20 March, 2008


Christopher Lee, in his memorable crimson smoking jacket, as the vicious Sadean perpetrator/narrator, Dolmance, seen in this vintage advert for Jess Franco's first version of Sade's 1795 literary outrage PHILOSOPHY IN THE BEDROOM.

The Divine Marquis wrote it. Did Brigitte Lahaie refuse a role in it?

[Feuchte Lippen]*

COCKTAIL SPECIAL is a hardcore remake of EUGENIE, THE STORY OF HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION (1970). Actually, the second remake after PLAISIR A TROIS (1973), which also featured some hardcore action, but much less than in this entry.

This may have been chronologically the last film Franco made for the prolific producer Robert de Nesle, who is credited with the script. De Nesle reportedly died in 1978.

The titular drink may be especially disgusting but there are reasons to examine this film, outside of its interest to those who must see each and every film Franco made during his 50 year and still ticking directorial career. Visually exotic, with bizarre masks, strobe lighting, esoteric set-ups, this brief, ingeniously composed adult programmer is interestingly scored by Franco and Daniel White (as Pablo Villa, these delirious cues would be heard in many of his 1980s period films). Touxa Beni is a dark, rather mysterious Eugenie and a makes an equally compelling protagonist as the other actresses (Marie Liljedahl; Alice Arno; Katia Beinert) who have played the role for Franco.

I disagree with the review in OBSESSION: THE FILMS OF JESS FRANCO, which dismisses this film while pushing the suggestion that Franco did not direct it. There may have been some inserts added but there are many trademark Franco images and details.

With Karen Gambier as the most significant eye candy, outside of Ms. Beni, in the film, there's little to behold outside of the endlessly interesting ways Franco finds to illuminate the penniless production, often large lamps are just placed directly behind the actors as the camera shoots into them, breaking one of the cardinal rules of "well made" cinema.

Shot in Portugal, one wonders if this was the film Franco offered to to Brigitte Lahaie in the wake of another de Nesle Portuguese-lensed hardcore, JE BRULE DE PARTOUT [type the title in the blog's search engine for my archived review]; she summarily refused the offer.

One wonders why Franco kept returning to the original Sade story, published as seven "Dialogues" in 1795. Reading it is a shocking experience as one realizes, with reference to the five Jess Franco versions, it's much, much more explicit, violent and transgressive than any or all of them put together. The extended hardcore sequences in this film are very mild in comparison. The final twist in COCKTAIL SPECIAL is that Eugenie's own father is tricked into incest during the masque, but in the Sade original it's Madame de Mistival who ends up as the victim of a brutal physical-sexual assault by Eugenie under the close direction of Dolmance, played by Christopher Lee in the the 1970 version. Eugenie's subsequent dialogue highlights her delight in her role as multiple transgressor.

The final dialogue concludes with the lines which Lee speaks (with acidic irony) in a key scene: "I never dine so heartily, I never sleep so soundly as when I have, during the day, sufficiently befouled myself with what our fools call crimes." That's Entertainment, Sade style.

*[There is only the main title and a FIN card on the print I screened]; most of Franco's de Nesle backed film of this period were signed as Clifford Brown or Jacques Garcia.

Thanks to Francesco Cesari for helping me to see this rarity via DVD-R.

(C) Robert Monell, 2008


ecom said...

"One wonders why Franco kept returning to the original Sade story, published as seven "Dialogues" in 1795."

In my EUGENIE DE SADE review, I suggested that perhaps it was because he felt that the otherwise visually and aurally ravishing DE SADE 70 was compromised by Towers' participation in the script and the cutting. Franco said in an interview that PHILOSOPHY IN THE BOUDOIR could not be filmed faithfully so perhaps his repeated reworkings of it are attempts to get closer to whatever reaction he himself had to the work.

"*[There is only the main title and a FIN card on the print I screened]; most of Franco's de Nesle backed film of this period were signed as Clifford Brown or Jacques Garcia."

My copy has complete credits. It is also supposed to be longer than other versions but I'm sure the final orgy is tacked on from another film (there is the briefest flash of a video company logo before that sequence starts).

Robert Monell said...

That's a good suggestion, ecom, and I tend to agree. The Towers version, from his script, benefits from a good cast and better than average photography [for the usually careless Manuel Merino] and a great score, but it's many steps removed from Sade's forbidding original. It's still a good film. But it's the version of the story which interests me the least as Towers seems to have been more the auteur than Franco. The later ones are indeed more personal and transgressive in numerous ways, and they are all done in different styles: cubism [Plaisir a trois]; minimalism [Coctail special] and surrealism [Eugenie, una historia di una perversion-1980]. The series demonstrates Franco's evolving aesthetic.

The version of CS I have seems to last just over 70m. PAL, how long is yours? And mine also ends with a very hardcore orgy sequence.

ecom said...

I'll have to find it but when I got it I was told that the shorter version ran about 50 minutes so we've probably got the same version.

Lars Jacobsson said...

This was also released in Sweden on the Videorama label - runtime around 70 minutes according to the Mondo Erotico homepage. A very rare release that was discovered just some years back. I actually have this release incoming, it costed $$$ but it's a great addition to my growing Franco collection. Some years ago, If somebody told me I could watch a De Sade-inspired Franco-porno from the 1970s with the help of subtitles in my own home language (i'm swedish) I would have told them get out of here...

Robert Monell said...

There must ba a 50m and 75m version. I don't know why the credits are missing from the version I have.

Anonymous said...

Lars, thanks for the input on the VIDEORAMA. That's the version I have on DVD-R sent to me by Francesco Cesari from Italy. It's in French, I think, with Swedish titles. I didn't realize it was a rarity, but it's pretty good video quality. I think you'll be pleased. I'd be interest to know what the price range was, approximately. Thanks, Bob

scott said...

I got this recently too, but haven't watched it yet. I will soon... I did see JE BRULE DE PARTOUT and wow, what a great Franco gem. I thought it was gonna be awful though but no.. Susan Hemingway..wow!!!

ecom said...

My version runs 64m18s. It seems to actually end at 58m21s with the four characters running down the beach and the camera pans towards the sun (looks like a Franco ending). Then there is a flash of a Proserpine (a French video company) logo and then the orgy. Clifford Brown is credited with "mise en scene".

Robert Monell said...

Scott: Yes, I am also intrigued by JE BRULE... which seems to have been made almost back to back with COCKTAIL SPECIAL, with some of the same locales and cast members. That's why I think that Franco may have been trying to talk Je Brule's Brigitte Lahaie into appearing in the more hardcore COCKTAIL SPECIAL>

ECOM: It's runtime is listed at 75m in OBSESSION, and with the differential that's about how long mine is, but I don't think it has that scene on the beach. So there's at least 3 different versions here.