Saturday, May 3, 2008

Hammer's head cavegirl


First Hazel Court, now, less than a week later, Julie Ege.
.
While Court was of the first, more stately generation of Hammer leading ladies, Ege was very much of the later school, the seventies international crumpet contingent.
.
She had been Miss Norway, a Penthouse centrefold and one of Blofeld’s girls in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by the time Hammer spotted her, declared her “the new sex symbol of the seventies” and cast her as a cavewoman in Creatures The World Forgot. The film died, but any Hammer fan will tell you that she was the studio's top cavewoman, outgrunting Raquel Welch, Edina Ronay or Victoria Vetri by a prehistoric mile.
.
For a while Ege was busy in British films, combining sexpot roles in Up Pompeii (as 'Voluptua'), Percy’s Progress, Not Now Darling and The Amorous Milkman with more interesting work (this is strictly relative, remember) in some of the odder British horror films, like Herman Cohen’s demented Craze, and The Mutations, which ends with her turning into a plant.
In all these films she was well-served by an air of bemusement which could have been unfamiliarity with the language but was just as likely incredulity at the weird things she was being asked to do and the overall shabbiness of the productions in which she was being asked to do them.
Unlike many Hammer glamour queens of the time, she has a down to earth quality and seems to be enjoying herself. As a result, she seems less self-conscious and more likeable on screen, and she is easier to pick out and remember from film to film, than many of her peers.
.
.
The Mutations has her as a student in London, and there is a convincingly matey, Man About the House-type interplay with her co-stars Jill Haworth and two blokes (you look up their names if you’re so interested). And she is charming in the Marty Feldman film Every Home Should Have One, funny in The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins, and game indeed in The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires, her second Hammer, in which she plays a kind of proto-feminist European adventuress. It is, I suppose, acting-wise the meatiest of all her roles, but as I said, this is all relative.
.
She lived in England for a while but eventually returned to Norway, where she became a nurse. It was, she said, what she had always wanted to be: “To be honest, I was never really that proud of my performance in films, but I gave it my best and enjoyed the work very much.”
.
She died of cancer on April 29th.