Did you happen to record Monty Python’s Flying Circus
when it was shown on PBS back in the 1970s?
Do you still have the tapes?
Is there a TIME LIFE logo at the end?
If so, please write to me. Thank you!

Click here to learn the story.

THE WORKS OF TINTO BRASS


(Howl, 1968–1970)


Artwork by Piero Iaia for what appears to be a proposed English-language release, which never happened. (From Dott. Lorenzo Codelli et alia’s Nerosubrass, p 68.)
DVD NOW AVAILABLE! THANKS TO CULT EPICS! The 1:1.85:1 transfer at 16×9 is not the best, but don’t blame Cult Epics! That was the best material available. Really. I’m not joking. So don’t gripe. Just enjoy it. If you really feel compelled to gripe, then help out with a proper restoration, and cross your fingers and hope that the master elements still exist somewhere.



CLICK HERE FOR THE MOST INTELLIGENT ANALYSIS OF THIS MOVIE THAT I’VE EVER RUN ACROSS. You see, I don’t like explaining things that don’t absolutely need explaining. When others decide to explicate, that’s fine; they can do it. But I personally don’t want to do it. So when I wrote a description of this movie, I deliberately kept it as superficial as possible. Now Amy R. Handler has done such a beautiful job of getting at this movie’s meanings and purposes that I threw in the towel and deleted much of my own scribblings. So read Amy’s piece, please.

Oh! And look at this! Thanks to some exceptional librarians, I recently discovered that Amy Handler interviewed Tinto about this movie. That was in the March 2010 issue of Film International, a handsomely produced English-language Norwegian publication. I was trying to find a back issue for myself when a friend, just by coincidence, sent me the link to the online edition: “If history runs, cinema canít keep walking: an interview with Tinto Brass.” It’s an excellent interview, well worth reading. The readers’ comments underneath make my heart flutter. Of course, I’m still going to try to get the back issue. I had no idea at all how to reach Amy Handler. When I was recently in Boston/Cambridge, I saw advertisements for The Psych Drama Company. I didn’t know what it was and I certainly didn’t have even three minutes to myself to explore. Now I discover that Amy is the Director of Publicity there. Darn it! Darn it! Darn it! Had I known I would have carved out some time to pay a visit. Well, next go-round....


I’ve watched this movie countless times. Now, I can’t speak, read, write, or understand Italian. I need to spend just a few months in Italy to pick up the language. In the meantime, when watching movies I can struggle a bit and get the gist. But not with this movie. Finally I got a translation of the dialogue. And now I see why I could never understand it before. Here’s an example. A priest is performing a wedding ceremony:

PRIEST: Can the bird of Paradise strike against the annihilated consumed tree of your sap without a parachute?
GROOM: Yes.
PRIEST: And can the tired turtle fly fast in the months of July on Wednesday?
BRIDE: Um.
PRIEST: Ergo I lengthen a box on tip-toe, figs and cloves of breath. Anise.

What did the lion tell Coso and Anita in the cemetery?

Stop. Don’t play the game of the cemetery too. Block the communication circuit with barbed wire. Is he there? Will he be there? When will he be back? Clean-cut and resolute. An obol to the obelisk, a somersault in the middle of the night, piercing a syringe in the nose. Two perfumed fingers in the anus to draw syntactic, semantic and orthographic eggs. Hey, what are you doing? Pulling my leg? Then you didn’t understand a damn thing. Stop or I’ll eat you.

Well, I still feel stupid, but I don’t feel that stupid anymore.

Interesting that these lobby cards illustrate so many scenes that never made it to the final film. I wonder if that footage still exists somewhere....

Many of the locations look nothing like England, and according to Cinema X (vol. 1 no. 4 [1969?]), in addition to England, the film was made “on location in Rome, Naples, Berlin, Paris, and on a nudists’ island.”

Filming began at the end of September 1968 and wrapped by or before April 1969. The budget, as with Heart in His Mouth and NEROSUBIANCO, was close to zero. This was Brass’s first collaboration with the fabulous Fiorenzo Carpi, whose music is infectious, especially his upbeat theme song, “It’s an Evil World; It Won’t Tolerate Love” (“È un mondo cattivo non tolera l’amor”).

L’urlo received its world première a year later at the Berlin Film Festival on Saturday, 27 June 1970.


Edvard Munch, Skriket.

 

Hieronymous Bosch, Garden of Earthly Delights.

 


Yes, I know I’s an ignoramus because I don’t know who painted this. De Chirico maybe? What’s the title?

Whatshisname catches someone’s attention.

NOTE ADDED ON 23 DECEMBER 2009: You see? I am an ignoramus. It turns out that this is by Diego Rivera, entitled “Sueño en una tarde dominical en la alameda central” (1947).

Escape.

Tinto Brass as the bus driver can take no more.

Remember those days?

The Keystone Kops come to the rescue.

Occupation.

Hitchhiking.

Berto is everyone.

Hotel regulations:
“We are in a free country and whoever pays can have whatever he wants — all in advance, please.”

Who is this? Bonifacio by any chance?

’Twould never be.
(The actor is Giorgio Gruden.)

Hovering over...

...Spike Hawkins’s Tree Army Poem:
Alert ruin!
They shout
from the trees
stupid bloody acorns.

That’s it. That’s the whole poem.
Some of the hotel’s guests.

Leda and the Swan would pop up again in Caligula but the humorless bosses would cut it out.

Another motif that would pop up in later movies.

Tinto’s predecessor, Tintoretto, also tried his hand at Leda and the Swan.

Taking dictation.

Tino Scotti as The Intellectual.

The hotel’s confessional.

Guests in a hotel room.

And why not?

The gentle art...

...of underacting.
(That’s Tino Scotti again, this time as a security guard.)

The Greatest Philosopher.

Thanking Mother Nature.

Entering the home of The Greatest Philosopher...

...who prepares a meal.

Inside the philosopher’s home.

How to rescue a deleted scene.

Who on earth is this actor?

Awakened from a dream.

A political discussion.
(Who is that actress?)

Encountering Diogenes, the American (Edoardo Florio).

Commentary.

Geloni = chilblains = swellings caused by exposure to cold (to say nothing of the decapitated head mounted onto the cello).

Realizing that something is amiss.

The Intellectual resurrected.

Line-up for the firing squad. Goes by so quickly you can hardly make out what’s happening: The musician plays a recorder and a member of the firing squad brings a chair for the little old lady.

At long last, they discover command headquarters...

...operated by a wind-up doll.

The return of Bonifacio B?
I swear that’s Sady Rebbot. He also appeared earlier, as one of the threesome in bed at the surreal hotel, but we couldn’t see his face clearly and he was on screen only for the briefest moment. But even in bed he had his helmet on!

Take over.
Anita ends the war.
Who wants to convince me that Richard O’Brien never saw these stills even though they were published in England in 1969?

Party time.

They’re homeless, and their only property is a lunch box, so where do they get all the costume changes and make-up and new hair styles?

Mondo cattivo!

Rescue by roving minstrels.

A place of expiation...

...and a place of Redemption!

Why can’t we dress like this at the office?

The Prison Warden and his lackey.

Anita liberates the prison.
(Where on earth was this filmed?)

NOTE ADDED ON FRIDAY, 24 NOVEMBER 2006: As he so often does, Marco Fornier answered my question. This is the prison on the island of Santo Stefano, off Ventotene Island, which you can see and read about at Ventotene & S.Stefano and at Wikipedia: Isola di Santo Stefano. Remember back in school when we had to learn about Jeremy Bentham and his new Utilitarian idea for prison construction, which he called the Panopticon? The Panopticon simply demonstrated to me that Bentham was out of his bloody mind. Interestingly, there was also another Panoptikon, an invention by Grey and Otway Latham, along with their father, Major Woodville Latham — which, of course, leads us into the story of the Latham Loop and the Motion Picture Patent Wars which were settled in 1908. Why am I interested in this stuff? And why did Americans back then have such unusual names?

Cemetery.

The tail end of an otherwise-deleted segment.
The wedding that never happened.

A deleted sequence.
“A ha!” I hear you scream at me triumphastically. “The frame captures above show that you’re lying, because they prove that there is a better copy of the movie than what we get from Cult Epics!!! So what do you have to say to that, Mister Know-It-All?” This is what I have to say. The above frame captures are from an Italian cablecast, which was letterboxed 4×3 and with a rather soft focus and pixelation. The broadcast was from some sort of professional videotape, not from a film element. The videotape ultimately derived from a film element that cannot now be located, and which was censored, at times quite severely. Nonetheless, I would like to find that film element. If you know where it is, please write to me. Actually, I would like to find the camera neg and the master audiotapes. If you have any idea at all where they might be hiding, give me a holler. Trims would be interesting too, because so much was shot never made it into the final movie.

How could a movie like this miss? Simple: The Italian censors banned it. Brass could have compromised by cutting the film, but he stuck to his principles. By the time the censors cleared the film for release in 1974, the grooving hippie scene, which had inspired this film, had pretty much vanished, and so the movie died.

The Cry seems to have been planned at one time as the official English title, and then, as you can see above, a logo gave the title as Howl, but since the film was seemingly never released internationally, that hardly matters. Various journalists have referred to L’urlo as The Howl, The Shriek, The Screech, and The Scream. Take your pick.

ASTONISHING YOUTUBE VIDEO! While L’urlo was being filmed, someone made this little 16mm home movie. An Argentine friend began to interpret this for me. He spotted a brief glimpse of Gigi Proietti (I can’t recognize him) and he noted that this movie was clearly made by Frédéric Pardo, whom Tina was dating at that time, after having separated from Christian Marquand. The conversation posted beneath the video reveals that the guitarist is a movie director named Philippe Garrel who was filming Tina in another movie at the time, Le lit de la vierge, and that this home movie ties in with that as well. Take a look!





NOTE: Luigi “Gigi” Proietti also worked on four more Tinto Brass projects: he appeared in Dropout, he sang two songs in La vacanza, he was to have starred in a never-made movie called Punch, and he also directed the Italian dubbing of Salon Kitty. So I guess they’re friends. Their friendship was strained when Gigi so much wanted to appear in Caligula, but Tinto said No because his English was too halting. Oh well....

After you see this movie you’ll be a Gigi Proietti fan. So here are some web sites:
Gigi Proietti Home Page
Gigi Proietti in The Full Monty
Katia Ippaso, “Intervista a Gigi Proietti”
DEAD LINKS THAT MIGHT COME BACK TO LIFE SOME DAY:
http://www.raidue.rai.it/raidue/schede/9000/900062.htm
http://www.intrage.it/interviste/proietti/

ANOTHER NOTE: Brass does several voices, including that of Karl Marx.

AND YET ANOTHER NOTE: Please don’t be too put off by the bits with the mouse and the goslings. When I saw a bootlegged videotape, it really looked like the hotel proprietor killed the mouse on camera. Now that I’ve finally seen a clear, sharp, colorful store-bought original tape from Italy, it is apparent that the dead mouse had been dead for some time before the cameras started rolling. So I don’t know if they killed the poor little thing. (I adore mice — I like mice more than I like most people, actually.) And the cook who prepares goslings for dinner was obviously dealing with a gosling that had been freshly killed. Still disturbing to watch, though. The movie would have been a thousand times better without those two little bits. By the way, there were even more disturbing scenes in two later Brass films: Salon Kitty with its very brief slaughterhouse scene, and Caligula with its animal carcasses. Ugh! But please, even if you’re an animal lover like me, watch L’urlo anyway. It’s easily one of the best and most imaginative and most upbeat movies ever made.

HOMAGES: In the midst of clips of war atrocities are clips from Roberto Rossellini’s magnificent Paisà, which had appeared previously in Chi lavora è perduto. I’m sure that in addition to this and the references to Munch and Bosch and Ginsberg and “The Tree Army Poem” and probably hundreds of other things that I’ll never be able to recognize, are some items that you out there in Internet Land can fill me in on. Yes?

QUESTION: Sometimes movies make me feel stupid. I guess I’m supposed to recognize the French revolutionary hymn, but I don’t. Can anyone tell me what it is? (I’m familiar with La Marseillaise and Ça ira, as well as with Eugene Pottier’s communist hymn L’internationale, but I guess there were hundreds of others too.)



ANSWER: Thanks to Serge Bromberg and the Alliance Française of Los Ángeles, I now have the answer. The tune was taken from a Russian song composed by Anna Marly. The French lyrics were composed in London in 1943 by Joseph Kessel and Maurice Druon. The communist hymn was called “Le chant des partisans,” and it was once proposed as the national anthem.

MORE PICTURES:
FILM.TV.IT

I COULD BARELY BELIEVE IT WHEN I HEARD THAT TINA AUMONT HAD DIED. What’s the world coming to? Here are the obits:
Cinememorial: Aumont Tina
Décès de Tina Aumont, figure du cinéma italien au destin mouvementé
Morta in Francia Tina Aumont
Tina Aumont, nuit sans étoile: La comédienne égérie du cinéma underground s’est éteinte samedi à 60 ans
Little did I realize that her mother was Maria Montez, who became a central character in Gore Vidal’s mind-bendingly surreal novel Myron. Tina’s late husband, of course, was Christian Marquand, who nearly misdirected Buck Henry’s script of Candy (he misunderstood the American slang — but someone rescued him just in time).

These Italian videos without subtitles are long out of print. Try your luck. They are PAL VHS, which will not play on US equipment.

Variety, Wednesday, 25 September 1968, p. 32:

Tinto Brass will soon direct “L’Urlo” (The Shriek) with Tina Aumont for Dino De Laurentiis.

Variety, Wednesday, 1 July 1970, p. 13:

One is bound to have mixed feelings about such a mixed grab-bag of a film as this latest by the unevenly talented Tinto Brass, a young Italian who’s successfully rummaged through film libraries but lately come up with a style of his own. This irreverent nose-thumbing blast at modern manners and mores still has a familiar ring about it at times (Godard, Fellini, Pasolini and, inevitably, Buñuel) but a lot of it is fun once the spirit is assimilated and the intent becomes clearer. It could catch on here and there as a cult and college circuit item.

But the outlook is limited at best, despite such fillips as nudity, cannibalism, gang rape, anti-clericalism, masturbation, necrophilia — you name it: it’s all derisorily there to be mocked by the writer-director. Story-wise, it’s a jumble and hard to follow at first as Brass takes aud on a sort of odyssey through a present-day Dante’s inferno by following a young girl (Tina Aumont) who runs off with a stranger (Luigi Proietti) on the eve of her wedding to a middle-class square (Nino Segurini). The anti-establishment messages are all there, graphically or symbolically, on their joint journey. Some are amusing, others over-stated. Pic is ultimately pretentious, but more winningly so than some of Godard’s increasingly boring recent pamphlets.

Cast uniformly carries out director’s intentions and Tina Aumont’s disturbingly sultry beauty is an asset. Fiorenzo Carpi’s music and songs fit well, and Silvano Ippoliti’s camerawork (much of it on locations in England) is outstanding. — Hawk.

Variety, Wednesday, 8 July 1970, p 32:

Credits on the Italian entry at Berlin, “L’Urlo” (The Cry) should have read “Release not set,” rather than “DeLaurentiis release.”

ANICA — Associazione Nazionale Industrie Cinematografiche Audiovisive e Multimediali

Lion Film presenta un film di Tinto Brass

L’urlo

Distributed by Titanus International
World premiere on Saturday, 27 June 1970 — Released in 1974
Running time: 93 minutes (at 24fps)

Direttore della fotografia
(director of photography)
Silvano Ippoliti
Musiche di (music by) Fiorenzo Carpi
     Dirette da (directed by) Bruno Nicolai
Organizzatore generale (general manager) Marcello Bollero
Direttore di produzione (production manager) Giuseppe Scavuzzo c.s.c.
Aiuto registi (assistant directors) Franco Longo, Giorgio Patrono, Nico d’Alessandria c.s.c., Alan Sekers
Aiuto operatori (assistant camera operators) Enrico Sasso, Renato Doria
Ispettore di produzione (unit manager) Pierluigi Ciriaci
Segretario di produzione (production secretary) Toni Melaranci
Segretaria di edizione (continuity) Carla Cipriani
Costumi (costumes) Maricia D’Alfonso
Arredamento (set décor) Enzo Varano
Trucco (make-up) Sandro Melaranci
Fotografo (still photographer) Enzo Falessi
Fonico (sound) Pietro Spadoni
Capo elettricista (gaffer) Sergio Spila
Aiuto elettricista (best boy) Valerio Garzia
Gruppista (generator operator) Francesco Pandolfi
Capo macchinista (key grip) Francesco Solitario
Aiuto macchinista (grip) Paolo Anzellotti
Attrezzista (prop master) Piero Paparozzi
Aiuto montatrice (assistant editor) Fulvia Armanni
Effetti sonori speciali (special sound effects) Luciano Anzellotti
Missaggio (mixer) Fausto Ancillai
Sonorizzazione (recording studio) Nis Film
Soggetto (original story) Tinto Brass
Sceneggiatura (screenplay) Tinto Brass, Franco Longo
Dialoghi (dialogue) Giancarlo Fusco, Luigi Proietti
Liriche cinesi da (Chinese poems by) Poesia cinese moderna a cura di Renata Pisu (Editori Riuniti)
Colore della (color by) Tecnostampa
Prodotto da (produced by) Dino De Laurentiis [uncredited]
Regia e montaggio
(direction and editing)
Tinto Brass
PERSONAGGI E INTERPRETI
Anita Anigoni Tina Aumont (doppiata da Mariangela Melato)
Coso Luigi Proietti
Berto Bertuccioli Nino Segurini
??? Germano Longo (another link)
Diogenes Edoardo Florio
Guardiano notturno Giorgio Gruden
Filosofo antropofago Osiride Pevarello
??? Attilio Corsini
Pianista Carla Cassola
Prete Sam Dorras
Intelletuale Tino Scotti
Autista d’autobus Tinto Brass [uncredited]

To my surprise, I have discovered that not too many people like this movie. Well, few people are fans of the off-beat, certainly, but I was expecting the art-house crowd to enjoy it. A few audience members do, vigorously, and wear their enthusiasm as a mark of pride, but most aficionados of the surreal get frustrated and walk out in boredom. Is that perhaps because this movie goes even beyond surrealism? Flamboyance has never been a big selling point, and this movie oozes flamboyance. Other movies that ooze flamboyance, though they are different in almost every way, are The Boy Friend, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Lisztomania, Fellini’s Casanova, The City of Women, and The Voice of the Moon. In my limited experience, there are few people who can sit through more than ten minutes of any of those movies. Those who can sit through them, though, can never get enough, and want more and more and stronger and stronger, and will never be satisfied. The flamboyance is like an addiction, with each dose needing to be exponentially higher. So if you’re one of the very few who likes L’urlo, here’s a little something for you. You’re special, you’ve grown up in tumultuous times, and that’s why the world looks like L’urlo as far as you’re concerned. L’urlo, to my knowledge, had only one spiritual cousin, a theatrical troupe known as the Red Mole. L’urlo is often abrasive, violent, and aggressive. The Red Mole, on the other hand, was gentle to the nth degree. The similarity is that both took absurdist ideas and just let them grow, no matter where they went. Both wanted to knock the senses about so that audiences would, in their surprise, rethink everything. Both thrived on letting the cast invent freely. Of the two, I certainly prefer the Red Mole, and I am the first to admit that the suriving members of the Red Mole may not see anything in common with Tinto, and that Tinto may not see anything in common with the Red Mole. Unfortunately, with the demise of the two founders, the Red Mole is defunct. Fortunately, a few — a very few — moments of the Red Mole were preserved on film. And, fortunately, you can see some of those few moments here: http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/red-mole-on-the-road-1979. If you like L’urlo you’ll almost certainly love the Red Mole, though the reverse may not hold true. Here are some frame grabs:


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