As actress Caroline Munro herself points out in the introduction, this book, Caroline Munro, First Lady Of Fantasy by Robert Michael “Bobb” Cotter, this is not a biography. Considering she’s doing an autobiography herself at the time of this book’s release in 2012 that would have made this book a bit problematic. It is in fact very much akin to ‘Ingrid Pitt, Queen Of Horror’, the book I reviewed last month, following her career through films and television.
Cotter is amazed how self-depreciating Munro actually is. From a British point of view, I find this atypical as most of us over here never take anything for granted, lest of all our egos, let alone anyone else being interested in the background of our careers. Acting, for many, is the job. Anything else is an odd side benefit that we rarely let go to our heads. Looking at the films here, I suspect Munro is surprised how much her screen presence has drawn approval for only spot appearances much of the time. The lady has smouldering appeal with a cheeky grin wink. What’s not to like?
Munro’s acting career developed from her being a model and directors who liked pretty faces and figures in their films. As such, most of her early appearances were amongst other pretty faces until she was brought to the fore in ‘A Talent For Loving’ aka ‘Gun Crazy’ (1969) as her formal introduction. The next two films ‘Where’s Jack? (1969) and ‘The Abominable Dr. Phibes’ (1971) literally had sleeping through both roles. ‘Phibes’, I knew as it’s a favourite Vincent Price film, but the other one less so. I never thought of Vulnavia as supposed to be a physical replica of Victoria Phibes. These days, I suspect the role would have gone to the same actress even if it might have caused confusion as to why a comatose woman was still walking around.
Gleaning out facts from the book is interesting. ‘The Golden Voyage of Sinbad’ (1974) has an unexpected Munro bust exposure although unless you have an unedited version, I doubt you’d spot it even then. Munro’s first TV appearance was in ‘The Howerd Confessions’ in 1976 with comedian Frankie Howerd.
The photos of the actresses from ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ drew my attention because the one that is supposed to be Valerie Leon couldn’t be as she has a more impressive bustline. A quick scurry around on the Net didn’t reveal who the bottom middle lady to be though or rather it did but I wasn’t one hundred per cent certain.
A lot of Munro’s later roles have essentially been a few minutes screen time, putting me in mind of Dick Miller as a lucky charm appearance. There is also a look at her model work and either my town was poster free, too young or I wasn’t paying attention, but this is the first time that I’ve actually seen a picture of her rum advert.
I think Cotter has learnt from his previous book and drastically reduced the size of the synopsises, often relying on the original pressbook details and giving more room for the reviews. There are also a lot of photos. The film posters aren’t the standard ones and often you’re presented with foreign film posters allowing you to see the more unusual ones which gave emphasis to her being in them.
For an actress who’s got a known face but so few major parts, it’s amazing how long Caroline Munro’s career survived, especially as she avoided the easy route of disrobing. If you’re a fan of her work or only know her for the cheeky wink in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’, then having a walk through her career is going to make you very happy.
(pub: McFarland. 212 page illustrated and indexed enlarged paperback. Price: £38.50 (UK), $45.00 (US). ISBN: 978-0-7864-6882-9)