11 July, 2006

PLAISIR A TROIS: The Film & The DVD

PLAISIR A TROIS is a wickedly droll and amoral "morality" play, a chamber piece after Sade's PHILOSOPHY IN THE BOUDOIR, but very different in tone and style from his other adaptations of that work: EUGENIE...HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION (1970), COCKTAIL SPECIAL (1978) and EUGENIE, HISTORIA UNA PERVERSION (1980), all of which deal with the supposed corruption of the innocent "Eugenie", here named Cecile. A sexually voracious woman and her male consort direct the proceedings only to have the tables turned on them at the last moment. PLAISIR was shot in Portugal and Spain at the same time as the production of LA COMTESSE PERVERSE, this was 1973 a year of white hot creativity for JF during which he made 12 feature films, not counting alternate versions! Shot under the title OUTRE-TOMBE this is another Franco study of the artist-as-killer or vice versa. Martine (Alice Arno, rn:Marie-France Broquet) produces human sculptures of her female victims after torturing them to death with whips, chains and the rack. Her male lover (Robert Woods), a mute sex slave (Lina Romay), the chauffeur (Howard Vernon) and the gardener (the delightfully diminutive Alfred Baillou) all know about the murder spree and more or less enable Martine's sick agenda. Cecile, who lives nearby with her wealthy parents, will be the next victim...

Working with the same cast as LA COMTESSE PERVERSE Franco delivers a similarly disturbing comedie noire from a familiar text. We first see Martine in action as she castrates a brutal lover, filmed in a Wellesian canted camera setup. Her museum of the tortured dead is one of the highpoints, discovered in a series of wide-angle compositions and fluid shots which seem to make the grotesque sculptures spontaneously revive the moment they are touched by Martine's perverse caresses. The Bressac villa is deconstructed via the use of cubist set-ups which Franco defiles by surging telezooms which discover further cubist constructs within the already claustrobic mise en scene. The striptease marathon set in the clammy basement lit by a red gel is also a coup de cinema as well as the more subtle rummagings of Franco's restless camera, ever anxious to find new perspectives and relationships between human and artifical forms. The bizarre score features what sounds like kazoos overcome by hard rock guitar interludes. The lush greenery of the locale is a constant counterpoint to the sordid human actions which seem conditioned by the semi-tropical environment. The performances are good, if not outstanding, especially Romay's mute, as in LA COMTESSE NOIRE she seems to completely lose herself when she doesn't have to deal with dialogue. Arno's and Woods' voyuerism involving optical aids are further distanced by the fact that they are also always being watched by the prying eyes of their servants. As always, Franco's films are first and foremost about the art of "watching" some kind of transgressive performance. Sade would have understood Franco's cinema very well as Franco understands that there are no temporal/spatial/philosophical boundries in the fantasy matrix of the Divine Marquis. GEMIDOS DE PLACER (1981)is a loose remake of this film featuring extended plan sequences in an even more radical sytlistic experiment. This must see film was released in Spain in what have become knows as "Spanish newstand DVD." We will take a close look at that presentation and the film itself in the future...

The DVD: I would imagine a vault element transfer which would unleash the lush hues and layered soundscape of the environment backgrounded by the over-the-top score. In original French with new English subtitles supervised by the film's adaptor, Alain Petit. Petit, a noted film historian, author of the seminal Franco study THE MANACOA files, writer-actor-director on Franco related projects, is a living treasure trove of insight and arcane information on the career of Jess Franco in general and on the making of this film in particular. He would be featured in a Making of...documentary, interviewed along with Franco himself, Lina Romay and, if they can be located, Alice Arno and Robert Woods. And if the extremely truncated English language version HOW TO SEDUCE A VIRGIN could be found, then we would have a 2 Disc SE!

3 comments:

Anthony Thorne said...

Hi Robert,

I like this blog - the design is elegant and thoughtful. I hope you'll feel inclined to post Franco-specific pics as blogger is great for doing that.

I'm looking forward to SUCCUBUS as I've never seen it. I'm also pleased about the Severin film announcement (David Gregory's company) for later erotic Franco titles. The run of Franco on DVD hasn't finished yet.

Hope all is well with you. Melbourne is cold but we are all well here.

best,

Anthony

Robert Monell said...

Welcome Anthony,
Thanks for you positive comments. Good to see you here. I look forward to having some pics here and reporting on future JF DVD presentations. Hope to see you here often. Best Regards, Robert

Jonathan Overholts said...

I wonder if the De Nestle films are still tied up in copyright issues.

The Spanish versions of some of these were released by Kult DVD, but we've yet to see the French versions released on DVD.