIGHTS

starring

          JOAN FONTAINE    LOUIS JOURDAN   JOAN COLLINS   BINNIE BARNES
    GODFREY TEARLE  ELLIOT MAKEHAM  NOEL PURCELL  MARJORIE RHODES 

  Director of Photography - Guy Green B.S.C   Music by Anthony Hopkins  Assoc Prod - Montagu Marks
    Produced by M.J.Frankovich & William Szekely       Directed by Hugo Fregonese

  (c)   1953     RKO     94 MINS   TECHNICOLOR

Released in 1953, this was Joan's first American produced film, shot on location in Madrid and Segovia, the film took two years to plan and research. The publicity department cited the film as having a cast of 2,200, while the Spanish government loaned the production an exact replica of the vessel, the "Santa Maria", which Christopher Columbus discovered America in. The films co-star Binnie Barnes, as well as been married to the producer Mike Frankovich, also served as assistant producer on the film. In fifties Spain, items like make-up, eyelashes, lipstick brushes and hair glue for wigs, were very scarce. Binnie made several round trips from various Spanish locations to London, to pick up such items! Joan recalled that the director Hugo Fregonese was a cold man and had no great feeling for his cast. Fregonese's wife, the fifties star Faith Domerque acted as one of nine interpretors on the internationally cast film. The hotel that the cast lived in during the shoot, according to Joan, resembled a doss house and she recalled that Segovia was filthy. Joan later referred to her role as " A mischievous minx, of a lady in waiting!"
Gossip at the time claimed that Joan was almost arrested for wearing tight jeans on the street in Spain! How times have changed!! Incidently Joan Fontaine later starred with Joan  in "Island in the Sun", while co-star Godfrey Tearle played Mr Dove in Joan's previous film " I Believe in You".
"Decameron Nights" probably seemed bawdy at the time of it's release, but viewed today it is very tame, but entertaining, with some good locations and photography, not to mention a good cast!
Joan plays two roles in the film, like many of the main cast. Her main role as the young Pampinea, who has designs on the older Boccacio (Jourdan), but he has only eyes for Fiametta (Fontaine).Joan is eager in the role and manages to convey both innocence and sultriness! The bulk of the films running time is concerned with the three tales told by Boccacio and Fiametta.
Bosley Crowther of the New York Times reviewed the film in 1953,
" Even though M.J.Frankovich and William Szekely, dared at least to rush in where other filmmakers have feared to tread, by taking the bawdy tales of Italian courtier, Boccaccio and making a motion picture that would vaguely embrace the salty themes of marital discontent and indiscretion, contained in the great "Decameron". This big technicolor panorama, is a tame and generally witless trifling with the materials of naughtiness, lacking completely the vitality and the trenchant comments of the original. Jourdans performance consists almost entirely in looking handsome and roguish, in bright costumes, while Fontaine behaves all coquettish and throwing ladylike leers. Binnie Barnes whips about without any point or purpose and Joan Collins and Godfrey Tearle are present in lesser Roles"
"Decameron Nights" has been released  many times on video, most of terrible quality and has yet to be released on DVD, apart from an on demand DVD, but will wait for the studio release. I do have an Australian video version which is very good. Hopefully it will see a DVD release in the near future....


(c)  2010  Mark McMorrow...

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