Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Last Harem

George Lazenby was in two Italian giallos, one in 1972 and (this) one in 1981. Where Aldo Lado's Who Saw Her Die? (1972), is a great stylish thriller, The Last Harem's mysteries take a back seat to the erotic elements. Relying more on sexploitation elements (with soft focus shots), The Last Harem clearly is geared for the late night cinemax viewing. Interestingly, both Who Saw Her Die? and The Last Harem contain actors from previous James Bond films (Thunderball's Adolfo Celi and Moonraker's Corinne Clery). George Lazenby is Prince Almalarik, heir of some oil fields who seems to have the last remaining harem (of discontent wives). After marrying Sara (the stunning Corinne Clery), Prince Almalarik decides to give up his harem for one woman. Yet these wives refuse to give up that easily and one (mysteriously) kills Sara. From this point on the film becomes a series of flashbacks as Almalarik buries his dead wife in the sand dunes. He has vowed to punish all the wives unless the killer confesses. While he is gone, the wives wax poetic about their origins of arrival to the harem. Lots of romancing and nudity follow as old Almalarik chases after women, gathering everything he wants like a spoiled Prince. The endings twist is an unsurprising event, yet creepily downbeat. Lazenby is sporting his trademark 70s mustache and actually is quite effective in what is really on- dimensional role. Unfortunately (like his other giallo), Lazenby's voice is dubbed, which distracts from his performance greatly. Director Sergio Garrone had previously helped pen the cool giallo Death Knocks Twice, but in this film he seems to have gone a little lazy. There are however some nice shots to be found, for I like when (wife #4) Laura's (Daniela Poggi) arrival, with the burning oil fields for-shadows her doomed hellish imprisonment. At times the music soundtrack has some nice moments as well, in a typical surreal Italian manner. This by no means a great film, but I have to admit that it held my interest.

Trivia: When I met George Lazenby I asked him about this film, and as soon as I mentioned it, he made a pretty sour face. He apologized by saying he was drinking a lot at the time. I told him I liked it, and he looked at me very suspiciously. After pestering him a little, he told me the story of how he got into a fight with Arnold Schwarzenegger (who was filming Conan, the Barbarian in Spain at the very same time)!!! Apparently, Arnold was staying at the same hotel and said something to Lazenby, who responded with "F--- Off!" Arnold attacked Lazenby in the elevator, and I didn't even want to ask who won that one. It was very strange story that he shared with me, but I was happy that he did!

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