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!


THE
WORKS
OF
TINTO
BRASS

Program notes by RJ Buffalo

IN MARCH 2002 I CONTACTED ALL THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS I COULD LOCATE IN ORDER TO OBTAIN PERMISSIONS. IF YOU OWN THE RIGHTS TO ANY IMAGES OR QUOTES ON THIS WEB SITE PLEASE CONTACT ME. THANK YOU.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Click on the section that interests you.

APPRENTICESHIP

Spatiodynamisme (1958)
L’India vista da Rossellini
(India Seen by Rossellini, 1958)
10-part TV miniseries
and
India matri bhumi
Les noces vénitiennes
(a.k.a. Venetian Honeymoon, 1958)
Il Generale della Rovere (1959)
L’Italia non è un Paese povero
(Italy Is Not a Poor Country, 1959–1960)
3-part TV miniseries

WINNING ACCOLADES

Ça ira, il fiume della rivolta
(a.k.a. Tell It Like It Is, 1962)
Chi lavora è perduto—in capo al mondo
(Whoever Works Is Lost—To the Ends of the Earth, 1963)
La donna è una cosa meravigliosa
(Woman Is a Wonderful Thing, 1964)
  Imago (1964)
Unproduced film
  Il tempo lavorativo
(Work Time, 1964)
  Il tempo libero
(Leisure Time, 1964)

ALMOST MAINSTREAM

Il disco volante
(a.k.a. The Flying Saucer, 1964)
La mia signora
(My Wife, 1964)
Yankee (1965–1966)
Heart in His Mouth
(a.k.a. Col cuore in gola,
Dead Stop: le coeur aux levres,
Deadly Sweet,
En cinquième vitesse (In Fifth Speed),
Escalation,
Heart Beat,
I Am What I Am,
Ich Bin Wie Ich Bin: Das Mädchen aus der Carnaby-Street,
With Bated Breath, 1967)

AVANT-GARDE, UNDERGROUND,
AND GUERRILLA FILMMAKING

NEROSUBIANCO
(a.k.a. Attraction—Black on White, 1968)
  A Clockwork Orange
(Arancia meccanica, 1968–1969)
Unproduced film, later made by Stanley Kubrick
L’urlo
(Howl a/k/a The Cry, 1969–1970)
  Barbarella Goes Down (1969)
Unproduced film
Dropout (1970)
  DNA (1970)
Unfinished film
  L’evasione
(The Evasion, 1971)
Unproduced film
La vacanza
(The Vacation, 1971)
  Untitled thriller (1971)
Unproduced film
I Miss Sonja Henie
(a.k.a. Nedostaje Mi Sonja Henie, 1972)
  Order and Sex Discipline (1972)
Unproduced film
  History of Italy (1972)
Unproduced film
  Le sardomobili
(The Sardine-Mobiles, 1972)
TV commercial

BIG BUDGETS AND BIG HEADACHES

  The Borgias (1972–present)
Unproduced film
Pranzo di famiglia
(Family Lunch, 1973/1976/1986)
Stage play by Roberto Lerici
  Punch (1974)
Unproduced film
  Sturmtruppen (1974)
Unproduced film, later made by Salvatore Samperi
Salon Kitty
(a.k.a. Madam Kitty, 1975–1976)
L’uomo di sabbia
(The Sand Man, 1976)
Stage play by Riccardo Reim
Gore Vidal’s Caligula
(a.k.a. Io Caligola, 1976–1977)
  A Documentary on the Making of
“Gore Vidal’s Caligula”
(1976–1981)
  Punch (1977–1978)
Unproduced film
  The Pig Advantage (1978)
Unproduced film

AFTERMATH:
ONE MORE GUERRILLA FILM
AND A DREAM COME TRUE

Action (1979)
Boudoir
(1981–1982)
Unproduced film, later adapted for the stage (1985)
Tinto Brass’ “Fanny Hill” (1982–1983)
Unproduced film, later made by Harry Alan Towers
  Lord Byron (1982)
Unproduced film
The Key
(a.k.a. La chiave, 1983)
  Untitled British Film (1985)

EROTICA — THE FIRST PHASE

Miranda (1985)
Capriccio
(a.k.a. Love and Passion, 1987)
Snack Bar Budapest (1988)
Calze Levante (1990)
TV commercial
Paprika (1991)
  Lulų (1991)
Stage play by Frank Wedekind
Cosė fan tutte
(a.k.a. All Ladies Do It, 1992)
  Tenera è la carne
(Tender Is the Flesh, 1993)
Unfinished film
L’uomo che guarda
(a.k.a. The Voyeur, 1994)
Reggiseno Infiore (1994)
TV commercial

EROTICA — THE SECOND PHASE

Fermo posta Tinto Brass
(a.k.a. P.O. Box Tinto Brass, 1995)
Venezia Erotica (February 1996)
Foreword to a book
  The Big Strip !
uptight9.".Mama Oliver.eastwest
{the Shantel Remixes}
(1996)
45rpm vinyl
Quando l’Italia non èra un Paese povero
(When Italy Wasn’t a Poor Country, 1997)
Monella
(a.k.a. Frivolous Lola, 1998)
Lucignolo
(Cute Little Lucio, 1999)
TRAsgreDIRE
(a.k.a. Transgressing, 1999–2000)
Corti circuiti erotici
(Erotic Short Circuits, 1999–2000)
  Untitled Ukrainian project (1999)
Unproduced film
EuroTrash (2000)
TV interview
Così come sono
(That’s the Way I Am, 2000)
Introduction to a novel
Senso ’45
(a.k.a. Black Angel, 2001–2002)
FALLO! “Honni soit qui mal y pense”
DO IT!, 2003 )
Monamour (2005)

Afterword

Acknowledgments

I am forever indebted to my Milanese friend Massimo Polidoro, who will probably never understand why I like Tinto Brass’s films, but who has nonetheless been gracious enough to send me some Italian VHS releases that are unavailable on this side of the Atlantic. I am also indebted to Walter and Carmen of Buffalord in Bettole di Buffalora, Brescia, who have been kind enough to go far out of their way to keep me apprised of Tinto Brass news, to find still more and more and to tell me about VideoPark in Genova, which I would probably never have learned about otherwise. Thanks also to Joyce Elliott of Conyers, Georgia, for allowing me to see La mia signora, Jönas of Sweet Cozy Video in Sweden for allowing me to see NEROSUBIANCO, and to others in England, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, and Australia, who sold invaluable items on eBay and who otherwise rounded up videos and articles for me. Thanks to their collective efforts, my Tinto Brass collection has grown from four VHS tapes of terrible quality to dozens of tapes and DVDs, many of excellent quality, over just the past year and a half. Ultimately, I’m grateful to the blossoming Internet, without which most of the information and products I’ve gathered would literally have been unobtainable. And thanks to Kevin Christopher for taking three hours out of his schedule to teach me the basics of html and PhotoShop.

—2 March 2002

Introduction

Tinto Brass’s career for the first quarter of a century was possibly the most jinxed in cinema history, but, beginning in 1983 with a series of nine erotic films, has become one of the rosiest but most misunderstood in cinema history.

I had never heard of Tinto Brass until the late 1970s when I read an interview he gave to Gideon Bachmann in The London Times (Wednesday, 3 August 1977, p. 13). His remarks sufficiently intrigued me to begin a decades-long search, a search that for many years turned up almost nothing apart from tantalizing articles in trade papers. Since the autumn of 2000, though, thanks to friends in Italy, on-line overseas shopping, and eBay, I’ve been able to locate a fair number of Brass’s creations. I had been expecting at least a few of his earlier films to be excellent, but I wasn’t expecting them to be quite as good as they actually turned out to be.

I only recently [2001] learned that Mondo Video [defunct as of May 2008] has been offering some of Brass’s movies, but its web site provided nothing more than the titles. So as a favor to the shop, I offered to create a page devoted to Sig. Brass. This is difficult. In younger years (not much younger, really), I was more than happy to offer my opinions, but after ten years of having my life traumatically unravel around me, I’ve gone through a complete reversal. Yes, I still offer my views once in a while, but I buffer them by making it explicit that they are purely subjective and need not be taken seriously. So that’s what I’m saying here. Works should speak for themselves; they don’t need my help or hindrance. But how can I pitch something without offering opinions? I’ve backed myself into a corner. I’ll never do this again. So if you disagree with my opinions, fine. I imagine, though, that there are at least a few others on this planet who think like I do, and so maybe I can encourage some people to stop by to check some tapes out. [NOTE ADDED JUNE 2008: Not anymore. Too late. Sorry.]

Brass is a natural-born clown, and his better films are filled with wonderful, often impish, humor. Following his mentor, Joris Ivens, he adopted an impressionistic style. There is nary a sweeping landscape or involved explanation of characters or situations. Instead we are dropped into the midst of action and catch only fleeting glimpses of our surroundings. We need to piece together what we see and hear into a more complete picture. A few of Brass’s films are structured in the manner of human thought processes, flowing with free associations—sometimes we can’t even know what’s supposed to be real and what isn’t. Of course, not all of his films are successful; almost from the start Brass occasionally accepted studio assignments (one of them, Caligula, was especially disastrous), and from about 1987 through 1994, when he was beginning to switch to erotica of the intelligent, insightful, and introspective kind, he occasionally misstepped, as he was experimenting with various formulas—and inventing a few others. Overall, though, his oeuvre is outstanding. Brass intended his films for general audiences, for popular amusement, but to his dismay only intellectuals appreciated his earlier works—and once he finally won mass popularity in 1983 for his erotica, he lost his earlier fans.

SOURCES: This web page is based upon an enormous number of newspaper and magazine clips, along with several books, most notably Stefano Iori’s Tinto Brass and Antonio Tentori’s Tinto Brass: Il senso dei sensi, both of which are available through Tinto Brass’s official web site. Another invaluable source is a paperback from 2005 called Obiettivo Brass, consisting largely of a lengthy interview conducted by Mario Gagliardotto.

The Major Publications
Notes added on 28 April 2007

Hard to find, but I finally got a copy on Thursday night, 26 April 2007. Incredibly good info, and it has transcriptions of those wonderful lyrics that I had so much trouble understanding! Includes the treatments for the unmade movies!!!!!! Click on the picture above to see the front and back covers, the masthead, title page, and copyright page.

Not as hard to find, and it still pops up on eBay once in a blue moon. Click on the picture above to see the front and back covers, the masthead, title page, and copyright page.

Still pops up on eBay. Click on the picture above to see the front and back covers, the masthead, title page, and copyright page.

Oh this one is sweet. It consists largely of affectionate tributes to Tinto Brass from those who have known him and worked with him. Click on the picture above to see the front and back covers, the masthead, title page, and copyright page.

Apparently Nocturno is regularly shipped to subscribers in a plastic wrapper that includes a separately bound supplement entitled Nocturno Dossier. This particular Dossier was devoted entirely to Tinto Brass, and it includes information and photos you won’t find anywhere else. Click on the picture above to order a copy.

The most recent book, which apparently borrowed a bit from my web site. (But then, hey, my web site borrowed from some of the books I’m advertising here.) Click on the picture above to see the front and back covers, the masthead, title page, and copyright page.
Now, how do you get hold of these publications? Well, except for the Nocturno Dossier # 25 it will be a bit tricky to get these items. Keep trying Tinto Brass’s web site, as well as the Internet Bookshop, Hoepli, and BookFinder. Good luck!

A PLEA FOR HELP: Can anyone help fill in some blanks in this web site? Æons ago I spent several years working in semi-professional and, occasionally, professional theatre. That’s when I discovered that I just adore actors. Actually, I adore all performers, but especially actors. And so I always like to know the names of the people I am watching. Unfortunately, many European movies keep identities secret. We see some of the names in the credits, but we don’t know which name belongs to which face. I have spent more time than I care to tally trying to identify the actors in Brass’s films. I would truly appreciate any help anyone can offer me here. You can write to me at rjbuffalo@rjbuffalo.com. (I trust that messages will concern only corrections, answers to my questions, and responses to my requests.)

ALWAYS WORKING, ALWAYS WORKING, ALWAYS WORKING..., as my lovably insane author friend, the late Tim Cooney, so often said of himself. And as someone else once said, no book is ever completed; it’s only abandoned. The only advantage to publishing a book on the Web is that I can keep on completing it. Every time someone sends in a correction, and every time it dawns on me that I could word something a bit better, I do so. And over these past few weeks (October–November 2003) it occurred to me that it would be nice to add some more illustrations and to quote from background documents. The production notes I added to establish a context and to counter some of the inevitable misinformation published on the Internet Movie Database and elsewhere. The reviews I added as further historical context. The critics were sometimes perceptive but usually clueless. I hope you find their writings amusing.


Giovanni Brass was born in Milano on Sunday, 26 March 1933, but was raised in Venice. His grandfather, painter Italico Brass, gave the youngster the nickname of Tintoretto, which was itself the nickname of painter Jacopo Robusti (1518–1594). (Incidentally, Gore Vidal, in a TV special called Artful Journeys: Vidal in Venice, referred to Tintoretto as the Cecil B. De Mille of Venetian painters.) Anyway, Tintoretto was soon shortened to Tinto. Tinto’s father was a noted and well-to-do lawyer, and Brass originally planned to pursue that same career. He completed his university law degree and practiced for three months, but then moved to Paris in 1957 and got a job as a projectionist at the Cinémathèque Française, where he also apprenticed to film archivist/curator Henri Langlois through 1960.

Read Brass’s recollections about these times:
http://www.tamtamcinema.com/persona.asp?lang=eng&id=332

He was hooked and soon directed a short film produced by Langlois and the Cinémathèque.

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE