OVER THE TOP ORGY IN ROME! (Movie Memory)

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Che bella citta Roma! Vincent Minnelli’s “Two Weeks In Another Town” is pure glamour, trash, camp and Hollywood glitz. In other words it is great fun. Don’t go into it expecting anything more than over the top soap opera with the suds on overflow and you won’t be disappointed.

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Rome takes center stage in the film and is shown in all its “La Dolce Vita” glory of 1962. So much was happening there at this time. The birth of the paparazzi, the filming of “Cleopatra” and the international “Jet Set” had just landed in Rome to make it the fun capital of the world. The film captures all of this with high gloss and a tip of the fedora to Fellini who had first shown a light on the goings on along the Via Veneto a few years earlier.

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Kirk Douglas plays a down and out movie star just released from a mental institution / rehab center when he is invited to fly to Rome by his old director and ex friend Edward G. Robinson to take a small comeback part in his epic being filmed at the famed Cinecitta Studios. Well I don’t want to spoil the fun so all I will say is that there are plenty of gorgeous Italians running amok and lots of fabulous jewels bedecking Cyd Charisse. Tons of locations throughout the Eternal City and even an orgy! But the highlight of the film is the climactic scenic drive through the streets of Rome that Douglas takes Miss Charisse on after the orgy. That drive has to be seen to be believed! Words fail me at the sheer joy of this over wrought fun fest.

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Trust me, it isn’t anywhere near the brilliance of “The Bad and The Beautiful” of which it is a kind of follow up on, But it is beautifully bad in the very best way.
The DVD says remastered. But don’t expect Blu-ray quality, it is fine nothing spectacular in it’s re-mastering. But the color is good and the picture is clear.

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All those jewels and great gowns on Miss Charisse lead me to wonder what perfume her character would have worn? Well, it has to be nothing less than, Caleche Parfum by Hermes, a heady floral aldeyhyde with seductive notes of Iris, Gardenia, Jasmine, Ylang-Ylang, Sandalwood and Amber. Those are just the notes that stand out to me. A lush, even cinematicly dramatic fragrance that is perfect of a night of abandon in Rome.

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THE FALL OF ROME ~ GOLD, Les Compositions Parfumees by Lalique

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Gold, she was completely covered in gold….

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She hardly noticed the fingers flitting from her collar to her cleavage as Irene’s hands plucked and pulled at her golden Isis winged cape adjusting it so it hung just so.  At the foot of the black fiberglass beast a line of men with highly oiled skin shuffled past in leather loincloths to their appointed place where the huge ropes waited to be lifted and hauled, their number was in the hundreds. Ahead of them stood the unfinished back of the Arch of Constantine, (set historically at the wrong place at the wrong time) a construction of pipes, scaffolding and plaster of Paris which had been standing a year already just waiting for this day. To the left of it were banks of lights and behind them electrical generators humming low and hot. A myriad of gaffers, technicians and gofers scurried and rushed to serve those machines and gigantic bulbs that would very soon all be turned on and turned toward her. All of this she barely noticed as Joe whispered last minute instructions in her ear. What she did notice was the low rumble of thousands upon thousands of voices beyond the arch. They sounded dangerous and hungry.

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“It’s time.” Joe said. He patted her hand then he and Irene climbed down from the gilded platform leaving her sitting there three stories high with a six year old Italian boy next to her who had no idea that a wave of vertigo was threatening to engulf her. Nor could he understand that she was in the eye of the biggest scandal to rock Hollywood in forty years. Only yesterday the Pope had denounced her publicly in an open letter in the Vatican newspaper as a wanton home wrecker and a sexual vagrant. Her falling in love with the married Richard Burton had even knocked the Cuban Missile Crisis off most of the front pages of the world’s newspapers. The sound of the mob rolled and rumbled ominously beyond the arch in what was a Roman Forum twice as large as the real one just six miles north of Cinecitta. The sound of it hit her in the pit of her stomach. There had been bomb threats that morning which she was not supposed to have known about, but she knew. Another wave of vertigo hit the pit of her stomach as the three thousand extras turned in unison to look toward her. Devout Roman Catholics all, and they all by now had read the Pope’s letter. Some of them might have rotten tomatoes, or rocks or a gun. She could barely make out Richard on the steps of the Senate house next to Rex. He was nervously fingering the hilt of his freshly sharpened gladius. Only then did she realize that she was clutching the little boys back for dear life. He was looking up quizzically at her as if he were about to ask her if she was alright. But he didn’t speak English so he said nothing. She smiled at him. She had to be brave for his sake and the sake of her own children and mother and father who were watching from the sidelines.

Suddenly Joe’s voice came thought a bull horn calling “Action!” The playback music began. Pounding drums deep and majestic that in turn where haunted by flutes and reeds. The three hundred men below began to strain against the ropes and slowly buy one inch then two the great black sphinx began to move laboriously forward toward the arch. All she could hear now were the drums. Was it the playback or was it the sound of her racing heart in her ears? The mob was deadly silent and waiting. Waiting for her. She set her eyes on Richard and concentrated on only him. Nothing else mattered, where she was, the scandal, the damnation of the world that had been hurled at her head faded to a blur and there was only him. No matter what was about to happen in the next moments, she knew he was worth it. They were screaming, they were shouting and they were surging forward as the beast of Egypt’s Queen cleared the arch baring between its paws a goddess of pure gold.

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“Here we go Bessie….” She thought. Then it hit her right between the eyes and shot straight into her heart. The three thousand Roman Catholics were waving and with smiles beaming, blowing kisses and cheering “Liz! Liz! Baci Baci!” kisses kisses. The sphinx came to a dead stop and she was surrounded by nothing but love. It was the most purely golden wonderful moment in a year of heartache, regret and madness. Her eyes were so filled with tears that she couldn’t see Richard until he was atop the gleaming stairs of the sphinx reaching up to her tears stained his beautiful pockmarked cheek. Joe was there too with wet eyes but the most surprising thing was to see that old crusty cameraman Leon Shamroy sitting beside the camera atop the crane crying and clapping.

In the summer of 1962 Elizabeth Taylor, sat on her golden throne atop a monstrous black sphinx at the center of her fame shimmering in the Roman sun in her 24 carat gold Isis costume. She had conquered Rome not to mention the Pope.

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 ***

Gold by Lalique is part of the Les Compositions Parfumees 2015 release. A collection of five perfumes that are all based on precious metals. This is a very interesting and exciting point of view for perfume. To create in scent the image, the essence and the emotions elicited by highly prized earthly elements that in essence have no real olfactory signature.  The other four perfumes are Electrum, Zamak, Bronze and Silver. It seems only fitting that we begin with gold.

The nose behind Gold is at this point a mystery. I could not find out who it is but perhaps that just adds to the glamour of this fragrance. A perfume that is smooth and polished to a brilliant shine. Almost austere but there is a warmth in it that like Gold itself draws one in with its fascinating glow. Enticing velvety and rich. There is a velvet buttery beauty to gold when it is polished to mirror brilliance. It is the element that can only be created in the universe when a star goes super nova. The death of a star creates our most precious metal here on Earth. Gold is so rare and prized that the ancient Egyptians believed that the skin of the gods was made of it. And of course if you drop the “L’ from gold in English, what do you have? God.

Gold opens with only two top notes, bergamot and lemon, this is I am told meant to create the brilliance of gold. In fact in the opening the spark of the two citrus notes is brilliant and illusive. It glitters on the skin but momentarily and then streaks away leaving the way open for the star of the perfume, a note that resembles the heavy beauty one finds in the finest of Italian gold jewelry. Before our star note arrives in the mid notes of the perfume there are satellite notes, lovely ones of Egyptian Jasmine and lily of the valley. They are soft and hum in the background like a Greek chorus announcing the arrival of the superstar. It enters as a gorgeous smooth hard edged iris note that if left on its own could very well be too dry, somber and severe. But there is a surprise in the bottom notes that gives the iris a warmth and beauty beyond expectations. The bottom notes are a gift to the iris. And this surprise package is wrapped in earthy patchouli. Within the box as the patchouli gives way is the gift of the perfumer that complements the iris, a stunning blending of vanilla and benzoin. Here is a creamy buttery mix that never goes sweet or cloying but in its marriage with the iris they turn Gold into a golden beauty.

This is a floral chypre that is elegant, smooth and perfect for almost any season. It has both masculine strengths and feminine curves. A uni-sex perfume that invites one in and enhances the beauty of the wearer with its brilliance and allure. When you wear Gold on your skin there is no reason to wear anything else.

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(ELIZABETH TAYLOR IN GOLD)

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