28. jul, 2015

VHS Rarities: The Thirteen Chairs aka 12+1 (1969), Sharon Tate's Last Movie

Directors: Nicolas Gessner & Luciano Lucignani

Starring: Sharon Tate, Vittorio Gassman, Orson Welles & Tim-Brooke Taylor

Based on The Twelve Chairs, a 1928 satirical novel by the Soviet authors Ilf & Petrov

Release: Through rental only by Force Video in 1986 under Thirteen Chairs and again a year later by Continental Video under 12+1. In 2008 the was released on DVD in Italy by 01 Distribution. This is the Italian version and lacks English subtitles


When barber Mario Beretti (Vittorio Gassman) finds out he inherited an estate in Europe, he arrives to discover that the place is in a horrible condition. After selling some of the furniture in a local antique shop, Mario finds out that a fortune is stowed within one of the chairs, and he embarks on a frantic search to track it down. Along the way, he meets Pat (Sharon Tate), who accompanies him on his journey, which also finds them encountering the eccentric stranger Markau (Oron Welles) among others

It's difficult to talk about Sharon Tate without mentioning or thinking about her murder on August 9, 1969. This movie was released after her death, with the actress receiving top-billing. Sharon Tate's work as an actress has been reassessed after her death, with contemporary film writers and critics such as Leonard Matlin, describing her potential as a comedienne. It's difficult to tell of the career she might have established had she lived. In the short documentary All Eyes On Sharon Tate, which was used to publicize the movie Eye of the Devil, she talked about her acting ambitions.

Sharon: ' I don't fool myself. I can't see myself doing Shakespeare. I like to become a light comedienne in the Carole Lombard-style.'

The Thirteen Chairs was filmed whilst Sharon Tate was pregnant. The script called for some semi-nude scenes, so the director arranged to film those scenes first. As filming and her pregnancy progressed, the director obscured Tate's stomach with large purses and scarves. This is most apparent in the scene following her ride in the furniture mover's van. The movie is bit daft but has some funny moments, and Sharon looks absolutely stunning. With small parts by Vittorio De Sica, Mylene Demongeot, Terry Thomas, Lionel Jeffries & Orson Welles, the beautiful scenery of Italy & France and great soundtracks by Stelvio Cipriani & Carlo Rustichelli (there are two separate ones: for the Italian and the American version). 

Author Simon Wells, who wrote Charles Manson: Coming Down Fast, set this bizarre link to the finale of The Thirteen Chairs:

'...is just weird. Sharon Tate's last film: The Thirteen Chairs - shot just six months before her diabolical end. The final credits sequence: I will say no more than just watch it. Talk about creepy prophesies over ''The End'' I am amazed this hasn't been highlighted before. So very odd.'

You might call it odd when Mario (Vittorio Gassman) returns to his barber shop only to discover that he is a millionaire because of an accident he had with his lotions at the beginning of the film, which formed a hair growth lotion that has people bidding to get his formula and turned him into a long-haired demented hippie with an uncanny resemblance to Charles Manson...