To put Barbarella (October, 1968) in context, it was released in the wake of T.V.'s Star Trek (September, 1966) and Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (April, 1968), both of which would change the face of modern Science Fiction. Barbarella at least gave space a little pizzazz that the others lacked, and a jauntier score to boot.
ane Fonda had married French director Roger Vadim on August 14, 1965. Together, they embarked on an attempt to change her image in Hollywood. First, they made The Game is Over (June, 1966), and then participated in the psychedelic AIP 3-parter Spirits of the Dead (October, 1967), before deciding on a big screen adaption of Jean-Claude Forest’s sexy-comic-book Barbarella (1962). Vadim & Fonda soon parted, and eventually divorced on January 16, 1973.
The most top-billed Spaghetti actor of Barbarella was fledgling American John Phillip Law of the Russians are Coming, The Russians Are coming! (1966). Ms. Fonda and co-star John Phillip Law had just made Paramount Pictures' Hurry Sundown (February, 1967), and the studio wisely paired them into a second feature, Barbarella.
Following Barbarella, Paramount immediately put the towering Law into their next Italo pop-pic, Mario Bava's Danger: Diabolik (January, 1968 / May, 1968, U.S.). Then, Mr. Law played second fiddle to Lee Van Cleef in UA's actioner, Death Rides a Horse (August, 1967 / June, 1969). Of interest much later, in the mid-nineties, Mr. Law appeared in an episode of the German-Poland-Russia-U.K T.V. series Alaska Kid (1993).
The second Spaghetti actor to get cast in Barbarella was Sicilian-born newcomer Antonio Sabato. Antonio Sabato? What?? Where??? Vadim wanted Sabato, who was hot off of Grand Prix (December, 1966), to play the scatterbrained revolutionary Dildano, but Paramount wanted, or rather needed a stronger name for the U.S. market. They chose and had Vadim re-shoot all of Sabato's scenes with the British actor, David Hemmings. For years, it was thought the Sabato footage had survived the upheaval in the Italian version, but this appears not to have been the case.
Part 2 to follow tomorrow.