15 February 2011 | lor_
Much tinkered with, but okay int'l sexploitation drama
Its authorship still undetermined over four decades later, FROM WOMAN TO WOMAN TO WOMAN emerges as a serviceable sex drama, typical of the polyglot international productions so popular (due to fancy financing schemes) in the '60s. Something Weird has revived it on video, with few takers if IMDb's lack of response is any indicator.
The AFI Catalog of Films 1961-1970 helped garble the credits here, claiming that Edward Dein, who gets a director's credit on screen, is merely a pseudonym for Italian filmmaker Ubaldo Ragona. This error has been wikipedia-like copied and promulgated ever since but is preposterous. Dein was a real American, working on many B movies in the '40s and later at Warner Bros. helming episodes of popular series like "Hawaiian Eye". Some Italian auteur slumming in America would not be eligible (DGA, folks) to work on episodic television under a phony name.
Dein is best remembered by me for directing Eric Fleming in the great B horror/western CURSE OF THE UNDEAD in 1959. Since FROM WOMAN is one of those U.S.-backed European shoots, my best guess is that he directed the movie, while local Ubaldo Ragona got some featherbedding credit, similar to the nonsensical credits (often escalated by ignoramuses to "co-director") Antonio Margheriti received for ANDY WARHOL'S Dracula and ANDY WARHOL'S FRANKENSTEIN, both clearly the work of Paul Morrissey and not the talented but completely different track Margheriti aka Anthony Dawson fellow.
If this confusion were not enough, the old-school producer William Rowland tinkered with this film, adding several softcore sex scenes for its 1968 revamped release as FROM WOMAN. Picture starts with two of these scenes (featuring '60s porn bombshell Marsha Jordan), sex below decks as our hero and his partner burglarize a yacht.
After punching out his partner, hero Dan Harrison ends up on a remote Italian island. With extremely poor continuity there's another fake sex insert thrown in before the film proper really gets going.
What unfolds is a sort of fable of colonialism, as the intruder (Harrison) invades, corrupts and exploits an idyllic couple, the beautiful Marisa Solanas (introduced in a topless scene) and her seemingly retarded pal Paco (well-played by German thesp Georg Hauke).
Harrison and Solanas fall in love and even marry, but the fable ends with him sailing away, leaving her forlorn in the surf, to be consoled by childlike Paco. The mix of crime, melodrama, sex, romance and pathos is fairly unusual, but after all this comes from a man who singlehandedly created the still rarely populated genre of the horror/Western.
Harrison is a familiar figure from Italian Westerns and before that sword & sandal pictures, and had the temerity to portray Friday in a lost Dick Randall sexploitationer THE EROTIC ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE. (Not to worry, this wasn't a homosexual adaptation, as beauties like Malisa Longo were written into the script as Tuesday and every other day of the week for RC.) Solinas also made many Italian Westerns, even BLINDMAN, after starting off starring in Mario Monicelli's segment of BOCCACCIO 70, unfortunately the section dropped from that portmanteau film for its hit U.S. release due to over-length.
The location photography, and excellent sets depicting Solinas' grotto-like home, are very effective, giving FROM WOMAN some texture. Even in its current adulterated state it is a moving-at-times worthwhile time killer.