Destination unknown – Rediscovering ‘Top Sensation’ (Italy 1969 – 89 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - January 21, 2014
Destination unknown – Rediscovering ‘Top Sensation’ (Italy 1969 – 89 mins)

More appropriately known as ‘The Seducers’, the entertainingly sun-soaked thriller ‘Top Sensation’ is a decently plotted little potboiler. Filled with beautiful relaxed people with a carefree attitude, the movie seems to relish in its theme of the rich exploiting the poor.

Most of the story takes place during a pleasure cruise aboard the yacht of rich, spoilt businesswoman Mudy (Maud Belleroche). Swinging couple Aldo (Maurizio Bonuglia) and his sexy wife Paola (Rosalba Neri) have been hired along with a prostitute, Ulla (Edwige Fenech), to satisfy both Mudy and her emotionally insecure twenty year old son Tony, who has yet to show any signs of sexual interest. When the party bring on board a shy and naïve local peasant girl Beba (pretty Ewa Thulin), the repressed Tony begins to show some interest.
Unfortunately Beba’s older, slobbish husband shows up and before long the happy-go-lucky party soon turns violent.

Similar to Ruggero Deodato’s later, more explicit ‘Waves of Lust’ (’75), and very much ahead of its time, ‘Top Sensation’ seemed to be pushing the boundaries for 1969, especially during the oft-mentioned scene of Fenech enjoying the company of a goat during an impromptu photo shoot. Another has Fenech, Neri and newcomer Thulin engaging in some mild lesbian shenanigans down in the boat’s cabins. Writer -Director Ottavio Alessi made a big deal of having secured two beautiful leading ladies in Rosalba Neri and Edwige Fenech, to top-line. Although Fenech was at the time a relative unknown, she was on the cusp of becoming a future euro-goddess.

21 year old Edwige Fenech plays the carefree prostitute Ulla. A former model, French-born Edwige was prolific in both Italian sex comedies and the very popular giallo movies, many of which were made by ‘Torso’ director Sergio Martini. Such alluring titles as ‘All the Colours of the Dark’, and ‘Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key’, featured Edwige in various states of dread or undress. Fenech continues to act occasionally and recently appeared briefly in Eli Roth’s Hostel: Part II in 2007.

30 year old Italian Rosalba Neri, who plays swinging Paola, was already an established actress by this point, having already appeared in over 50 movies, including a bit in the 1961 epic ‘El Cid’. Rosalba had made her movie debut in 1955, aged just 16, and was starring in a string of Hercules romps and sex comedies, before settling in more genre fare including Jess Franco’s prison flick ‘99 Women’, and the enjoyably lurid ‘French Sex Murders’ with Humphrey Bogart impersonator, Robert Sacchi. Neri retired from acting in 1976 after appearing in around 100 features.

As the unfortunate Beba, young Ewa Thulin impresses in her fist movie role. She seemed to vanish the following year after only four features. As the older, spoilt Mudy, Maud Belleroche had some presence, though it remains her only feature to date.

‘Top Sensation’ remains a pretty good sleaze-fest, with a fast pace and all the right ingredients that make up a good euro-thriller. More than just pure sexploitation, the isolated setting and developed characters, give this obscure late sixties thriller a boost, and an ending which leaves the door open for much worse things to happen to these unsavoury people.

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