The Films of Patricia Gozzi: An Exhibition of Vintage Movie Posters from the 1960s

By Charles H. Meyer

This April at Volta Coffee, Tea & Chocolate here in Gainesville, I am curating “The Films of Patricia Gozzi: An Exhibition of Vintage Movie Posters” to celebrate both the art of the classic movie poster and the career of an unjustly forgotten French film actress. The exhibition will include a selection of posters and other movie memorabilia from France, Germany, Japan, the United States, and Uruguay.

Gozzi acted in only seven films over the course of eleven years, from 1960 to 1970, after which she left the cinema. By far her most famous role was as the title character in “Sundays and Cybèle” (Serge Bourguignon, 1962), which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1962. In that film, Gozzi portrays a twelve-year-old girl abandoned by her father at an orphanage in a small town, where she is befriended by an amnesiac bomber pilot played by the German actor Hardy Krüger. Her performance, widely praised even by critics who were otherwise unimpressed with the film, got the attention of legendary 20th Century Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck, who cast her in her next film, “Rapture” (John Guillermin, 1965), opposite Dean Stockwell, Melvyn Douglas, and Gunnel Lindblom, in which she plays a creative and intelligent, but emotionally abused, and thus developmentally stunted fifteen-year old named Agnès who falls in love with twenty-eight-year-old Joseph, a fugitive from the law who is, however, a victim of circumstance. “Sundays and Cybèle” and “Rapture” are both wonderful films in large part due to their exceptional casts, stunning settings, effective cinematography, and gorgeous musical scores.

Unfortunately, these films, along with the five others in which Gozzi acted, are rarely shown and difficult to acquire in any home viewing format. None of Gozzi’s films have ever been released in this country on DVD, while only two—“Sundays and Cybèle” and “Léon Morin, Priest” (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1961)—have ever appeared on VHS and are now long out of print. Fortunately, both of those films, as well as a third—“Recours en grâce” (Laslo Benedek, 1960)—are readily available in Europe (and by mail through Amazon.com’s foreign affiliates) on quality, region-2 DVDs, viewable stateside by anyone with a region-free player. A fourth film, the previously mentioned “Rapture,” occasionally airs on television and is viewable in its entirety on YouTube. “Quai Notre-Dame” (Jacques Berthier, 1960), “Hung Up” (Édouard Luntz, 1968) and “A Hostage” (Marcel Cravenne, 1970), however, remain sadly unavailable in any consumer format.

For a devoted cinema fan like I am, the fact that many wonderful old films have never been released on either VHS or DVD, particularly in this age of ever-increasing accessibility, is continually frustrating. There are dozens of films that I’d love to see but that might take years or even decades to become available. My interest in these films is piqued when I read about them in books, in magazines, and on the Internet, where, for instance, the Internet Movie Database (www.IMDb.com) provides information on thousands of films lost, destroyed, or still hidden away in archives. Short of actually seeing these films, one of the only ways to experience them is through their promotional materials, which are often, ironically, much easier to come by than the films themselves. Such has been the case, I have found, with many of the films of Patricia Gozzi.

About fifteen years ago, I saw “Sundays and Cybèle” on television and was immediately taken with the actors’ intense and emotional but at the same time subtle performances, complemented perfectly by Henri Decaë’s inventive cinematography and Maurice Jarre’s melancholy score. This chance viewing affected me so strongly that I even began studying French so that I could appreciate “Sundays and Cybèle” without subtitles. Eventually, I acquired a VHS copy of the film and started sharing it with friends.

But my interest expanded from “Sundays and Cybèle” to Patricia Gozzi’s other films about eleven years ago when an art history professor of mine lent me his VHS copy of “Rapture,” which he had taped from television. I enjoyed it as much as “Sundays and Cybèle,” and for essentially the same reasons: both films were poignant, tragic dramas set in beautiful scenic locations, starred fascinating and skilled actors, featured exquisite black-and-white cinematography, and had wonderful musical scores.

A few years later, I began acquiring film stills and other ephemera promoting “Sundays and Cybèle” and “Rapture.” It was partly through finding Gozzi-related promotional materials that I also became aware of her other films, particularly “Hung Up,” the third and final film in which she played the central role. In that film she portrays a girl named Dina who fantasizes that she is the leader of a gang of hoodlums in order to escape, at least in her imagination, from her wealthy parents, who are planning to marry her off against her will to a man she does not love. Together, “Sundays and Cybèle,” “Rapture” and “Hung Up” seem to form a loose coming-of-age trilogy about the role imagination and fantasy play in growing up and confronting the difficult realities of adulthood. It would be great to see the three films in succession. But “Hung Up” was never released in the United States because Darryl F. Zanuck was “shocked by its anti-bourgeois violence.” In more recent years, a rumor has circulated that the director of “Hung Up,” the late Édouard Luntz (1931-2009), destroyed the film’s negative. But at least one or two prints seem to have survived, and it may not be too long before the film is released on DVD, at least in France, as “Hollywood sur Seine,” a documentary about the making of the film, is airing this month on French television.

My relationship to “Hung Up” has so far resembled that of an archaeologist excavating a lost city. Occasionally I unearth a new artifact, such as a poster from Uruguay, a set of lobby cards from France, or a magazine from England featuring an article on the making of the film. Each new discovery is thrilling and sometimes illuminating. As the various items accumulate to comprise an archive of materials, valuable to me both as objects and as information, they come to form an ever-more-vivid static approximation of the film. My only worry is that when I finally see the real “Hung Up,” it will pale next to the film that my imagination has pieced together out of so many miscellaneous fragments. For now, I derive a certain pleasure from being in the dark about the film, especially considering that its mysteries will surely be solved once “Hollywood sur Seine” airs.

In preparation for this April’s exhibition at Volta, I continue to seek out what my friend Michael Rawls cleverly terms “Gozziana.” Many of my finds are of a high quality, such as a large woodblock-print-style Japanese poster for “Rapture,” a 35mm print of the trailer for “Sundays and Cybèle” and a lobby card for “Hung Up” showing Gozzi desperately clutching a primitive wooden statuette. Other finds, such as a few mediocre production stills and a poorly designed Belgian poster for “Rapture,” have only remained in my possession for the sake of maintaining as complete a collection as possible. Rest assured that such curiosities will not appear in the exhibition.

Although my collection of Gozziana has grown considerably over the last few years, there are a number of wonderful items that I still hope to find but that might take a while to track down, such as a set of brightly colored Spanish lobby cards for “Sundays and Cybèle” and a midnight blue Polish poster for the same film depicting a French policeman with a gun. In the unlikely event that in the next few weeks I manage to acquire these rare treasures, they will definitely appear in the forthcoming exhibition.

“The Films of Patricia Gozzi: An Exhibition of Vintage Movie Posters” will be on display at Volta Coffee, Tea & Chocolate throughout the month of April. The exhibition is free and open to the public. A reception is set to take place on Friday, April 1, from 7 to 9 P.M., and a free screening at Volta of “Sundays and Cybèle” is scheduled for Saturday, April 16, at 9 P.M.

Exhibition Photos

Gozzi at Volta 17
Gozzi at Volta 16
Gozzi at Volta 15
Gozzi at Volta 14
Gozzi at Volta 13
Gozzi at Volta 12
Gozzi at Volta 11
Gozzi at Volta 10
Gozzi at Volta 09
Gozzi at Volta 08
Gozzi at Volta 07
Gozzi at Volta 01
Gozzi at Volta 06
Gozzi at Volta 05
Gozzi at Volta 04
Gozzi at Volta 03
Gozzi at Volta 02



 


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Publications



"Ratting Out Big Tobacco." Cinespect. December 12, 2011.

"House of Pain." Cinespect. December 10, 2011.

"Rediscovering the French New Wave." Cinespect. December 5, 2011.

"Fifteen Minutes with You." Cinespect. November 21, 2011.

"Silent Cinema Reborn." Cinespect. November 21, 2011.

"See You Next Year: SFF Journal, Entry Fourteen." Cinespect. November 15, 2011.

"Paterfamilias in a Pinch." Cinespect. November 15, 2011.

"The Work of Love: SFF Journal, Entry Thirteen." Cinespect. November 14, 2011.

"The Duplass Era: SFF Journal, Entry Twelve." Cinespect. November 12, 2011.

"End of Story." Cinespect. November 11, 2011.

"Down into Hatch: SFF Journal, Entry Eleven." Cinespect. November 9, 2011.

"Mooring as Metaphor: SFF Journal, Entry Ten." Cinespect. November 9, 2011.

"Electrate Youth: SFF Journal, Entry Nine." Cinespect. November 7, 2011.

"Spread the Word: SFF Journal, Entry Eight." Cinespect. November 6, 2011.

"Arch Madness: SFF Journal, Entry Seven." Cinespect. November 3, 2011.

"Eau Crap: SFF Journal, Entry Six." Cinespect. November 2, 2011.

"The Wrath of Ralph: SFF Journal, Entry Five." Cinespect. November 1, 2011.

"Unbearable Brightness: SFF Journal, Entry Four." Cinespect. November 1, 2011.

"Wedding Bell Blues: SFF Journal, Entry Three." Cinespect. October 31, 2011.

"The Dueling Life: SFF Journal, Entry Two." Cinespect. October 31, 2011.

"Homeward Bound: SFF Journal, Entry One." Cinespect. October 28, 2011.

"Yawning at the Margin." Cinespect. October 20, 2011.

Film reviews of "Corman's World," "Goodbye First Love," "The Artist," and "The Descendants." Cinespect. October 14, 2011.

"Forget 'The Way.'" Cinespect. October 7, 2011.

"Pop Marx." Cinespect. October 5, 2011.

Film review of "Carnage." Cinespect. September 30, 2011.

"Baking Pans for Nigel." Cinespect. September 26, 2011.

"Cabin Fever Dream." Cinespect. September 22, 2011.

"There and Back Again." Cinespect. September 9, 2011.

"The Kid's Not All Right." Cinespect. September 2, 2011.

"Tokyo, Mon Amour." Cinespect. August 26, 2011.

"Cinespect's Guide to 'William Lustig Presents.'" Cinespect. July 15, 2011.

"Q&A with Filmmaker and Anthology Film Archives Guest Curator William Lustig." Cinespect. July 12, 2011.

"Got Freedom?" Cinespect. July 7, 2011.

"Against All Odds." Cinespect. June 23, 2011.

"A Filmable Feast." Cinespect. May 19, 2011.

"Double Trouble: Cannes Journal, Entry Five." Cinespect. May 18, 2011.

"Childhood's End, Part Two: Cannes Journal, Entry Four." Cinespect. May 14, 2011.

"Childhood's End, Part One: Cannes Journal, Entry Three." Cinespect. May 13, 2011.

"Fairy Tales for Adults: Cannes Journal, Entry Two." Cinespect. May 12, 2011.

"Setting the Scene: Cannes Journal, Entry One." Cinespect. May 11, 2011.

"The Insane Natural: An Unconscious Film Trilogy." Cinespect. February 23, 2011.

"Cubicle Rebellion, or Three Ordinary Guys with Nothing to Lose: An Unconscious Film Trilogy." Cinespect. February 7, 2011.

"The Elusive but Wonderful Films of Patricia Gozzi." Cinespect. February 4, 2011.

“La bicyclette bleue: A Gainesville-Paris Research Project.” The Satellite. Vol. 7, No. 11: November 5, 2008. pp. 14-15.

“Punch-Drunk Cinéphilia: A Review of Evan McIntyre’s Paintings at Sharab Lounge.” The Fine Print. Vol. 1, No. 3: November/December 2008. p. 10.

“Urine, Feces, and Art: A Urinary/Intestinal/Historical Tract.” The Satellite. Vol. 7, No. 9: September 3, 2008. pp. 22-23.

“The Persistence of Cookie Tins: A Review of John Patterson’s Collages at Volta Coffee.” The Satellite. Vol. 7, No. 7: July 2, 2008. pp. 15 & 21.