Saturday, July 23, 2011

90'S FOCUS : DECADENCE ... 1994

MAYFAIR ENTERTAINMENT
Presents

 A CAPITOL FILMS RELEASE
DECADENCE
Starring
JOAN COLLINS as Helen / Sybil
STEVEN BERKOFF as Steve / Les
TERENCE BEESLEY as Givanni
With The Entourage
CHRISTOPHER BIGGINS
MICHAEL WINNER
MARC SINDEN
EDWARD DUKE
ROBERT LONGDON
DAVID ALDER
TIM DRY
IMOGEN BAIN
BILL DUNBAR
SUSSANAH MORLEY
VERONICA LANG
MATILDA ZIEGLER
HOLLYWOOD PREMIERE INVITE
Director of Photography - Denis Lenoir
 Art Director - Wilbert Vandrop / Ulli Hanisch
   Music by Stewart Copeland
    Screenplay by Steven Berkoff From his own Stage Play
      Edited by John Wilson
       Produced by Lance W Reynolds / Christopher Habnheiser
             Directed by Steven Berkoff
                                          ~~~~~~~
Helen is upper class, who is having an affair with Steve, who has attended the right schools and is married to Sybil, the daughter of an East End scrap merchant! However Sybil is aware of Steve's affair and is intent on revenge, to the point of hiring Les, an East End private investigator, to follow his every move. Sybil starts an affair with Les, her plot to destroy Steve thickens! Will Helen and Steve survive to continue their decadent lifestyle? Will Sybil finally get her jealous revenge? Will Les overthrow the upper classes? Degenerate.. Disgusting.. Deliciously Funny! It's pure Decadence!!
 (c) 1994 CAPITOL FILMS  116 MINS   COLOUR ...
Steven Berkoff adapted his popular stage play into this highly entertaining film in which he co-stars with Joan to make a memorable pairing. Steven's regular theatre partner Linda Marlowe was his first choice to play the lead role, as she had on stage, however the producers insisted on a more starrier name. Helen Mirren and Miranda Richardson were in the frame, but were rejected, with Diana Rigg turning down the film.. Steven had also sent the scripts to several actresses whom he thought might be suitable, however many of them refused to read the script or in some cases, couldn't read it! Joan was also a little reluctant at first about it as she found the dialogue a little salty and the rhyming slang dialogue hard to master. Steven however read through the script with her at her Belgravia flat, finally persuading her to do it.

JOAN IN THE FASHION SCENE
Steven recalled....
" Joan filtered through my mind when I wrote it. I wanted someone with extraordinary sexual powers, enormous magnetism. The character I created was of such an exotic nature, a bizarre combination of a woman who was very arrogant, very elegant, someone who was accustomed to this life. Joan was one of the very few actresses you might find hanging about in England who I felt could play Helen, she did it so well, the film is a remarkable tribute to her talent."
Joan is exceptional in the dual roles of Helen and Sybil, as she goes from elegant to tawdry.. She found it difficult at times working with Berkoff, who incidentally co-starred with her in the lavish 1985 mini-series 'Sins'. But she did admire him as an actor and had only good things to say about him...
"When Steven asked me to do the part, I was taken aback when I read the script. I thought it would be terribly difficult to do and I did not see myself in it. But after Steven came to my flat and read through it with me, I got an inkling of how it could work. He is an enormous genius. I think a great many actresses in England would give their eye tooth to do this part. I am just a jobbing actress who takes on parts I like!"

JOAN AS HELEN IN THE FASHION SCENE
The film had a budget of £1.3 million and was financed by money from Germany and Luxembourg. It was shot in Luxembourg at a small studio in Cheam. It was so compact that filming had to be halted anytime it rained, as the rain drummed on the corrugated roof and even nearby construction work played havoc with the soundtrack! Filming was also done at an old RAF hanger near Dusseldorf. Joan was happy with the finished film and commented.

"In general, the material I've had as an actress had not been very good throughout my entire career. That is why I am happy with 'Decadence', because the material is there and I do a pretty good job with it. But I do have a certain pride in that I started as a teenager and I'm still working. I can't really think of many actors or actresses that have done that. It's something that I am not given a lot of kudos for."

UK VIDEO SLEEVE
'Decadence' was not a commercial success as it was labelled an art house film. But it did get a release in the USA, although the American release was considerably shorter than the original cut. Originally running almost two hours, it was shortened to eighty eight minutes.. The full version was available as a video release from Curzon Films in the 90's.. Although not available for years, Steven Berkoff recently approved a DVD release through his own website, given viewers a chance to see this unique and most watchable production..
 DVD RELEASE COVER
The recent dvd release issued by Steven Berkoff's East Productions is the shorter American print.. Check out http://www.stevenberkoff.com/ to order it....Well worth seeking out!

(c) 2011  Mark McMorrow...

3 comments:

  1. The aspect ratio of Decadence DVD is 4:3, not good for viewing though.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi mark,
    Is it possible to find the original uncut version nowadays?

    ReplyDelete