The Amazing Career of Michel Lemoine (while waiting for the interview, part 2)
Posted by: Frederick Durand , 11/22/2001, 16:47:18
Thanks to all those who emailed me or wrote on the MB to say they appreciated the 1st part of the Michel Lemoine interview. Parts 2 & 3 will be following soon.
Here's a short presentation text I wrote about him a few years ago... Stay tune for the forthcoming end of interview. I'll soon post a nice talk I had with Jean Rollin + (maybe) an interview with Dardano Sacchetti.
The Fantastique Career of Michel Lemoine
by Frédérick Durand
The following filmobiography is partially based on Norbert Moutier's excellent work for his special Michel Lemoine issue of his fanzine Monster bis.
Michel started his career by acting in the theatres, with plays like Of Mice and Men, The Rope... His first cinematic apparition was in Sacha Guitry's Le diable boîteux (1948). From then, he starred in a lot of french productions, including Les aventuriers de l'air (1949), Vol avec extractions (1951), Milord l'arsouille (1955)...
He had one of his most popular roles in Francesco de Feo's 1961 La Vendetta del maschera di fero (I don't know the english title of the film. A translation would be Revenge of the Iron Mask)... The career of Michel would afterwards oscillate between the fantastique and the oniric eroticism.
Louis Soulane's 1961 Des filles sèment le vent was one of the first « sexy » films in France, along with José Bénazéraf's 1962 L'éternité pour nous/Le cri de la chair/Sin on the Beach. In 1962, Michel starred as the incredible alien in one of his most popular films, Romano Ferrara's I Pianetti Contro di Mio/Planets against us... He acted again for Bénazéraf in 1963's Concerto de la peur/La Drogue du Vice/Night of Lust, an anarchic mixture of intellectualism, eroticism, thriller and romantic drama... (The english version of that film was unfortunately modified, with added US inserts). Michel even starred in peplums, like Giorgio Ferroni's Ercole Contro Moloch (with a young Rosalba Neri)...
The other films definitely paved the way to the fantastique : Delitto Allo Specchio/Sex Party, (a giallo), Mario Bava's Arizona Bill, Antonio Margheriti's I Diafanoidi vengono da marte/The Deadly Diphanoids and I Criminali della galassia/Wild Wild Planet...
Shortly after this, he starred in one of Jess Franco's best films, Necronomicon... It was followed by a french western, Une corde, un colt, directed by Robert "Wax Mask" Hossein, with Michèle "Web of the spider/Angélique" Mercier. Michel was also impressive in Franco's Sadisterotica, as Morpho, and in Kiss me Monster as the mysterious Doctor Bertrand... He starred in Hoven's Castle of the Creeping Flesh (where the tension of his character is so intense you could swear at each shot he is going to explode very soon) and Party Mit Dem Todt... Then he directed his first film, How Short is the Time to Love, starring Janine Reynaud, co-written by Jean-François Davy, who directed La débauche in 1969, in which Michel Lemoine can be seen.
Michel was in an anthology titled L'appel in 1969, and in a late 1969 peplum, Il Ritorno del gladiatore il piu forte del mondo.
1970 opened a new era for more numerous erotic films, with Max Pecas' Je suis une nymphomane, starring Sandra Julien (seen in Rollin's Thrill of the Vampires) and Bénazéraf's Frustration/The Trip to Perversion/Frustrated Woman.
In 1972, Michel starred in an amazing Jean-François Davy film, Le Seuil du vide/Threshold of the Void, a sadly underrated fantastique film... Afterwards, Michel directed two erotic subversive films : Les chiennes and Les désaxées (aka "I am available"), that caused a riot at the Cannes Festival. He was in Jean-François Pallardy's L'amour aux trousses and he directed in 1973 Les confidences érotiques d'un lit trop accueillant... Then was his fantastique film Les week-ends maléfiques du Comte Zaroff in 1975, that had unfortunately no success at all, due to the french censorship. Michel was forced to go back to the safety of erotic films or comedies, like Tire pas sur mon collant. From 1975 to 1978, he owned the Royal Rivoli cinema ; from 1978 to 1986, he directed, under various pseudonyms (Michel Blanc, Michel Leblanc, John Armando...) many XXX-films (Desert lovers, White Heat)... After a silence of almost 10 years, he reappeared in the 1995 award-winning short- film Le Marquis de Slime, directed by Quelou Parente, also starring Jean Rollin and Tina Aumont... A small role in Norbert Moutier's Dinosaur from the Deep (1996) concludes this list.
I sincerely hope that it's the beginning of a come-back for Michel, because I really love what he does. I discovered him in Castle of the Creeping Flesh. At the time, I bought that film because of the presence of Howard Vernon in it... In all honesty, I must say that, to my eyes, Howard was totally eclipsed by Michel. My friends and I said : « Who the hell is that man ???!!! »... Then I saw him, as Lucifer himself, in Necronomicon (he was very good, but his role was so small. As Robert Monell points out, his line « I have done well » lingers in your mind long after the movie is finished)... From then, Michel has always stunned me : he was an absolutely hallucinated Morpho in Sadisterotica, a classy scientific in Kiss Me Monster, a delirious stone-eyed alien in Planets against us, a sympathetic nice guy in Bénazéraf films and in Le Seuil du vide ; a tortured character in Les week-ends maléfiques... When I finally met him, I was happy to discover a simple, sincere, warm, intelligent and sensible man. I believe these qualities are always those of the great personalities, who lead a deep interior life. I hope this résumé will stimulate your interest in the work of an incredible and sadly too much unrecognized actor/director. For all these hours of amazement, thank you Michel. I sincerely love what you do, and I hope all your projects will be realized.