JOHN PHILLIP LAW: DIABOLIK ANGEL
By Carlos Aguilar & Anita Haas
240 pages; softcover; 1st Edition 2008
The husband and wife writing duo of Carlos Aguilar and Anita Haas (there first, of thus far, two collaborations) have compiled a sumptuous, encyclopedic volume on cult film actor, John Phillip Law. If the career-spanning interview weren't comprehensive enough, biographical information about Mr. Law are positioned between chapters, segueing into the next phase of the interview; and always accompanied by rare images and personal photographs. Moreover, dozens of behind the scenes photos and promotional stills complete what is, without doubt, one of the finest film reference books ever written on a single actor. To sweeten the deal, there's a Foreword by Ray Harryhausen and bilingual text in both Spanish and English. Diabolik Angel gets the highest recommendation in either language.
Most fans know John Phillip Law from such films as the gritty western, DEATH RIDES A HORSE (1967); the colorful action-heist adventure, DANGER: DIABOLIK (1968); the erotic SciFi of BARBARELLA (1968); and fantasy spectacle of THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1974). Having starred in near 60 movies, much of his filmography hasn't been widely discussed outside of the few mentioned above. One of their two collaborations thus far, the husband and wife writing team of Carlos Aguilar and Anita Haas rectify that with a fantastic look into the life of John Phillip Law as told in the man's own words.
Aside from the usual suspects, you'll learn what it was like working with the quirky Bobby Suarez in the Philippines; playing Count Dracula on stage; and witnessing an orangutan becoming amorous with Bo Derek on TARZAN, THE APE MAN (1981). Having made movies in dozens of countries the world over, the esteemed subject has great affection for his experiences, explaining the highs and lows of a life that is bigger than the movies themselves.
Moreover, Mr. Law is very candid and blunt not only about other actors and directors, but about his wild love life and relationships with some of his lead actresses. The authors know the man's filmography extremely well and keep the conversation on a constant plane of fascination. There's never a dull moment. Mr. Law worked all around the world and even if some of his work isn't of interest to you, reading about his experiences on those pictures will keep you as riveted as the productions of familiarity.
Possessing a startling acuteness for details, Mr. Law reminisces on a variety of topics, never at a loss for words on any of them. Sadly, John Phillip Law would pass away May 13th, 2008 at age 70 before the book was published--making Diabolik Angel a document of great importance.
As with their book on the underrated (in America) director Eugenio Martin (you can read the review of the recent revised, updated edition HERE), the devotion to the subject by Aguilar and Haas is noticeable on every page. The design and layout of Javier G. Romero is, like the Eugenio Martin book, of an equally high-quality standard. Diabolik Angel an utterly captivating volume on an actor who was never a huge star, but one who enjoyed a grandiose, cultured life on the international film scene. An American actor, John Phillip Law enjoyed his greatest success in Europe; so it's only fitting that two Spanish authors have given him, and his fans, such a marvelous "last will and testament".
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