Silvio Narizzano, best known for the Swinging London comedy-drama Georgy Girl, died July 26. Narizzano was 84.
Based on Margaret Forster’s novel, and starring Lynn Redgrave, Alan Bates, James Mason, and Charlotte Rampling, Georgy Girl was considered daring at the time because its plot included sex (of the non-marital kind), abortion, and adultery. For her performance as the homely, ungainly Georgy, Lynn Redgrave was nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award and for a BAFTA in the Best British Actress category. Additionally, she shared the New York Film Critics Circle’s Best Actress Award with (eventual Oscar winner) Elizabeth Taylor (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?). Narizzano, for his part, was nominated by the Directors Guild of America.
Born in Montreal (Feb. 8, 1927) to an Italian-American family, Narizzano began his show business career on the Canadian stage and television. He later moved to the United Kingdom, where he worked on British TV.
Narizzano’s first feature film was Hammer’s Fanatic (1965), notable as Tallulah Bankhead’s last movie. Along the lines of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte, Strait-Jacket, The Witches, and other such fare, Fanatic was a psychological “horror” film with grand guignol touches, and featured a veteran film (and in Bankhead’s case also stage) star.
According to Ronald Bergan’s Narizzano obit in The Guardian, the much-aged Bankhead was “intoxicated throughout the shoot.” Even so, hers was a curious, over-the-top performance as a deranged religious freak who keeps her dead son’s fiancee (Stefanie Powers) prisoner. In the United States, Fanatic was released as Die! Die! My Darling!, surely in recognition of Bankhead’s penchant for using the D-word. (No, not “die.”)
Other notable Narizzano efforts were the poorly received Western Blue (1968), starring Terence Stamp; a film version of Joe Orton’s comedy Loot (1970), starring Richard Attenborough, Lee Remick, and Hywel Bennett; the British TV version of William Inge’s Come Back, Little Sheba (1977), starring Laurence Olivier and Joanne Woodward; and another television production, Staying On (1980), with Brief Encounter veterans Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson.
From the mid-60s, Narizzano shared his life with the writer Win Wells, with whom he lived in Mojácar, in Spain’s Andalusia. Wells co-wrote two movies directed by Narizzano: Senza ragione / Redneck (1972), a crime thriller with Franco Nero, Mark Lester, and Telly Savalas, and Bloodbath (1979), a cheapo horror movie shot in Mojácar. As per The Guardian, Bloodbath starred Dennis Hopper “as the leader of a group of degenerate Americans terrorized by locals for their indulgence in drugs and sex.” According to the IMDb, Wells had a small role as “Allen.”
Wells died in 1983, leaving Narizzano in a state of deep depression. After that, he directed only a handful of television programs, the last of which was an episode of the television series Space Precinct in 1995.