The Rashomon-like legal battle between Phillipe Martinez’s Ulysse Entertainment and his former business partners at Arthur Pictures and Paca Finance Counseil took a new turn Friday afternoon when Martinez countered accusations that he swindled his former partners.

In a suit filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Martinez and his companies were charged with double-selling rights, making death threats, and absconding with $ 300,000.

The document also outlined a sting operation that Martinez purportedly worked on his former partners. An L.A. Superior Court judge subsequently agreed to place a temporary restraining order on two films that stand at the core of this battle, “Getting In” and “The Night and the Moment.”

Plans fight

In response, Martinez told Daily Variety that he plans to fight the charges in a March 10 hearing. He claims he has evidence to show that his former partners Elisabeth Martin and Pierre Novat have nibbled away at the $ 300,000 themselves and that their legal maneuvers are nothing more than an AFM-timed attempt to break his company and launch a hostile takeover.

The Ulysse principal also went to great lengths to point out that his present legal problems have no bearing on deals with existing buyers.

Back to court

“On March 10,” said Martinez, “we will go back into court and we will show that all the things they have accused us of: double-selling, death threats and taking $ 300,000 are untrue. And in fact we intend to prove that half that sum was taken by Pierre Novat, one quarter was taken by Paca Finance. We only owe one quarter.”

Stephen Chrystie, of the law firm Chrystie & Berle, is repping both plaintiffs and he doesn’t believe Martinez’s story washes. “That story is pure foolishness,” says Chrystie. “Our clients merely want to get their money and stay as far away from this character as they can.

“From what we’ve been able to learn, taking over this company would be a quick way to assume a large amount of unpaid bills. Since the newspaper articles (Daily Variety, Feb. 25), a half-dozen other creditors have called me with similar tales of woe about non-payment.”

Martinez also acquired new legal counsel Friday when Schulyer Moore of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan withdrew from the case. Century City-based attorney John S. Mumford will now be repping Ulysse Entertainment.

Martinez disputed claims made in court papers that Ulysse Entertainment took funds from a City National Bank escrow account by forging the signature of Martin, saying it was untrue. “It’s very simple,” says Martinez, “Ms. Martin did sign those documents and we will prove this in court.”

As of Friday, John Hyde took over as official receiver of the two films being offered at AFM, the Lena Olin and Willem Dafoe vehicle, “The Night and the Moment,” and “Getting In.” Aside from the dammaging financial potential of the well-publicized restraining order,

Ulysse’s Martinez also felt that his family had been damaged in the court document. Charges that he faces arrest and detention in his native France if he does not come up with a payment of 800,000 francs by the end of month were particularly upsetting to the producer.

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