Sunday, May 8, 2011

Julie Ege Discography

In her hey day Julie Ege released two singles: Love/In One Of Your Weaker Moments (CBS 5431) – an interpretation of the John Lennon song – and, ahem, Touch Me/Stop It I Like It (Starbox SX 1158) in 1977. Producers had subsequently asked her to record an LP (that's a long playing record for all you teenies out there), but Ege refused as she never really considered herself to be a proper singer.

I am personally only familiar with In One Of Your Weaker Moments and, hmmm, what can I say about it without sounding too insulting?

OK! Remember William Shatner singing Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds? Well, Julie Ege’s track isn’t quite that bad… but only just.

She isn’t really singing this piece. She’s more talking through it while mainly being accompanied by a piano. You can get away with this style of song interpretation if you’re a guy and you’re name is Telly Savalas. For anyone else this is a cop out, especially when she does attempt a quasi-singing approach occasionally and consistently misses the right notes.

Based on that performance alone it is no surprise that she had to include a semi-nude picture of herself for her recording of John Lennon’s Love in order to instil some kind of interest in her single. Still, well worth checking out even just for curiosity’s sake. Graham Groom’s discussion group has an MP3 version of the song in their file section.

Ege also appeared as Columbia in the Norwegian language recording of The Rocky Horror Show. Originally recorded in Oslo on October 24 & 25, 1977, there have been several releases, both official and bootleg. The most recent release can be found on CD in 2002 by Universal Music AS (Catalog # 014728 2).

The Rocky Music site is well worth checking out as it has a lot of info on this particular recording. The entire CD is available as an MP3 download from Amazon. The site also has clips to listen to though Ege is not individually highlighted so appears to have possibly only contributed as part of the various artists involved in "Tiden blir skrudd" ("The Time Warp").

Julie Ege Bibliography

The good news: Unbeknownst to many a Julie Ege fan she has actually published an autobiography. There has also been a study out about Norwegian actresses in Hollywood that extensively covers her as well and was also transferred into a feature length documentary that is available on video.

The bad news: Unless you have a penchant for Scandinavian languages you will not be able to understand them as they have only been published in Norwegian.

Julie Ege’s autobiography Naken (“Naked”) was published in 2002 and covers “her childhood, her time as a factory worker, her budding career as a model, and her breakthrough in the Miss Norway contest that lead to an exhaustive movie career. She also writes about the time when she as a mother of small children was pursuing a degree in nursing, life with the writer Anders Bye, herself being diagnosed with breast cancer and becoming a grandmother”. Unfortunately that book now appears to be completely out of print and extremely rare. I can't even locate a cover scan for this anywhere.

Norwegian theatre and film director Niels Petter Solberg (aka the World's Leading Authority on Julie Ege) wrote Norske Filmdivaer in Hollywood (“Norwegian film divas in Hollywood”, 2001). This is a coffee table book that is chock galore with often rare posters, stills and private photos of Norwegian actresses that looked for fame and fortune in Hollywood (and – apparently – Blighty). 26 of the book’s 140 pages are dedicated to Julie Ege. The remainder covers Greta Nissen, Sigrid Gurie, Greta Gynt, Anna-Lisa and Vera Zorina.

Niels subsequently directed a documentary on a similar subject: Norske kvinner i Hollywood (“Norwegian actresses in Hollywood” 2001).

He had also accompanied Ege to the Hammer at Bray II event in 1999 and conducted an interview with her that was published in both Psychotronic Video # 24 and Little Shoppe of Horrors # 15.

Up Pompeii (UK, 1971)

This screen adaptation of the popular British TV series Up Pompeii takes place just before the Vesuvius erupts and buries all of Pompeii. The very loose plot centres around a visit by Nero and a plot to assassinate the Emperor. Documents get mixed up, wrong people get accused and everything ends in pieces when the city gets destroyed.

The film - just like the TV series - is full of double entendres, cheap jokes and titillation. In actual fact, the entire first half-hour is one ongoing orgy joke. ("Everything is laid out but the girls... and the men will see to that.") All the jokes are pretty much in line with similar material from the early 70s such as the Carry On... series or Hammer's own adaptations of On The Buses.

Words cannot easily convey the sheer daftness of Up Pompeii 's jokes. If you’re familiar with the TV series, you will know what to expect in the movie: The jokes are pretty much the same. So switch off your brain, have a few cans and Beware! You may just about start to enjoy these outrageous Shenanigans. It's a journey back in time.... not to ancient Rome, but to early 70s Britain before everything became PC.

Julie Ege is pretty much the only one of the cast not sporting a Cockney accent. Come to think of it: Her thick Scandinavian accent is probably closer to the historic truth than any of the Modern English on display in the film. Not that anyone of the filmmakers really lost some sleep over historical accuracy. In actual fact: The film is full of modernisms: girls wear satin nickers, characters complain about the cost of inflation etc.

Ege received a special mention during the film's opening credits: A sign of her popularity at the time. She plays Voluptia, wife of the pro-consul, and apparently "she has the makings of a pro, too." Although not appearing nude as such, some of her costumes leave very little to the imagination.

Madeline Smith plays Ludicrus Sextus' nymphomaniac daughter Erotica. The first time we see her in the movie she's in her father’s yard with her Ex-Lover and we are reminded that "X is Latin for 10". D'oh! She's got a memorable, short nude bathing scene midway through the movie.

Some of the male Up Pompeii cast has also appeared in Hammer movies. Bernard Bresslaw who plays Gorgo, the invincible gladiator, is most famous for starring in The Ugly Duckling (1959) - Hammer's "lost" comedic take on the Jeckyll & Hyde theme. He was also in I Only Arsked (1959) and Moon Zero Two (1969). Frankie Howerd played in Further Up The Creek (1958), Michael Hordern in Demons of the Mind (1972).

The last scene of the film shows the entire main cast as tourists being guided through modern Pompeii. All act astonished at some of the erotic pieces they discover on the ancient murals, but their inner thoughts reveal that not an awful lot has changed since then. They're still the lusty bunch they were before.

The success of Up Pompeii led to two "sequels" of sorts: Up The Chastity Belt (1971) and Up The Front (1972). The last one again featured Madeline Smith.

Julie Ege (*November 12, 1943 - April 29, 2008)

Gorgeous girl from abroad with little inhibitions decides to trade on her looks and make it to one of the capitals of the Swinging 60s. Following a succession of stunning photo shoots, she becomes the Belle of the Ball and gets the chance to star in a bunch of movies that focus primarily on her beauty as opposed to her modest acting talent. After being the talk of the town for a while, what can she do? Where else can she go?

Well, one option is to “do a Denberg”, get involved with the wrong crowd, speed up a gear or three and enjoy the fast life with drinks, drugs and one man after the other before heading towards the inevitable mental breakdown.

As similar as both Susan Denberg’s and Julie Ege’s career paths at times seem to be, Ege personality-wise appears to have been the complete opposite to her Austrian fellow Hammer Girl. Despite being in the public eye at quite a young age, she eventually comes across as quite level handed. At the height of her career, she even did a complete U Turn and decided to move back to her native Norway and pursue a career as a nurse, an old childhood dream of hers and also earned a degree in English and History from the University of Oslo.

Julie (some sources claim she was originally named Dzuli, but that is completely unfounded) was born on November 12, 1943 in Sandnes, a small fishing village 15 minutes away from Stavanger, located at the coast in the South West of Norway and with just 115.000 people still the country’s forth biggest city. Nowadays Sandnes is known as the “Bicycle Town”: When you visit it you can borrow one of 200 bikes for touring around. It’s also a popular place for BMX tracks and dirt races. But I digress.

Ege started modelling right after finishing school at 15 and at the age of 19 became Miss Norway. She decided to move to London to pursue an acting and modelling career. She also worked as an au pair in the capital. (I know what you guys think now. Stop it!) Her first major break was being in the UK edition of Penthouse Magazine in May 1967 that led to a bit part in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) and a small, but memorable and very nude role in the Martin Feldman vehicle Every Home Should Have One (1970).

In 1970 Julie – who at that stage had already been married and divorced twice - was personally chosen by Michael Carreras to be “The New Sex Symbol of the 70s”. In a competition she beat more than 900 other girls worldwide to this title and was offered a contract by Hammer. Prior to this competition her 36-24-36 physique had already generated a staggering 1657 column inches in British papers in a two year period. It remains one of the eternal mysteries why Hammer then subsequently decided to seriously tone down her looks for her prehistoric outing in Creatures the World Forgot. It’s the one movie in Hammer’s prehistoric series in which the female lead purposely does not come across like a Glamour Girl from B.C…. and I’m not talking British Columbia here, folks.

It took Hammer until 1973 before they starred her again in one of their movies. The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires (1973) is a much ridiculed, but taken in (or with) the right spirits a thoroughly entertaining Vampire/Kung Fu action movie in which she played side-by-side with Peter Cushing in his last performance as Van Helsing. Christopher Lee had already given up his Dracula role to slightly less impressive John Forbes Robertson.

In between the two Hammer movies Ege mainly appeared in a couple of comedies – Up Pompeii (1971), The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins (1971) and Not Now Darling (1973). Her popular It Girl status was confirmed when she was allowed a cameo appearance in The Alf Garnett Saga (1972).

Prior to her move back to Norway she again mainly starred in comedies – Percy’s Progress (1974), The Amorous Milkman (1974) – and Horror/Sci-Fi movies – The Final Programme (1973), Craze (1973) and the truly bizarre The Mutations (1974). She also recorded a couple of songs that turned into minor hits.

Ege regrettably passed away far too young from breast cancer on March 29, 2008, and left behind two daughters, Joanna (who lives in Shanghai) and Ella.