Friday, August 07, 2009

Questions and Reflections on ÜC SÜPERMEN OLIMPIYATLARDA

OK, first off - JUST WHAT THE {*BLEEP*} IS GOING ON IN THIS MOVIE? How, and why, do the 3 Supermen get back to Ancient Greece? Who's the Asiatic looking dude who talks (telepathically?) to the blond Superman whiles he's flying? And just how is the footage from 3 SUPERMEN AND A MAD GIRL supposed to fit in?

Although it might just be due to my non-understanding of Turkish, it seemed that whole portions of the movie had absolutely nothing to do with each other. Is it possible that there are more than just 2 movies inserted here? The footage at the end with Blond Superman (Levent Çakır) back in the "present" seems like it may have been footage filmed for a separate project but perhaps discarded and then fit into this movie. Furthering this impression is the overtly comedic nature of the scenes with all three Supermen and those in ancient Greece. Am I wrong or is OLYMPIC GAMES pretty much intended as a straight up comedy? All the 3 SUPERMEN films have comedic elements but this one really seems to have been made as more of a send-up then an action adventure with some comedy relief along the way. Perhaps this is why they added the footage from the other movie(s?), in order to "spice up" the action. Perhaps it was released sans other footage and made no inroads necessitating the re-editing? Or is it a matter of two cooks in the kitchen? It's still somewhat controversial just who directed OLYMPIC GAMES, series producer Italo Martinenghi or Yavuz Yalinkiliç, director of the cult classic DEAD DON'T TALK. My suspicion is that Martinenghi is responsible for most of the comedy stuff and Yalinkiliç for the more action oriented scenes exclusively featuring Levent Çakır. Was it Yalinkiliç who then brought in the MAD GIRL footage to try and make it look presentable? Ack, too many questions for such a terrible movie!

And the movie really is terrible. The comedy is mostly verbal, which doesn't really work if you don't speak the language. And it's with these scenes the film spends most of its time. The fantasy and action scenes pop up with regularity but not enough frequency. The best parts are the MAD GIRL scenes, which are wild and pulpy fun. This leads me off on a tangent concerning the relative picture quality of Turkish pulp cinema. These scenes look much better, more colorful, in OLYMPIC GAMES than in the version I have of MAD GIRL. Here's a quick screen shot comparison.

Bottom - MAD GIRL

There's a marked difference as you can see. What this brings to mind is just how much we've lost of Turkish cinema. Not just whole films, but without proper materials we often can't see just how colorful and vibrant these movies really were. Most of the films we can get our hand on these days are rather drab and bled-out looking, only occasionally, as in this case, do we get a glimpse of what once was, however blurry it may be. Another example would be Onar's DVD of 3 DEV ADAM wherein the first 16 seconds are from a Greek VHS and the rest from a more complete video betamaster. The Greek tape is far more colorful, if a bit less sharp:

What this suggests is that even by the mid 1980s when OLYMPIC GAMES was made and when ADAM was put on video there were still fairly nice, usable elements of 70s films to work with. This begs the question: What exactly happened between then and now? Why were these elements available then and what happened that made these so impossibly rare? Is the passage of time the only issue or is something else to blame? Is it a simple casualty of the collapse of the Turkish film industry? We are told that the elements for 3 DEV ADAM were destroyed in facility fire. Was this an isolated event or symptomatic of a wider problem? Was there a structural lack of concern for even the safe storage of such things? And how many other films were destroyed in that conflagration? It would seem that as with everywhere else in world cinema, the 90s were a real bad time in Turkey.

So really the only thing that makes 3 SUPERMEN AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES worthwhile, other than being funny for reasons for which it does not intend, is the preservation (so to speak) of these scenes from the superior 3 SUPERMEN AND A MAD GIRL. Even better, I noticed also that this movie preserves an entire scene which is missing from the print of MAD GIRL that I have! In MAD the movie begins with the green KKK dudes already in the Devil's Chamber, while the scene interpolated into GAMES features the long windswept procession into the Chamber! Very cool! I leave you with a few screen shots from OLYMPIC GAMES of these (fairly well composed) images.

NOTE: This piece has been adapted from a post I made at the Cinehound Forum some time ago. Below you will find all credible cast and crew info I could dig up on the internet and from the credits of the films themselves. Sadly, the credits in ÇILGIN KIZ VE ÜÇ SÜPER ADAM are unreadable so I was unable to glean any further info from that source. If anyone reading this has access to a cleaner copy with readable credits please contact me at jaredaunerATyahooDOTcom.

Turkey/Italy, 1984
Production Company: Objektif Film
Produced and Directed by Yavuz Yalinkiliç and Italo Martinenghi
Screenplay by Yavuz Yalinkiliç
Cinematography by Salih Dikisçi and Dinçel Onal
Yılmaz Köksal
Levent Çakır
Stefano Martinengi
Filiz Özten
Alain Flick
Daniel Darnault
Oktar Durukan
Bahattin Eroğlu
Kadir Kök
Jocelien Davan

Turkey, 1973
Production Company: Birlik Film
Directed by Cavit Yürüklü
Produced by Müfit Ilkiz
Screenplay by Volkan Kayhan
Cinematography by Orhan Kapki
Levent Cekir
Emel Özden
Altan Bozkurt
Yeşim Yükselen
Hüseyin Sayar
Nubar Terziyan
Nuri Kırgeç
Mine Sun
Ahmet Karatop


Jack J said...

Very good piece, Jared! And it's unfortunate that you're right: These films are now more rare than rare and whenever they do pop up it's in (far) less than perfect condition. As you know I was lucky enough to win Arkin's LION MAN and KARA MURAT SEYH GAFFAR'A KARSI recently and it's a sad state of affairs when the ultimate achievement in film collecting is succeeding in getting hold of video tapes released in the 80s. :(

Jack J said...

PS: Ask Ayman about those missing credits. If anybody can help you it's him.

laird said...

Great work. I wonder if anyplace in Turkey has original elements to these productions or if they are truly lost. I suppose then the issue would be finding someone to invest in their restoration and transfer. So sad...

Jack J said...

Actually it's even sadder!

Even IF the original film exists, and IF you can get a company to spend good money on the restoration and dvd release... the problem is still that hardly anybody gives a flying fuck!

Ed Glaser did just that with his release of RAMPAGE (aka Turkish Rambo) and nobody is buying it except for a handful of people (I'm sure Jared and I could probably make a list of all the people who have bought it).

It's uncool times we're squattin' in if you're a fan of way cool cinema. :-(

Jared said...

I still have hope that a larger and stonger audience for these types of movies can be built. I just think the world economic situation needs to improve. Certainly the DVD market has been spiralling for several years now, since at least 2003-2004. When things look a little rosier everywhere people will start to indulge pet interests a little more. Like weird movies!


Hello Jared;

Last week we have met with Mr. Kunt Tulgar personally and he said "When Italian came to Turkey to shoot Supermen movies, one of them has never completed and its completed by using previously scenes in studio. Cause of some production problems that he doesnt want to mention"

Maybe it can helps about your research.

Jared said...

That's very interesting. I wonder if it is this movie he's talking about?

Patrick B said...

Very nice work, Jared!

xanthor fek said...

with regard to yr question about what was destroyed in that fire: UC DEV ADAM director Fikret Ucak had his entire archive (films, scripts, memorabilia, etc) in a building in Beyoglu, Istanbul (near taxim). in the '90s a fire in this building destroyed a cinema and Fikret's ENTIRE archive.

Jared said...

Wow, very interesting. Thanks for that Xanthor.

xanthor fek said...

you're welcome.
It was very upsetting for Fikret.
at one point, I was working with him on WARRIORS OF AZRAEL, which was a lost film and which he wanted to remake. Then Metin Demirhan found a videotape of the original, which had been released in Germany in the early '80s.

Jack J said...

Hi Xanthor,

You worked with Fikret Ucak? Cool. What do you do if you don't mind me asking?

And it is indeed tragic with all these films that are now lost. And so sad with Metin Demirhan's passing.

Jared said...

Too cool Xanthor! Please email me at jaredaunerATyahooDOTcom and fill me in. Maybe we can do an interview with you about your working in the Turkish film industry?

xanthor fek said...

I didnt work in the turkish film industry. Metin was a very good friend for about 10 years and I frequently visited his shop in Beyoglu where I met Fikret and we became friends. Fikret spoke limited english and my turkish is even worse. He wrote a 2 page treatment for a remake of WARRIORS OF AZRAEL, which metin translated into English. although his verbal english skills were very good, his written english was lacking. I came up with a workable treatment but I honestly didnt understand it. at the time I was cowriting filmscripts with other writers: one from spain, another turkish-american. the 1st should've been made, would've been real interesting, and would've had an international cast. both had a supernatural/horror element. sorry if when I said I was working with Fikret it mislead you. he was a great guy who died while I was visiting my family in america. And i really miss Metin- a very cool guy... I'm more known for my involvement in turkish music, having managed a band and getting them a contract in the USA and for doing a comp of the best turkish psych bands of the '60s + '70s that was released in america 8 years ago.

Jared said...

No problem Xanthor. Still very interesting! And I love, love, love Turkish music too!

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