The Beautiful Muse Of Jesus Franco, Lina Romay
Yowza! What a film! Jess Franco is a genius. So rich with styles, ideas, images, acting, nudity, music! All Franco’s obsessions boil beneath the seemingly calm surface of this mirror. Lina Romay strips nude and kills herself as her sister tries on her wedding gown. The wedding is off and with her father’s blessing (Howard Vernon) Anne ( Emma Cohen) sets off for the city to be a musician. Unfortunately her sister haunts her from any nearby mirror, calls to her to come to her, puts her in a trance where she kills whatever man she’s with, and acts strangely in general. It’s like a fairy tale for adults, full of plot elements from many different genres, all pulpy! It’s like Godard, sort of improvised but not trying to be arty, instead telling a lurid tale that nonetheless pulsates with creativity. There’s a scene in a theater that reminds me of Argento’s Four Flies On Grey Velvet. Everything is grist for Franco’s mill and his unerring eye can set a mood with one or two seemingly banal shots, a flower, a seascape at dusk, home movie material yet in Franco’s capable hands they become images loaded with foreboding. I watched the Italian version of this film which has hardcore inserts cut into it. Even they didn’t ruin it for me. Did Franco cut them in himself? I don’t know. I think this film is great, I’d love to see the other versions but I really liked this one and I love Lina Romay, I don’t want to see someone else playing the dead sister. Check it out if you can find it.
I’d like to take a moment to salute the great Jess Franco. A true Alchemist of Cinema, taking the dross of genre film and turning it into Gold. Making almost 200 films, how cool is that. A multi lingual jazz musician super prolific filmmaker. He may not be wealthy, living in a mansion in the south of France but he is one of the richest men on the planet in terms of his life and his accomplishments. Like the Magus and The Alchemist of old he ignored materialism and “success” and concentrated on what was important to him, creating Pure Cinema in every moment. He has done so more than any other man.