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August 12, 2005

Call Girl and Nurse Double Feature

Secrets of a Call Girl
Anna, quel particolare piacere
Giuliano Carnimeo - 1973
No Shame DVD

The Sensuous Nurse
Nello Rossati - 1975
No Shame DVD

Maybe it was a coincidence, but based on the names of the two main characters of No Shame's newest releases, these films could be boxed together as "The Passions of Anna". (Apologies to Ingmar Bergman.) What is good about these films being on DVD is that while they will mostly be appreciated by fans of Edwige Fenech and Ursula Andress, for more scholarly types one can get a better idea of the kind of bread and butter filmmaking that went on in Italy in the mid Seventies.

Secrets of a Call Girl is as misleading a title as the original which roughly translates as Anna, a Particular Pleasure. Either title suggests a sex romp which this film is not. The film is primarily a drama following Edwige Fenech descent from gangster's girl friend to prostitute. After witnessing a murder, Fenech attempts to escape her past. I have only seen one other film by Giuliano Carnimeo, The Case of the Bloody Iris which I thought was a kinder, gentler variation of Mario Bava's Blood and Black Lace. While Secrets isn't as visually stylish, there is one nicely framed scene with gangster Corrado Pani in the background shooting at Fenech, who is stopped by glass doors in the foreground. Fans of Edwige Fenech can also enjoy more nudity than in the thrillers currently available.

The interviews with Fenech, Carnimeo and screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi are of interest in explaining the history of the filmmaking process not only for Secrets, but for those involved with genre films in the early Seventies in Italy. For me, the highlight of some of the No Shame DVDs has been the interviews with very informative Gastaldi. A very attractive brunette with long black hair, big brown eyes and cleft chin, Fenech is perhaps even more attractive today as a woman "of a certain age". Now working primarily as a film producer, her best known credit is Michael Radford's recent version of Merchant of Venice.

The Sensuous Nurse is the answer to the oft asked question: What does Ursula Andress look like without the white bikini she wears in Dr. No? This is another film about greedy relatives waiting for the wealthy patriarch to die so they can spend the anticipated inheritance as quickly as possible. Andress is the nurse who is hired to hasten death by exciting Mario Pisu with her presence, thereby causing a heart attack. There are a few chuckles as well as generous nudity provided by Andress and Carla Romanelli as a maid frequently out of uniform. Andress' fellow (fellow?) Bond girl, Luciana Paluzzi is seen frequently fighting to keep her clothes on in scenes with Duilio Del Prete. Keeping his clothes on is Jack Palance as the businessman planning to buy out the family's wine business, pending the death of Pisu. Somewhat similar to his role in Contempt, there is a scene of Palance on a hotel bed, phone in one hand, tweaking the breast of his female companion with the other hand. The Sensuous Nurse was made for those who enjoy, pardon the pun, broad comedy.

It may be worth noting that both The Sensuous Nurse and Secrets of a Call Girl were produced by Carlo Ponti. I may be wrong about this but one of the clients of Edwige Fenech is a short, older guy who suspiciously looks kind of like Ponti. While Ponti is better known for his association with films with loftier ambitions such as Contempt, with these new DVDs one can see a more pragmatic sensibility at work, the kind of commercial filmmaking that allowed Ponti to finance the more risky artistic expression.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at August 12, 2005 08:04 PM


I absolutely agree with Peter about the films level.

Posted by: Sheyla, nurse at March 27, 2006 02:57 PM