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Barbarella's in TOWN
I’ve probably mentioned it before, but in case I didn’t, I am a collector of vintage magazines and movie stills, and I’ve managed to acquire quite a few over the years.
One of my favorite quirky films is Barbarella, for which I have many photographic stills and magazines featuring Jane Fonda in the titular role. It has a totally bonkers story but visually it's pretty unique, and completely of its time. I remember first reading about it in Photoplay film magazine when I was a teenager. My uncle Bill had a workshop next to a print house, and he’d often be given magazines by the printer that he’d pass on to me. Photoplay was one of these, and there was a small black and white photo from Barbarella accompanied by a reader’s letter. I’d never heard of it before, and being a fan of Fonda and of course, SF, I immediately found myself wanting to see it, but knowing that I’d have to wait until it was shown on TV. In these days of instant accessibility it seems ridiculous to recall just how long we’d have to wait to see a film, and the constant checking of the TV listings for fear of missing this and other intriguing movie titles became a bit of a ritual.
The other factor of course was that there was absolutely no way to 'keep' a film and watch it later. There were no video recorders and heaven forbid if my parents wanted to watch something on the other channel at the same time! Anyhow, as it so happened, it did finally show up in the listings and it was on so late that my folks had gone to bed anyway.
I had my SLR camera set up on a tripod with the shutter speed set at 1/15th of a second to avoid any diagonal TV scan lines, a tried and trusted method. I also had a cassette player to record the music soundtrack which I'd heard was a good one. I did actually manage to get some pretty good shots, considering there was no replay, and the soundtrack, well, I've always liked it, and its one of those that has been heavily sampled over the years by the likes of Dimitri from Paris and others.
A couple of years after the tv screening and by chance, I was lucky enough to discover a massive photo album of original black & white on-set bromide prints in a little back-yard movie memorabilia shop just down the road from where I lived in Carshalton, Surrey. They were pretty expensive for a teenager who was earning his money working after school in the local supermarket, and I kick myself now for not asking my father for a loan to buy what would now be worth an absolute fortune. I did however manage to buy a few of the prime shots, and I have never seen them in print or on the internet since. One day I’ll scan them when I retrieve them from my flat in London...
Meanwhile, I’m sure this is a rarity. I scanned this from a medium format original transparency that I bought at a movie memorabilia fair many moons ago. Unfortunately there was no photographer credit, but maybe it’s something that the costume department would have kept a record of. This same actor and her costume can be seen in the 68/274 lobby card above.
My Barbarella book featuring the French science fiction comic series (bande dessinée) created by Jean-Claude Forest. This one’s from 1966. I know it's that old 'cause it has a sticker for 12 Shillings & Sixpence (12/6) on the back, plus of course its aged yellowing cover.
Here's a slightly battered looking copy of Penthouse that I bought from a flea market a few years ago. This photograph is also by David Hurn. It transpires that Hurn spent nine months documenting Fonda and her then husband and Director, Roger Vadim while they made Barbarella. If you want to see more of the photographs by this terrific Magnum affiliated photographer, there’s a link to the website here.
A while ago, Nick Setchfield of SFX magazine sent me the link to the unused Barbarella theme, sung by Jackie Lee of White Horses fame (thanks, Nick!). Here's the original title sequence to Barbarella, but with Jackie Lee's version of the theme song. She's written an interesting story about how and why it didn't make the final cut on her own YouTube channel.
And below, the actual title sequence from the film in HD.
I was after the soundtrack for the film for many years. Richard Burton (The Burt Droid) at 2000 AD had given me a copy of his own album on cassette, which was great, but I really wanted the actual vinyl, which at the time was pretty rare, and probably still is. Then one day, John Tomlinson who I was also working with in the Command Module, surprised me with a pristine condition copy of the album as a gift. Diamond Geezer!!! - I have no idea how or where he found it, but I am forever grateful.
Here is a detail of the album cover (mainly because I can't fit the whole thing in the scanner!) with art by the legendary, Robert McGinnis.
I thought I’d scanned a copy of my own Barbarella film poster that I bought in Holland, but I can’t find it, so here’s one that I wish I had. The Czech poster by Kája Saudek, featuring Jane Fondova!!!
This one is by Tim Hildebrandt. A poster for the re-release of the film in 1979.
And last but not least, my very own framed edition of LIFE from 1968, featuring another of David Hurn’s superb studio photographs. If you so desire, this edition is pretty easy to find on eBay, and fairly inexpensive depending on the condition of course. A quick search and I already found 50 copies for sale on there!
Barbarella © The Paramount Pictures Corporation
So that was Barbarella, Psychedella! Thanks for checking it out. Spread the word… subs are free!