Hammer Glamour

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Hammer Glamour was published in 2009 by Titan Books and compiled by Marcus Hearn. The book is a glossy tribute to many of the actresses who memorably featured in Hammer films for the legendary blood drenched studio over the decades and includes hundreds of stills and photographs. From Raquel Welch in her furry cavegirl bikini in One Million Years B.C. to cover star Madeline Smith vamping it up in Taste the Blood of Dracula to double trouble with Mary and Madeleine Collinson in Twins of Evil and so on. Hammer Glamour is 160 pages long and includes (in alphabetical order) a profile of 50 Hammer actresses - who all get a photo montage and a short biography. There are also some interviews too in the book which are often very interesting and allow the reader to pick up some thoughts about the rise and fall of the studio and life on the set from people who were there.
The pictures are a mixture of colour and b&w and there are some great images taken from the shooting of the films. Interestingly, we learn in the book that Hammer actresses were often photographed by 'glamour magazines' during production on the set as publicity for the upcoming film and the studio can certainly be credited with one or two famous discoveries.
Stars of Hammer Glamour include Stephanie Beacham (Dracula A.D. 1972), Kate O'Mara (The Vampire Lovers, The Horror of Frankenstein), Hazel Court (The Curse of Frankenstein, The Man Who Could Cheat Death), Barbara Shelley (The Camp on Blood Island, The Secret of Blood Island, Dracula Prince of Darkness, Rasputin the Mad Monk, Quatermass and the Pit) and Martine Beswicke (One Million Years B.C., Slave Girls, Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde). The studio was not far off the Bond series when it came to finding young models and beautiful women to put in their films.
It's interesting to read how some of these women drifted out of the film and television industry and how some had enduring careers beyond it or even - as in the case of Raquel Welch - became big stars because of their Hammer exposure. Welch's bronzed cavegirl with sea shell accessories and fur lined underwear immediately made her a sixties icon not far behind Ursula Andress (yet another star of Hammer Glamour) as Honey Ryder and Jane Fonda as Barbarella.
Actresses worth a mention in any review of Hammer Glamour are the Norwegian pin-up Julie Ege, of Creatures the World Forgot and the outrageously daft and enjoyable The Legend Of the Seven Golden Vampires, and the Collinson twins from Twins of Evil. The Collinson twins were petite glamour models from Malta and are showcased here in all their early seventies identical fanged glory. It appears though that Twins of Evil marked the beginning of the end of their flirtation with fame as they didn't do any other pictures and both eventually went off to be 'normal' people (so to speak) with marriages and children instead of taking their clothes off for films and magazines.
I think if you asked me who my favourite ever Bond girl was I'd probably say Diana Rigg but picking a favourite Hammer actress is even more difficult. I didn't know, for example, that Nastassja Kinski had been in a Hammer film (To the Devil a Daughter) and there are many other famous names here that I'd almost forgotten had worked with the studio like Joanna Lumley, Stefanie Powers and Diana Dors.
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Certainly Madeline Smith, of Taste the Blood of Dracula, The Vampire Lovers, Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell (not to mention Live and Let Die and several seventies Frankie Howerd specials) would be a strong contender for favourite Hammer actress and has a superb section here. Another great Hammer star was 'brunette bombshell' Caroline Munro, who featured in Dracula A.D. 1972 and Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter. Munro has a fantastic still poster shot here as an alluring vampire and seems, from her biography and filmography, to be one of those people who could have been a bigger star if they'd wanted to.
Like Madeline Smith, Munro was a Bond girl (the cheeky helicopter pilot who winks at Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me) and did Frankie Howerd specials. Although Ingrid Pitt is probably the actress most associated with Hammer, Madeline Smith and Caroline Munro are the first names I tend to think of.
All of the actresses receive a full page photograph and then three or four smaller ones to accompany the bits and pieces of text. You get a list of the Hammer films they appeared in too to go with the frequently wonderful stills and images. Among the more eye-catching photographs (besides the Caroline Munro full page image) include Yutte Stensgaard posing on red sheets and Valerie Leon in a black bikini.
The book is well designed and has an attractive layout and it's certainly fun to be reminded of just how many actresses actually did a Hammer film at some point or other and pick up a few factual details in the process. Who else is here that I haven't mentioned yet? The list is long but you also get - amongst many others - profiles and great stills of Catherine Schell, Judy Geeson, Shirley Anne Field, Jenny Hanley, Victoria Vetri and Shirley Eaton who - in addition to her stint at Hammer - famously met a gold paint themed demise in Goldfinger with Sean Connery.
The cross-pollination between Hammer and the Bond series is quite interesting as you flick through the various actresses although perhaps unsurprising as both franchises were British based and required a regular influx of young model type women for their pictures. Hammer Glamour is a lot of fun overall. The book is packed with stills and pictures, is well designed and includes some nice interviews and profiles. This is certainly a book that any Hammer fan would be happy to own.

- Jake

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