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November 27, 2007

Black Emanuelle's Box, Volume 2

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Black Emmanuelle, White Emmanuelle/Velluto Nero
Brunello Rondi - 1976
Severin Films Region 1 DVD

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Black Emanuelle 2/Emanuelle Nera No. 2
Bitto Albertini - 1976
Severin Films Region 0 DVD

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Emanuelle and the White Slave Trade/La Via della Prostituzione
Joe D'Amato - 1978
Severin Films Region 1 DVD

There's no beating around the bush, this set of DVDs is aimed at adolescent boys of all ages. That much is a given with the package title. And aside from the questionable racism of the English language titles, the name of the title character is inconsistent from film to film. But the real truth is, none of these films were intended to be examined seriously.

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I saw the original Emmanuelle and barely remember anything about it. The three films here are just part of the several films that in some cases were titled simply to cash in on the popularity of the first film. Velluto Nero doesn't even have a character named Emmanuelle, or a plot for that matter. Albertini's film is a sexed up version of Rashomon with several men in Emanuelle's life offering different versions of her memories. D'Amato has Emmanuelle as a crusading journalist, armed with only her cigarette lighter sized camera, investigating a prostitution ring. Basically the formula requires lots of nudity, hetero and lesbian twosomes, threesomes, and shower scenes. To give those unfamiliar an idea of how these films ended up cannibalizing each other, Laura Gemser played a supporting role in the sequel to the original Emmanuelle, and there are two films that share the Black Emmanuelle, White Emmanuelle title. Most disturbingly, Susan Scott, who only a few years earlier had made a name for herself in gialli, would later star in Emanuelle e Lolita.

For the more serious film scholar, the bigger value of Black Emanuelle's Box is to be found in the supplements. Black Emanuelle 2 features an interview with Dagmar Lassander, seen above with some bedside reading. Lassander discusses how she first became involved as an actress, and the highs and lows of a career primarily in Italian sex and horror films. Aristide Massaccesi, better known as Joe D'Amato, is filmed discussing his career over a few beers with some British guys in the supplement with Emanuelle and the While Slave Trade. D'Amato admits that in some of his films, craftsmanship takes a back seat on some of his many projects. Velluto Nero has interviews with Al Cliver, as well as Annie Belle and Laura Gemser who are both heard but not seen. Taking the long view of film history, it is important to document those who toiled in the less celebrated strata of what is the film industry.

While it's not obvious from looking at Velluto Nero, Brunello Rondi co-wrote a couple of films with Rossellini along with Federico Fellini, and collaborated on several other Fellini screenplays. Two other significant credits in Velluto Nero belong to writer Ferdinando Baldi, credited as Fred Baldi here, and the infamous Bruno Mattei, serving as editor, with his own Emmanuelle entries just a few years away. Perhaps the strangest twist to the whole Emmanuelle saga is what happened to the woman who most frequently played that role. Her background in fashion exploited by Joe D'Amato, Laura Gemser eventually shifted towards a career doing costume design for low budget films. Once famous for disrobing in front of the camera, Gemser closed her show business career by dressing others.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at November 27, 2007 12:12 AM