JESS FRANCO MONTH: El llanero (1963)

The Jaguar comes early in the career of Jess Franco and, as with much of Italian and Spanish directors, he was working on a western.

Venezuela, 1863. Colonel Saltierra (Georges Rollin) brazenly attacks the home of Colonel Mendoza (Felix Dafauce), murdering everyone except for the man’s son Jose (Jose Suarez) and a servant named Juano (Roberto Camardiel). Within a few years, no one is left to challenge Saltierra except for revolutionaries — which includes Spanish pop stars Los Machucambos — led by a Robin Hood named The Jaguar, who is, as you can already figure out, Jose.

The trouble is that Jose is in love with Saltierra’s daughter Ines (Marta Reves) who is already promised to one of her father’s men, Lieutenant Alberto Kalman (Todd Martens). Sylvia Sorrente, who plays the dancing informant Lolita also shows up in Castle of Blood and The Poppy Is Also a Flower, as well as an uncredited role as a Roman citizen in Bruno Mattei’s Caligula et Messaline.

Franco actually has a budget here and this is not full of his usual zooms and leering at the female characters, although you can tell he’s having a blast capturing the lusty dancing and energy of Sorrente. This was written by his first wife, Nicole Guettard, using the name Nicole David. She also wrote The Mistresses of Dr. Jekyll as David Coll, the story that Al Otro Lado del Espejo is based on and used the name Nicole Franco for the credits on the movies Celestine, Maid at Your ServiceLorna the ExorcistLe JourisseurBut Who Raped Linda and Les chatouilleuses. She’s also the script supervisor for The Diabolical Dr. ZVampyros LesbosX312 – Flight to HellEugenie de Sade, Dracula, Prisoner of FrankensteinLa Maldicion de FrankensteinSinner: The Diary of a NymphomaniacQuartier de femmes and Game of Murder. She shows up in a few of his films, including Robinson und seine wilden Sklavinnen as a script girl, as a doctor in A Virgin Among the Living Dead, Gloria in Al Otro Lado del Espejo, as well as Midnight Party and Shining Sex, where she plays a cabaret owner.

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