Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Still Looking for that Italian Dream: Gloria Guida in Mario Imperoli's Blue Jeans (1975)

Even though she was one of the most distinctive and charismatic film stars that came out of seventies Italian Cinema, Gloria Guida has never quite gained the following in the United States that she has deserved. A big part of this is due to the fact that her film work has never had the type of exposure to English-language audiences as the work of say an Edwige Fenech or Laura Antonelli. The majority of the films Guida shot throughout the seventies have simply never found a home video release on disc in America or Britain.

A key work in Gloria Guida's elusive filmography is her fourth feature, Blue Jeans, released in Europe in 1975 just about a year after Guida had been crowned Miss Teen Italy. Guida was just 18 when she shot the admittedly uneven, but mildly entertaining, Blue Jeans with director Mario Imperoli, the filmmaker who had introduced her to film audiences with the very popular Monika in 1974. Italian audiences had responded immediately to Imperoli's sexy blonde discovery and by the time she reunited with the director again for Blue Jeans, Guida already had another two hits on her resume (Silvio Amadio's La minorenne and Giuliano Biagetti's La novizia).

Absolutely perfect for the sexy comedies that Italians were flocking to throughout the seventies, Gloria Guida was one of the most charming actors that came to fame in the commedia erotica all'italiana genre. Standing in clear contrast to her darkly sensual Italian peers, Guida was all sex and sunshine and she had the absolute perfect face, figure and openness for the Sex Comedies that she became famous for. Guida was also very funny and had a wonderfully sweet quality about her that gave even her more explicit films an oddly innocent feel, and a director who absolutely recognized this special quality was Mario Imperoli.

Born in Rome in 1931, Imperoli broke into the Italian film industry in the early seventies as a producer and writer and his discovery of Gloria Guida, and the subsequent films he shot with her, would turn out to be his most noteworthy cinematic achievement. With only 8 films to his credit as a director, Imperoli would sadly pass away in 1977, Monika and Blue Jeans gained the most notoriety, mostly due to the stunning young leading lady he had introduced to the film world.

Scripted by Imperoli, along with the incredibly prolific Piero Regnoli, Blue Jeans tells the story of young Daniela 'Blue Jeans' Anselmi, a free-spirited drifter who makes her way in life by selling sexual favors and practicing petty-crime. After Daniela is arrested, and discovered to still be a minor, the man who might be her long-lost father is called into her life to look after her.

Blue Jeans is a slight film that is only fitfully funny but it is never less than compulsively watchable thanks to Guida, who appears in nearly every scene of the film (that she easily steals from all of her more experienced costars including Paolo Carlini as her bumbling father). Featuring a delightfully breezy score by the legendary Nico Fidenco and some truly gorgeous color photography by future Dario Argento cinematographer Romano Albani, Blue Jeans is finally mostly just a showcase for Guida and her considerable physical charms (Imperoli all but abandons his already thin narrative throughout the film with fetish-like closeups of Guida's long muscular legs and shapely behind). If the film is perhaps more memorable than it should be it is probably due to the peverse and violent final act that seems taken from another work entirely.

When his camera isn't ogling Gloria Guida's astonishing physique, Imperoli's direction is workmanlike and not especially stylish. Compared to say the incredible satiric comedies that the great Salvatore Samperi was making with Laura Antonelli, such as the masterful Malicious (1973), Blue Jeans feels fairly weak indeed. Perhaps the big tragedy of Gloria Guida's career is that most of the films she did make throughout the seventies survived mostly due to her presence alone, with a few notable exceptions like Fernando Di Leo's haunting To Be Twenty (1978).

Like most of her films, Blue Jeans has never been released on home video in the United States and my copy comes from a fan-subbed European import. A special cult-figure in need of a larger audience, Gloria Guida could find a major new following if some enterprising company would invest in her elusive filmography. Until then, fansubbed versions of some of her films, like Blue Jeans, can be found on the web while a few have been granted Region 1 release (with special mention going to To be Twenty and Monika). For those with all-region players, with no need for English subs or dubs, a number more are available on European disc.


Daniel Orion Davis said...

Thanks for highlighting this film and the stunning Gloria Guida. I just watched To Be Twenty this weekend and thought it was fantastic. As always, seeing Gloria in a film just makes me want to see more of her work! Blue Jeans may have to be next.

Two things:

1) another of her films that is both pretty good and available on an English-friendly release is So Young, So Lovely, So Vicious with Dagmar Lassander. Not as good as 20, but well worth watching.

2) Re: Monika. Do you know anything about the cut material on this film? It seems that the American DVD is missing about 11 minutes - I've been hesitant to watch it for that reason. Do you have any idea what may have been cut or if there exists an uncut DVD release?

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks so much for the comments Daniel. Thanks also for mentioning So Young, So Lovely, So Vicious, which is a disc I had forgotten about.
As for Monica, I sadly have no idea what is missing. Hopefully someone might chime in who knows.
Thanks again!