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“Tinto Brass Reopens the Closed Houses.” That was the film’s byline. Brass wanted to pay homage to the brothels of his 1950s youth, and so he apparently reworked and modernized his Fanny Hill screenplay. He had the script completed at least as early as 1986, but couldn’t find the right actress to play the lead. Finally he saw a news photo of a tennis match, with Klaus Kinski’s ex-girlfriend Debora Caprioglio looking on. That was the face he had been looking for. He contacted the newspaper photographer, who gave him Caprioglio’s phone number. Brass called the number and Caprioglio’s mother answered. “Is this really Tinto Brass?” she asked. “Hold on! I’ll get my daughter for you right away!” Now that’s a great mom!

Brass had previously included copious nudity and simulated sex in his movies, but that was never his focus. His focus instead was on emotions — rather profound emotions. Many audiences, however, couldn’t tell the difference, and dismissed his films as works of pornography. To many people, apparently, a nude is a nude is a nude, and the presence of a nude definitively makes a work pornographic. With Paprika there was a distinct change, for its primary purpose was to explore eroticism and arousal, and hence it is arguably a work of sheer exploitation. But it’s exploitation with a purpose, for it seeks to present sexual arousal as equally important as any other human experience, desire, or emotion. Further, the examination of prostitution from the prostitutes’s point of view is, in part, genuinely frightening. To make his points, Brass needed to be extreme, but he also needed to be extremely humorous. Brass also makes an argument for the cultural importance of the brothel (I can’t relate to that at all), which was a rather refined meeting ground for all levels of society in pre-prohibition Italy, and he laments its degradation into a seedy locus for a quick romp. The story itself is not notably creative, but it serves as a launching pad for an argument seldom made in movies before, and probably never made as forcefully. Fiancé Nino in need of money, innocent 18-year-old lass decides to move into a bordello for only two weeks to earn some money. When she has a surprise encounter with the future Mrs. Nino, she concludes she has no reason to quit her new job, and so tours the bordello circuit in Italy and France. Finally she marries a goofy old count who has the discourtesy to drop dead. The new countess returns to see her friends at her first bordello as it’s being closed by the government. On a superficial level, the movie appears superficial, and that was precisely the point. It would have been counterproductive for the movie to have noticeably lofty intentions. The movie is a time-capsule into a slightly earlier age, an age that is largely forgotten already. That is its importance.

WHERE HAVE WE HEARD THAT BEFORE? The title theme is a repeat of the funniest polka from The Key. Three themes from Capriccio are repeated, as well as two from Miranda and one from Snack Bar Budapest.

OTHER NOTES: How many other movies have a sex scene scored with an Edith Piaf song? The best piece of music, a double-speeded “Ciribiribin,” ends far too soon. I could listen to it all day long. I’d love to blast it on a concert-sound system in my neighborhood — all the time. No matter what else I or anyone else might think of this film, the use of that song gave me one of the loudest and hardest laughs I’ve ever had in my life. There’s almost as much blue neon in this film as there was in Snack Bar Budapest. There are two references to Salon Kitty: one in which Madame Collette performs a cabaret number, and another that repeats the most surreal scene in Salon Kitty, in which a prostitute (here played by Valentine Demy) gets rabies. The original was much better. This film has the ugliest guy you’ve ever seen, along with a bunch of the most unpleasant, including Paprika’s client/uncle. I’ve never seen John Steiner ham it up so much as he does here. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen any actor ham it up so much as John Steiner does here. There’s also a disturbing scene reminiscent of Rudolf Leonhardt and G. W. Pabst’s Das Tagebuch einer Verloren (Diary of a Lost Girl) in which it’s impossible to tell whether what we’re seeing is a seduction or a rape. After a short while it’s difficult not to feel sorry for all the performers in this film, because although this isn’t hardcore, in many ways it’s more extreme and much more embarrassing. Fans of T&A will probably get a great kick out of Paprika, more so than they would from any other Brass movie except possibly for Fallo.

Tinto Brass on the set —
Unidentified on the left
and Debora Caprioglio on the right
Tinta Brass as the bartender

MONEY: This movie made a mint. And it wasn’t just guys who made it successful. Gals apparently loved it too.

BERNARDINO ZAPPONI. This film first of two collaborations between Brass and Fellini’s frequent coauthor, who had previously penned such notable Fellini films as Toby Dammit (an episode of Spirits of the Dead), Roma, Casanova, and La città delle donne (The City of Women), as well as a Dario Argento film called Profondo rosso. Apparently this movie was inspired by a pseudonymous short story he had published. Tinto Brass read it, immediately recognized the style, called Zapponi and asked if he was the author, and when Zapponi confessed, Brass offered him a scriptwriting job. The two would work together again on the other of Brass’s two fluffiest films, Così fan tutte.

A REFERENCE: A train passenger is reading Ed McBain’s L’altra parte della città. I don’t know the significance of that.

British Region-2 PAL DVD, which will not play on most US equipment.
English subtitles.
ANICA — Associazione Nazionale Industrie Cinematografiche Audiovisive e Multimediali

Augusto Caminito presenta
un film di Tinto Brass


Soggetto e sceneggiatura
(original story and screenplay)
Tinto Brass, Bernardino Zapponi
Scenografia (art direction) Paolo Biagetti
Arredamento (set décor) Bruno Cesari
Costumi (costumes) Jost Jakob
Musiche composte e dirette da
(music composed and directed by)
Riz Ortolani
Direttore della fotografia
(director of photography)
Silvano Ippoliti
Collaborazione al montaggio (assistant editor) Fiorenza Müller
Segretaria di edizione (continuity) Carla Cipriani
Fotografo di scena (still photographer) Gianfranco Salis
Direttore di produzione (production manager) Vittorio Fornasiero
Organizzatore generale (general manager) Claudio Grassetti
Diretto e montato da
(directed and edited by)
Tinto Brass
Aiuto regista (assistant director) Francesco Ascione
Assistente alla regia (asst. to the director) Germano Tarricone
Assistenti al montaggio (assistants to the editor) Emanuela Cucidi, Giovanna Ritter
Cameramen Massimo di Venanzo, Ettore Corso
Aiuti operatori (assistant camera operators) Camillo Sabatini, Renato Palmieri, Andrea Doria
Coreografo (choreography) Gabriella Borni
Ufficio stampa (publicity) Adriano Pintaldi, Isabella Gullo
Costumista (costume designer) Luigi Bonanno
Truccatori (make-up artists) Claudia Shone, Dirk Naastepad
Parrucchieri (hairdressers) Vitaliana Patacca, Martina Patacca
Aiuti scenografo (assistant art directors) Luigia Battani, Federico Brasca
Capo elettricista (gaffer) Sergio Spila
Capo macchinista (key grip) Massimo Galiano
Capo Attrezzista (prop master) Roberto Magagnini
Fonico (sound) Roberto Alberghini
Microfonista (boom operator) Marco di Biase
Elettricisti (best boys) Marcello Cardarelli, Franco Cardarelli, Franco Gubbiotti
Macchinisti (grips) Vittorio Rocchetti, Jean Michel Poggioli, Marco Vitali
Attrezzisti (prop masters) Walter Gatti, Marcello Nolfo
Sarte (dressmakers) Alberta Ceccarelli, Anna Maria Rinaldi
Falegname (carpenter) Marco Davoli
Tappezziere (upholsterer) Rodolfo Mignacca
Pittore (painter) Claudio D’Angelo
Scultore (sculptor) Paolo Del Grande
Ispettore di produzione (unit manager) Silvano Spoletini
Segretari di produzione (production secretaries) Filippo Deodato, Francesca Deodato, Mauro Babini
Ispettore di produzione a como Massimo Santorsola per la Lupetta 5
Fausto Capozzi, Patrizia Mastrofini
Teatri di posa (interiors) De Paolis
Negativi (negative stock) Fuji - Kodak
Sviluppo e stampa (lab) Telecolor s.p.a.
Tecnico del colore (color technician) Pasquale Cuzzupoli
Titoli e truke (titles and opticals) Studio 4
Assistente di doppiaggio (assistant dubber) Emanuela Fantini
Fonico di doppiaggio (dubbing recorder) Marco Lippi
Mixage (mixer) Alberto Doni
Sonorizzazione (recording studio) Cooperativa di Lavoro Fono Roma
Effetti sonori (sound effects) Cine audio effects, Fernando Caso, Alvaro Gramigna
Sartoria (wardrobe) Neri NTM, Russo, G.P. 11
Calzature (shoes) L.C.P. s.r.l.
Parrucche (wigs) Rocchetti - Carboni
Gioielli (jewelry) Lembo
Pellicce (furs) De Carlis
Arredamento (set décor) Dedalo, Postiglione, Sanchini
Mezzi tecnici (technical equipment) Arco Due s.r.l.
Trasporti (transport) Romana Trasporti Cinematografici s.r.l.
Musiche di repertorio (musical excerpts) MON MANÈGE A MOI
(N. Glanzberg / J. Constantin)
Edith Piaf
Ed. Leonardi
Disco EMI Italiana
Leo Ferré
Ed. Peer Edizione Musicale
Leo Kok / Leo Lellevre Fils / P. de Lima
(Georgius / Tremolo)
Ed. Southern
(C. Tiochet / A. Pestatozza)
Renato Carosone
Ed. Nuova Carisch s.r.l.
Disco EMI Italiana
(Rendine / Pisano)
Renato Carosone
Ed. Rendine
Disco EMI Italiana
Renato Carosone
Ed. Leonardi
Disco EMI Italiana
(B. Cherubini / C. A. Bixio)
Ed. Bixio Sam
Disco Cinevox
(Carlo Balardi / F. Rossi)
Combo Record
Ismoban agenzia di sviluppo Scai Arte Edizioni
Produttore esecutiva (executive producer) Giusepe Auriemma per Scena Group S.r.l.-Roma
Prodotto da (produced by) Augusto Caminito
Mimma Wassermann / Paprika Debora Caprioglio
??? Stéphane Ferrara
Madame Collette Martine Brochard
??? Stéphane Bonnet
??? Rossana Gavinel
Il conte Renzo Rinaldi
??? Nina Soldano
??? Clara Algranti
??? Luciana Cirenei
Il principe John Steiner
??? Valentine Demy
Nino Luigi Laezza
??? Riccardo Garrone
??? Paul Müller
??? Clarita Gatto
Remo Osiride Pevarello
??? Ornella Marcucci [uncredited]
??? Debora Vernetti
??? Elizabeth Kaza
??? Elisabetta Lupetti
??? Gabriella De Baggi
??? Carla Salerno
??? Milly Corinaldi
??? M[aria]. Cristina Mastrangeli
??? Rossella Pezzullo
??? Tiziana D’Arcangelo
??? Tilde De Spirito
??? Alessandra Bonarotta
??? Gianni Demartiis
??? Hella Estaire
??? Andrea Aureli
??? Debora Calì
??? Jacopo Gualtieri
??? Marilena Trifone
??? Domiziano Arcangeli
??? Laura Piattella
??? Eolo Capritti
??? Carla Solaro
??? Alfredo Quadrelli
??? Roberta Sarazzi
??? Fred Senika
??? M. José Da Silva
??? Felice Leveratto
??? Daniela Fedke
??? Libero Sansovini
??? Sibilla De Conti
??? Luca Lionello
??? Tiziana Del Poggio
??? Maurizio Romoli
Dott. Bavarelli Tinto Brass [uncredited]
Bartender Carla Cipriani [uncredited]

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