I have to say I love books about films almost as much as I like films themselves. I love stretching out on the lounge, feet up, beverage in one hand and a good book about cinema in the other. The contents of the book is important though: it has to be about an aspect of cinema I love, it has to cover a genre I love, it has to be informative while still having something to say, and any appearance of either hot chicks and/or boobs is a plus. The book will get bonus points if it mainly deals with cinema of the 60s, 70s or 80s. What makes a book hit the top of my list though is if it covers all of these things. Cinema Sex Sirens is one of these books... ok, it doesn't cover the 80s, but it fulfills all the other criteria, so that is good enough!
|Authors: Dave Worrall, Lee Pfeiffer
Publisher: Omnibus Press
Cinema Sex Sirens is written by Dave Worrall and Lee Pfeiffer, co producers of magazine and web site Cinema Retro, which celebrates the cinema of the 60s and 70s: their claim being that most of the best films ever made came from these decades. And who am I to argue? These gentlemen have also been responsible for other film related books, such as The Essential James Bond and The Great Fox War Movies, not to mention the fact that Worrell produced most of the documentaries on the James Bond film releases from MGM Home Entertainment.
This book, Cinema Sex Sirens, takes a look at the women present in films through the 60s and 70s, and how their sexuality evolved from the pin-up styles of earlier starlets like Betty Grable and Lana Turner and how these beautiful women were used as selling points for the film's success. These women are also a precursor to the 80s scream queens and beyond, but in general were a bit more demure and less likely to drop undies on screen. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I will point out that a gift is more exciting before it is unwrapped: it's that whole Schrodinger's Cat thing, I guess.
The cover has a beautiful selection of the women of this period and is styled in a classic, almost Brady Bunch, series of windows, featuring lovlies like Sophia Loren, Ann-Margret and Jane Fonda, and boldly claims an introduction by Sir Roger Moore. Remember him? He was one of the James Bonds'. Upon reading that doesn't really amount to much other than him claiming that he didn't sleep with most of the women he worked with, which is a shame when you consider some of the downright gorgeous things with which he shared a fake bed!
The authors introduce our ladies with a beautiful picture of Mad Men's Christina Hendricks, an example of how modern TV and cinema can still do voluptuous and demure when they want to, and discusses the lives of the studio employed star, and how they have become likes goddesses in comparison to the media whores of today, who are regularly seen in such gossip rags as Who and NW snorting cocaine off the back of some farm animal that they have just screwed for five dollars. It looks at how these women were taught grace, poise, deportment and etiquette and how everyday saw them dressed like they were at the Academy Awards, instead of picking their noses in sweatpants whilst buying pregnancy tests from a midnight to dawn convenience store.
The book is laid out in 3 main sections based on their locations, each which have an introduction, a series of bios on the bigger names of the subset, and a round-up of those who were still great, but not great enough to get their own full section due to how well known they were. The three sections are "Hollywood or Bust", which looks at the sirens of the Americas (like Raquel Welch, Angie Dickinson, and many others not to mention subsections on Russ Meyers Ladies, The Drives In Gals and the hard hitting babes of Blaxploitation); "The Continentals" which looks at the exciting euro babes likes Ursula Un-dress... I mean, Andress, Claudia Cardinale, Anita Ekberg (my favorite), Sylvia Kyrstal, and a subsection on Giallo Girls, and finally "Made In Britain: Brit Glamour", featuring Susan George, Valerie Leon, Caroline Munroe and of course, Ingrid Pitt (obviously the Hammer ladies could have a whole book just on their own, and they do in Marcus Hearn's Hammer Glamour, another must have for cinema beauty fans). There is also a final section called "Sex Sells: The Art of the Movie Poster" which is an interesting, albeit brief look at how cleavages and legs have been used to sell films.
This book is a great tome for those interested in the films of this era, and for Digital Retribution fans, ladies from Hammer Films, Corman films and Meyer films all are present in some way or another in this book. This book is photo heavy, which usually means 'light on text and information' but this book isn't! The authors share a great deal of information, even though they are really career and location overviews rather than in depth, hard hitting exposés of these actresses. I enjoyed this book, and will no doubt refer to it again.