Sunday, May 1, 2011

70'S FOCUS : THE STUD ... 1978 ...

JOAN COLLINS as Fontaine Khalad
SUE LLOYD as Vanessa Grant
MARK BURNS as Leonard Grant
WALTER GOTELL as Benjamin Khaled
PETER LUKAS as Ian Thane
PAT 'Bubbles' HARMSWORTH / Herself
 Assistant Director - Vincent Winter
     Director of Photography - Peter Hannan
       Original Music by Biddu
        Screenplay by Jackie Collins
         From The Novel 'The Stud' by Jackie Collins
           Edited by David Campling
             Executive Producer - Oscar Lerman
               Produced by Ronald S Kass
                  Directed by Quentin Masters

Tony Blake runs a fashionable nightclub 'Hobo'... For it's rich owners the Khaled's. For Tony, managing the club, is just one of his many talents, no one knows this better than Fontaine Khaled! Can Tony keep up the good work, keep his Lady Boss satisfied! When he sets his sights on the boss's daughter, he soon learns, it never pays to mix business with pleasure! It's tough been on top for The Stud!!
'The Stud', although rejected by most of the major studios, turned out to be the most successful films of 1978. It proved to be a turning point in Joan's career, putting her back on the entertainment map. Shot on a low budget, in three weeks, it made over ten million pounds, spawning a platinum selling album. It took Joan two years to get the project off the ground. But fate was on her side at the Cannes film festival, where she was promoting a film she detested 'Empire Of The Ants'. She met George Walker, who ran the successful Brent Walker film group in England, who thought the script had potential to make some money at the box office. The film was set to go into production with Welsh superstar Tom Jones in the title role. However Tom had second thoughts as he felt uncomfortable with the racier moments in the film. The role eventually went to Swiss born actor Oliver Tobias, who now seems perfect in the role. Oliver recalled...
" In those days films like 'The Stud', were a real eyeopener! The director and I reworked the script. Jackie Collins must have been delighted, because we gave it humour. I got on very well with Joan during filming. The Collins sisters are good sorts, very professional and hard working. Joan still works hard, but back then I did not know her from Adam. I admired her at that time. The role was her big comeback."

The film was based on Jackie's best selling novel, Joan was thrilled when Jackie agreed to give her the rights to film the book. Jackie's husband Oscar Lerman and Joan's then husband Ron Kass, were the film's producers. Jackie had hoped the film would be erotic as opposed to rude, she was more than surprised at the amount of nudity which ended up in the final cut. But she was delighted that the film was a hugh success and that it relaunched Joan's career. The film's co-star sixties siren Sue Lloyd recalled..
"Before I did 'The Stud' offers of work were beginning to flag, I was glad that I had a job on a friends silver stall in Portobello Road. Then out of the blue Joan rang me.  She was very excited about a project they were putting together. Apparently Jackie, who'd long since given up acting in favour of writing, had written a raunchy novel called 'The Stud' and Joan and Ron wanted to make it into a film. Joan was going to star in it and there would be a role for me if I was interested. But I didn't get too excited at that point. Making movies can be a very disappointing business, so many promising projects fizzle out long before they ever see the inside of a studio, let alone reach the big screen! Yet against all the odds the film materialized and went on to be the best selling British made film for many years. Joan became a bigger star than she'd ever been in her youth. Oliver Tobias, the 'Stud', went from previously almost unknown to major hearthrob. I  was suddenly flooded with film and TV offers. There was alot of nudity in 'The Stud', this did not worry me , I'd been going topless in the South of France for years. Joan however was uneasy about one major scene, in which she had to sit on a swing above a swimming pool, wearing nothing but black lace panties, stockings and suspenders. As the scene drew closer, I could see Joan getting more and more nervous. We were shooting at The Sanctuary, an exotic leisure club in London's Covent Garden, before the scene began, I took Joan around the local bars for a couple of relaxing drinks to loosen her up! However we were too wound up to eat, with all those hostelries, passer by's might have been surprised to notice two heavily made up women swaying alarmingly down the streets of Covent Garden in the middle of the afternoon! We must have looked like a couple of drunks, however the scene went off without a hitch, adding another sensational strand to the film. My own big pool scene was more tricky. I played Vanessa, rich, spoiled wife of my old real life mate Mark Burns. In the story Vanessa invites the 'Stud', to her sumptuous house in Paris. There she pushes him fully clothed into her pool, leaps in after him, tears his clothes off!
It sounded straightforward enough, but when I jumped into the pool, my false nails shot off. I also had a fear of water, the combination of the torrent of an ornamental waterfall overhead and my feet flailing helplessly in search of the bottom was too much. I began to panic. I gasped, swallowing mouthfuls of water. The director thought I was improvizing the heat of passion and kept the cameras rolling. It was only when I managed to gulp a lungful of air and yelled, ' Get me out of her!'. that he realised I was in trouble. I was whisked smoothly from the pool, but the dialogue was kept in! It was very realistic, they reckoned."
Although the public loved the film, as expected the critics were harsh....
" The Stud is an ugly, soft core, pornographic account of the rise and fall of a fancy man. It is illiterate and anti-erotic. The performances, Quentin Masters direction, the cinematography and editing are all amateurish!"
"If you miss one movie this year, make sure this is it! Joan Collins, debasing herself, as few actresses of substance have done, plays a London nightclub owner, who is tired of her rich, older husband, that she throws her clothes off whenever the title character even gets near the neighbourhood!"
Joan was used to harsh critics, but the hostile write ups in the Daily Mail annoyed her...
"I felt The Mail, had a personal vendetta against the picture. It's almost a dirty word in this country, to have success, to work for it. It took two years to get the project off the ground. I schlepped it around everybody I knew, including Lew Grade, Nat Cohen and Sam Arkoff of American International. I got turned down right, left and centre! They all thought it was too 60's-ish, that nobody would be interested in the story of a disco. Only Brent Walker had the foresight to see it was a commercial film. I believed it had something the public would enjoy, I thought it could make a fortune. That is why I agreed to do things I don't usually do in films! But dozens of actresses have taken off their clothes, Glenda Jackson and Mia Farrow, to name but two! Would the film have been such a success if I hadn't? Who knows!"
The film was one of the biggest selling video cassettes of the early 80's and most recently has done well on various DVD releases. It also has a great soundtrack of classic disco hits and original music by 70's hit producer Biddu. The album sold so well, Joan and Jackie were presented with platinum discs for high sales. A line of men's toiletries including a fragrance, were big sellers.. Certainly a film of it's time, but none the less a fun watch, with Joan on top form!
(c) 2011  Mark McMorrow...

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