Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Devil Came from Akasava (Jess Franco, 1971)

Have you ever thought about what kind of damage I could do if I was given unlimited access to Soledad Miranda's buttery stems for a week and a half? No, I haven't, and you wanna know why? Because no-one cares, you sniveling little pervert! Well, the first thing I would do is sheath them in the daintiest pair of black stockings money can buy (in fact, I want them to be so dainty, that you'll need a magnifying glass just to be able to fully comprehend the amount of craftmenship that went into making them so fucking dainty), then I would take my tongue–while it was still attached to the inside part of my mouth (don't worry, I'm not one of those weirdos who walks around with their tongue on the end of a skewer)–and proceed to slather her nylon-encased...Hey, man, didn't you hear me? I thought I said no-one cares? Oh, right. Yeah, I heard what you said, and, as you can clearly see, I've chosen to ignore you. Besides, everyone is dying to know what I would do to Soledad Miranda's legs if I was given leg-based carte blanche, so why don't you go urinate in a place that is far away from where I currently reside? In case you haven't figured it out yet, it's that time of year again when the mind-altering gorgeousness of Soledad Miranda (Eugénie de Sade) is placed in front of me, and, like clockwork, I'm quickly reduced to a blithering mound of heterosexual ineptitude. Every time I sit down to watch a Jess Franco film, I think to myself: Why can't every movie be directed by Jess Franco and have Soledad Miranda and/or Lina Romay as its leading lady? Seriously, why do other movies even bother to exist? If you think about it, the Jess Franco aesthetic is the epitome of cinematic perfection, as each film contains all the elements necessary to provide my body with the nourishment it needs to sustain an unhealthy lifestyle. Sure, there were instances when The Devil Came from Akasava, a film where British people speak German fluently, left me feeling a tad sluggish, but for the most part the kooky spy thriller checked most of the stylistic boxes I wanted it to check.

A convoluted tale about a bunch of spies doing a bunch of spy shit in exotic locations, the film could be seen as a veiled screenwriting exercise on how to fill-in the gaps between the scenes that feature the beautiful Soledad Miranda behaving in an excessively leggy manner. From where I was sitting, anything that didn't involve Soledad Miranda lounging while leggy, holding a gun while leggy, or performing tasteful nightclub stripteases while leggy, was–to be blunt–a colossal waste of time. It's true, the script does manage to squeeze some of Soledad Miranda's legginess into the plot on occasion, but the film has way too many scenes involving middle-aged-to-elderly men plotting and scheming over the ownership this stone that can apparently turn everyday items into gold.

Gold, eh? Yep. Gold! The film opens with a guy poking around inside a cave located in what I assume is Akasava. Wearing one of them silver fireproof suits and wielding a portable geiger counter, he comes across this weird chunk of rock, one that makes his portable gadget go haywire. As he's removing the shiny stone–which he has since placed in a silver briefcase–from the cave, he's shot by an unknown assailant. Staggering to his car, his chauffeur manages to get the wounded spelunker and the magic stone back to the professor's lab. Since the professor, the esteemed Professor Forrester, doesn't know anything about treating gunshot wounds, he's a mineralogist, not a doctor, he travels to see his doctor friends, Dr. Thorrsen (Horst Tappert) and Dr. Ingrid Thorrsen (Ewa Strömberg), to ask them to help his bleeding assistant.

Great plan, but who's keeping an eye on the stone, Einstein? Don't worry, he tells the unnamed guy sitting in a chair to watch over things while he's away. Well, it's turns out, the guy in the chair is not most reliable person in the world, and the stone is gone when the professor gets back. And not only that, he's assistant is dead, and soon afterward the professor himself goes missing.

The action quickly moves to swinging London, at least I think it still swinging. There we find Sir Philip (Siegfried Schürenberg) talking to a bunch of police types about a murder that took place in Professor Forrester's office. Apparently a spy was stabbed while snooping around the other night. While all this scheming is mildly intriguing, I wanna see Soledad Miranda acting leggy, and I wanna see her now. Be patient, I'm sure she'll be along any second now. She better be. I mean, if it hadn't been for the killer music of Manfred Hübler and Siegfried Schwab, I would have thrown a full-on, breakfast cereal aisle-quality hissy fit.

Okay, shut up, here we go. The guy played by Siegfried Schürenberg is walking into a bordello called "Chez Jackie," and get this, he's asking for a woman named Jane. Yeah, that's right. Jane! Call me supercilious, but I have a hunch that "Jane" is the name of Soledad Miranda's character in The Devil Came from Akasava universe. Yes! It might have taken seventeen minutes, but we have Soledad Miranda. And I don't now 'bout you, but my aura is glowing like a gay pride flag fluttering in tattered defiance outside an abandoned dildo factory that used to manufacture dildos for the blind.  

Standing by the window wearing green crochet number, Soledad Miranda's Jane Morgan, the world's leggiest secret agent, greets Sir Philip with a seductive smile. Chatting about, oh, let's say, finding Professor Forrester, Soledad dives on the bed and sets in motion the film's second leggy moment.

Whoa, what do you mean, "second leggy moment"?!? When did the first occur? Yeah, I meant to tell you, but in an earlier scene, a sex worker named Tinkerbelle can be seen lounging in a leg-friendly manner near the Chez Jackie jukebox, so, technically, Tinkerbelle is the first to be leggy in this particular film. 

At any rate, getting back to Soledad Miranda's legginess, like I said, she dives on the bed and bends her legs to reveal that she's wearing a pair of silver knee-high gladiator-style sandals.

There no legs on display during the next couple of scenes, but Soledad does wear a green Indian-style top with a pair of white trousers while snooping around the airport.

Greeted in Mombosa by "Tino" (Jess Franco), a greasy fella with a mustache, Rex Forrester (Fred Williams), a man who claims to be Professor Forrester's nephew, shares a car ride with Jane Morgan (who tells him she's a dancer), and eventually a boat ride to their hotel. It would seem that Rex and Jane's rooms are right across from one another; how convenient. It would also seem that there all, including Jane's partner Irving Lambert (Alberto Dalbés), looking for a mineralogist who went missing in Akasava.

In order to prove to everyone that she is in fact a dancer, Jane Morgan performs her signature number at the Red Rose, Mombosa's hottest night club. As Rex and Tino sit at the bar, the former wearing a white suit and chomping on a cigar, Soledad Miranda is on stage straddling a red chair. Sporting a dress that looks it was made from loose strands of black cassette tape, and, of course, wearing her trademark silver knee-high gladiator-style sandals, Soledad wows the audience with her seated dance number. You heard right, she did the whole thing sitting down. You see, when you're look like Soledad Miranda, you don't need to particularly good at anything to win over the minds and crotches of others. After she's finished, she flirts with Rex and tells Tino that she hates hair gel. 

Meanwhile, Lambert is fighting an unruly assassin (the worst kind of assassins are the unruly variety) in his hotel room while wearing a pair of red jeans (I do love red jeans on European men). Luckily, Soledad's Jane comes along just in time to shoot the bald killer in the head. Now, if you're one of those people who thinks Soledad Miranda might lose some of her chic appeal while doing something a mundane as disposing of an unwanted corpse, think again. If anything, Soledad somehow manages to increase her jauntiness while moving a dead body. It doesn't hurt that she is wearing a short black sequined dress with black nylons, as even the blandest of individuals will notice a slight upswing in their chicness while wearing an outfit like that.

Wrapped in a towel and smoking a cigarette, Soledad Miranda proves yet again that she can make any look seem cool. Why is she eavesdropping on a conversation between Lambert and Tino while wearing a towel? At this point, it doesn't matter, because her second show down at the Red Rose is about to commence. Featuring the fiercest leg cross in cinematic history (she literally smashes her right leg on top of her left), Soledad does this number mostly on her back and stomach, which gave us some great shots of her shapely legs and smooth buttocks. Getting back to the leg cross for a moment. It's true, the reason the leg cross was so fierce had a lot to do with Soledad's confidence as a performer. But you can't discount the affect that a pair of silver knee-high gladiator-style sandals can bring to the sight of a leg being crossed. You'd be a fool to discount them, and I ain't no fool, especially when it comes to gauging the impact made by irregular footwear in a nightclub environment.

The film's best Soledad Miranda leg moment takes place when the action returns to London; you know the film is winding down when Jess Franco regulars like, Howard Vernon and Paul Muller show up as a shady characters. Standing in her hotel room holding a pistol, Soledad is filmed from behind at a leg-friendly angle. What's great about this scene–you know, besides the obvious–is that Jane Morgan decided to pack her silver knee-high gladiator-style sandals; in fact, I bet she takes them wherever she goes. Boasting four straps, we get our best rear view of the sandals during this encounter, as the camera seems to linger on them for an extended period of time.
I don't know who you are, but I dig the way you lounge.     

While Dr. Thorrsen and his wife are drinking in Soledad's fabulousness at the Red Rose (her eyes seem to stare right through you), Lambert and Tino are investigating a mysterious laboratory out in the jungle. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, this a spy thriller, not a fashion show. Actually, it's a bit of both. And since we're almost near the end, I can safely say that I much prefer the latter. Don't get me wrong, I dug all the kooky espionage stuff, it's just that I would rather watch Soledad Miranda dance, well, sort of dance. Let me rephrase that, I would rather watch Soledad Miranda writhe around on stage in a nightclub setting than, say, watch Jess Franco sneak about in a white fedora. It's no brainer if you think about it. Anyway, The Devil Came from Akasava is a whimsical spy farce that will not only satisfy fans of Jess Franco's earlier, less sleazy films, but all the sane individuals out there who are in love with Soledad Miranda, one of the most beautiful people to walk the face of the earth.

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  1. "Have you ever thought about what kind of damage I could do if I was given unlimited access to Soledad Miranda's buttery stems for a week and a half?"

    Yes, yes I have.

    I'm going to watch "Eugénie de Sade" tonight. Not sure if I'll make it through in one piece.

  2. Good luck making it through the leggy morass that is Eugénie de Sade. :)

  3. Franco madness!

    Soledad has a small role as Burt Reynold's naked girlfriend in the western 100 Rifles. I will make a note to share this nudity with the world.

    P.S. Tomorrow night I should be posting Gisele Lindley's OTHER nude scene (not Forbidden Zone) and another cool thing. Make sure you look for it. If you don't, you will die incomplete, and that would be sad.

  4. @Thomas Duke: Soledad looks like a golden goddess that Burt flick.

    Funny, I was just thinking about Gisele Lindley. Oh, who am I kidding? I'm always thinking about Gisele Lindley from the Forbidden Zone.

    Tomorrow, you say? Thanks for the heads up (no pun intended).