Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Raquel Welch, Classic Beauty

Eternal Sex Symbol Raquel Welch

Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com
Raquel Welch, still a classic beauty for the ages.

A beauty contest winner in the '50s, Raquel Welch was an aspiring actress who kicked around Hollywood for a bunch of years before being noticed. She was in an Elvis Presley film ("Roustabout") and some others, she appeared on "Bewitched," she was on "McHale's Navy," but only in bit parts. Raquel even auditioned for the role of Mary Ann on "Gilligan's Island" but failed to get it. 


Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com


How this classic beauty could ever have been overlooked is hard to figure out now. Eventually, Raquel got the recognition she so richly deserved.


Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com


Many people don't realize that Raquel traces her roots back to the Mayflower on her mother's side. On her father's side, she is of Bolivian/Spanish descent. She is not, as many people seem to believe, of any kind of Native American descent.


Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com


Raquel is her real first name, and Welch is the name of her first husband - James Westley Welch, the one she says was the best.


Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com
Raquel Welch on the set of "Kansas City Bomber" (1972).

Some sources say that Raquel is still married to her latest husband, Richard Palmer, others not. Maybe they got divorced but are still together - that seems to happen a lot these days. Some sources say they divorced in 2007.


Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com


Basically building her career on parts that featured her in outfits that flattered her figure, Raquel Welch continues working in Hollywood to this day.


Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com


All of these shots have that "look" that made Raquel a sex symbol, the biggest one since Marilyn Monroe.

Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com
Raquel as Constance de Bonacieux in "The Three Musketeers" (1973).

Raquel has specialize in that "look" throughout her career, and she excels at it and may even be said to have originated it.


Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com
Raquel Welch in "Myra Breckinridge" (1970).

Raquel had her first feature film role as Jeri in "A Swingin' Summer" (1965). She sang "I'm Ready To Groove" in the film, a typical '60s dance tune. While proving that she was a perfectly fine singer, Raquel did not pursue that talent much in later years, rather relying on her looks, acting and dancing skills.


Let's take a closer look at the role that made Raquel Welch a star.


One Million Years B.C.


Raquel Welch shot to fame in "One Million Years B.C.," a 1966 film which she carried by prancing about in a leather bikini. She has said:

Americans were not sure how to deal with the exotic. I was lucky that one of my first movies, One Million Years B.C. (1966) was made in Europe by a British company. The Brits, and a lot of the rest of Europe, seemed to really love exotic women. The fact that I was American and exotic just made me more appealing to them.

Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com
The poster that made Raquel a star. She claims it was a pure accident and not planned out, and when she found out that it had been turned into a popular poster, she was shocked.

Raquel didn't really want to do it, pleading "Please, please don't make me do the dinosaur movie," but the studio insisted. The studio was right: it made her a star.

Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com
"One Million Years B.C." received a lot publicity.

There wasn't much, if any, dialog. It was all about Raquel and her iconic leather look. Most teenage boys in the late '60s to early '70s had a picture of Raquel from this film on their walls or in their basement or out in the garage or, well, somewhere. "One Million Years B.C." may not be listed in the film review books as a great film, but it featured great shots of Raquel, who apparently spent days shooting promo stills for it.



Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com



"One Million Years B.C." was released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber Studio Classics on 14 February 2017. Special features include the 4K restoration of the 91 minute U.S. cut, audio commentary by film historian Tim Lucas, "In the Valley of Dinosaurs" - an interview with star Raquel Welch, an interview with SFX legend Ray Harryhausen, interview with actress Martine Beswick, animated montage of posters and images, and trailers. 


Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com



For "One Million Years B.C., the director was Don Chaffey, special effects were by legend Ray Harryhausen, and Raquel's costar was John Richardson.


Raquel Welch The Magic Christian legends.filminspector.com



Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com


Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com


Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com


Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com

Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com

Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com

Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com

Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com

Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com

Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com

Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com

Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com


Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com


legends.filminspector.com

Raquel Welch One Millions Years B.C. legends.filminspector.com

Raquel Welch One Millions Years B.C. legends.filminspector.com

Raquel Welch One Millions Years B.C. legends.filminspector.com

The Magic Christian

"The Magic Christian" was based on the Terry Southern novel. Southern was the writer who penned "Dr. Strangelove," so there were high hopes for this film. Like many films of the period, though, it tried to do too much and lost its way. The one standout, though, was Raquel Welch in a cameo as a whip-wielding dominatrix in charge of rowers of a pleasure barge. Nobody really remembers the film anymore, which starred Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr, but lots of viewers remember Raquel and her sexy leather outfit.

Raquel Welch The Magic Christian legends.filminspector.com


Raquel Welch The Magic Christian legends.filminspector.com


Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com


Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com

Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com
With Ringo Starr in "The Magic Christian." Several slightly different versions of this follow



Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com


Raquel Welch The Magic Christian legends.filminspector.com

Raquel Welch The Magic Christian legends.filminspector.com

Raquel Welch The Magic Christian legends.filminspector.com


Myra Breckinridge

No account of Raquel Welch's career can be complete without delving into the unmitigated disaster that was "Myra Breckinridge" (1970). The studio, Twentieth Century Fox, was facing a generational shift and had lost its footing. Seeking to capture the youthful audience that was more interested in rock concerts and protests than standard films, the studio hired Michael Sarne, a young, inexperienced director, in the hope he could infuse a swingin' 60s vibe to the hit Gore Vidal novel.

Director Sarne has said:
Myra Breckinridge, in fact, is the last dying gasp of the 1960s before the cynical seventies closed in, and people said 'Don't be so romantic. Don't be so crazy. And all the shutters came down as people said 'Stop being so silly! Behave yourselves! We're not like that anymore!' And that's how the world changed...
Unfortunately, the studio's idea didn't work. "Myra Breckinridge" turned out to be an incoherent mess, and the film only managed to ruin the comeback of Mae West and the attempted breakout of Farrah Fawcett (cast because boyfriend Lee Majors introduced her to the producers). Mae never really came back, Farrah had to wait long years until Charlie's Angels rescued her career from oblivion, and Raquel, well, she just marched on to her next film.


Raquel Welch Myra Breckinridge legends.filminspector.com


The "Myra Breckinridge" set in general was not a happy one. Ingenue Farrah Fawcett had some unkind things to say about Raquel in particular:
On Myra Breckinridge (1970) we had to wait hours for Raquel Welch. I wasn't anybody so I stood around the set and I heard what the crew said about her. I decided I didn't want them saying those things about me.
Others said that the director was the one usually making everyone wait, so there may have been some passive-aggressive tit-for-tat going on. Both Farrah and Raquel were beautiful young starlets competing for attention, so it was a mixture ripe for discord.


Raquel Welch Myra Breckinridge legends.filminspector.com

Raquel Welch Myra Breckinridge legends.filminspector.com

Raquel Welch Myra Breckinridge legends.filminspector.com

Raquel Welch Myra Breckinridge legends.filminspector.com

Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com

Raquel Welch Myra Breckinridge legends.filminspector.com


Random Shots

While "One Million Years B.C." opened a lot of doors for Raquel Welch, Gore Vidal's "Myra Breckinridge" (Vidal disowned the film) closed many of them again. Raquel did her best, promoting the film and being very nice to Rex Reed on set (though she and Mae West hated each other), but it was like battling a hurricane of critical scorn and outright hate (subsequently, she also has expressed her scorn for the film). According to Leonard Maltin, "Myra Breckinridge" was, well, let him say it:
As bad as any movie ever made.
The film tackled sex-change operations and, well, lots of things that were taboo back in the day, and effectively ruined the careers of director Michael Sarne (though he remains a working actor to this day) and star Roger Herren. An epic catastrophe for all involved, "Myra Breckinridge" featured outstanding talent such as Farrah Fawcett (her first film), Jim Backus, John Carradine, John Huston and Mae West (of all people), but it was, well, let's say it was a little ahead of its time. Okay, it was a long, long ways ahead of its time. However, "Myra Breckinridge" has become a bit of a cult hit in the home video era despite flopping at the box office.

Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com
"Hannie Caulder" (1971).

Still, Raquel persevered and did some fine work in the early '70s, including lead roles in outstanding films such as "Hannie Caulder," "The Three Musketeers" and "Mother, Jugs and Speed." By the middle of the decade, though, the leading roles had dried up and Raquel turned to television movies. More recently, she has been a semi-regular on a string of television series, with the occasional movie role such as in the "Legally Blonde." It is a classic career arc, and Raquel has played it perfectly. Below are various shots, all from her heyday in the 1970s.

Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com
"Fantastic Voyage" (1966).


Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com
"Mork and Mindy" (1979).


Raquel Welch legends.filminspector.com
Raquel thanks her fans at the 1979 Academy Awards.





2017

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