Monday, July 21, 2008

Cinema's Great Faces: Caroline Munro

This is part of my Caroline Munro Tribute Week at Harry Moseby Confidential.

Caroline Munro
Caroline Munro came into this world at the very beginning of the decade that brought us Rock 'n' Roll, The New Wave and Playboy. Born on the sixteenth day of January 1950 in Windsor, Berkshire she grew up around the Rottingdean district near Brighton. The former Catholic Convent schoolgirl stumbled into what would turn into her film career just past her sixteenth birthday when her mother entered a photograph of her into a contest The Evening News was having called “Face of the Year”. This entry opened the door to an instant modeling career, the promise of fame and London, the city she relocated to less than a year later.
Caroline’s remarkable face and figure began appearing everywhere in London newspapers, ads and magazines and soon film producers were clamoring to preserve her distinctive beauty on celluloid. Bit parts began as early as 1966 (with Casino Royale in 1967 being one of them) as well as some brief work as a singer and in 1969 she landed her first major film role, in the comedic western A Talent For Loving for director Richard Quine. Despite being nearly completely inexperienced the young Munro had no trouble holding her own against such heavyweight veterans as Richard Widmark and Cesar Romero in this lightweight but intriguing film.
Caroline Munro
A flurry of film roles (including parts in the Dr. Phibes films) as well as modeling assignments followed before Caroline would land one of her most popular roles in Hammer’s Dracula A.D. 1972 for director Alan Gibson. While not one of the leads, Caroline’s work in the film (and in the film’s memorable promotional campaign) opposite Christopher Lee would prove to be very iconic and would make her instantaneously one of the premiere Scream Queens of the seventies.
Caroline Munro
With her affiliation with Hammer in place, Caroline scored possibly her finest role in 1974 with Brian Clemen’s remarkable Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter. Charismatic, charming and never less than effective, Caroline would prove to be one of the biggest assets to one of Hammer’s most enduring classics of the seventies.
1974 would also bring her the role of Margiana in Gordon Hessler’s terrific The Golden Voyage of Sinbad opposite the much missed John Phillip Law. The film has turned out to be, along with Kronos, among the most loved productions Caroline graced in the seventies.
Caroline Munro
Steady work followed throughout the rest of the decade in such films as The Devil Within Her (1975), At The Earth’s Core (1976) as well as some television work. Caroline then became one of the most memorable Bond girls of the seventies in the rejuvenating The Spy Who Loved Me for director Lewis Gilbert in 1977 and she proved up to the challenge of Luigi Cozzi’s goofy but enduring Star Wars cash in flick StarCrash in 1978.
The eighties began with a bang for Caroline with one of her most controversial roles in William Lustig’s masterpiece Maniac, a ferocious film that paired Caroline in an unlikely part as a photographer being romanced by psychopath Joe Spinell. The two would work together again two years later in the less noteworthy The Last Horror Film. She also made many a head turn in Adam Ant's popular "Goody Two Shoes" video in this period as well.
Caroline Munro
As the eighties progressed, Caroline made fewer films and concentrated more on her family. She did make the time to appear in Jess Franco's fine Faceless in 1988 and made a second film with Cozzi in 1989, The Black Cat.
Caroline is a fixture on the Horror Convention circuit as a reputation of being one of the warmest and most genuine people in the business. While her film career could have perhaps been more (she turned down roles in Superman among many other high profile films) she is a legend to many genre film fans, a class act who graced some of the most memorable films of the seventies. She has recently released an acclaimed DVD featuring a long interview with her as well as numerous extras. Information on this release and her career can be found at her official site.


Steve Langton said...

Nice to see a tribute to this talented and beautiful lady. She truly is one of cinema's great faces, and I hope she gets to see your post sometime soon.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Steve,
I like Caroline a lot and am looking forward to paying a little tribute to her this week. Hope you enjoy it.