BluRay/DVD Reviews


By • Jun 8th, 2002 •

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Image Entertainment presents a Something Weird Video release of a double-bill:

FUEGO – 1968 – Color – 84 mins. – full screen. Starring Isabel Sarli. Co-starring, produced, written and directed by Armando Bo.

THE FEMALE – SEVENTY TIMES SEVEN – 1968 – B&W – 95 mins – 1.85:1 aspect ratio.

Isabel Sarli, Francisco Rabal, Jardel Filho.

Directed by Leopoldo Torre Nilsson.
English version written and directed by Jack Curtis.

The back jacket gets it better than I can, sending FUEGO up like the piece of Russ Meyeresque camp it is…on one level. What the notes fail to do is to take it a bit further. Isabel Sarli plays a flouncy upper class siren addicted to sex. In scene after scene she is foisting her upper class torso onto unsuspecting handymen, shop owners and innocent bystanders. If Ms. Sarli’s ‘Laura’ merely kept up her one-note nympho act, the film would be exactly the hoot as described. But by the mid-point, desolate with self-loathing, she’s begging her husband to kill her, and under all the tawdry filmaking and less than artistic acting, something palpably tragic nonetheless begins to expose itself. And to its credit, the film ends honestly along the unredemptive descent of that arc.

An opera’s worth of strang an drum, and all the poor woman needed was a vibrator.

Ms. Sarli, a former Miss Argentina (thirteen years before FUEGO), has Ludmila Tcherina’s captivating overbite and Yma Sumac’s dark hispanic beauty. Her thespian gifts are far less bountiful than her other god-given endowments, but she manages to deliver the goods anyway, possibly because she radiates a degree of sympathy and, as the film progresses, vulnerability.

Starring opposite Ms. Sarli, as I’ve read he often did, is her real life husband, Director Armando Bo. Bo, an Argentine Alan King, has fleshy lips which he smears all over Ms. Sarli’s face, muich to our chagrin. Listening to them grunting like pigs gets a tad nauseating, though again, I don’t want to underestimate Bo – that may have been the intended reaction. Curiously, Miss Sarli never once unveils her ass for the camera, which leads one (or am I the only one?) to conjecture. But a trailer in the supplemental section for another Sarli/Bo extravaganza called Put Out or Shut Up reveals her backside and I’m glad to report there’s not a thing amiss in that department that I could detect. So I guess it just didn’t fit the theme of FUEGO in their eyes.

Maria Greber’s outrageous theme song, “Fuego”, is not unlike the title ditty for Django (Anchor Bay) in its wonderfully caricatured passion. Every time she gets the itch, on it comes, pounding like a flamenco dance played on an organ. It’s great fun, (even when listening to it on the menu), and after a while, like Ms. Sarli’s sexual craving, you just can’t do without it. I’ve been singing it to myself for weeks. Interestingly, the film ends not on the title tune, but with another composition written for the movie, Again I might be reaching a bit by suggesting that Bo felt the conclusion didn’t call for a passioanate rush; that denying us the motif made his narrative point.

The look of the DVD’s reproduced element is gratifyingly rich – the saturated, contrasty colors are reminiscent of both Kodachrome and reversal stock.

The second half of the double-bill –- THE FEMALE SEVENTY TIMES SEVEN –- is an occasionally creepy little mood piece about a prostitute staring apprehensively at a small black hole in the ceiling and flashing back to an eariler duplicitous time in her life. It’s admirably arty, and demonstrates that Ms. Sarli may actually have had some talent, but the dreadful dubbing kills it before long and fast-forwarding is in order.

The shorts and trailers that Something Weird dredged up to complement the double bill are entertaining. They’ve done well with this little package. It’s both a riot and a film history footnote, and I bet you’ll keep it in the collection.

Special features:
Three FUEGO trailers.
Other Argentinean trailers (and one from Spain)
Sexy and supposedly South American short subjects.
Gallery of sixties sexploitation art with Radio Spots.

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