30 June, 2014

Review: LES GRANDES EMMERDEUSES (1974) Updated Archived Review

 [This is an updated review originally published in the MOBIUS HOME VIDEO FORUM: EUROPEAN CULT CINEMA in Nov. 1999. Thanks to John Charles]

Image result for les grandes emmerdeuses

This is a delightfully sleazy Jess Franco nudie comedy romp, and I use the word "romp" with no irony intended. Jess directed under his "Clifford Brown" pseudo, and he probably forgot about it the day after shooting was completed. It all looks like it was shot in two and a half days in Super 8MM at some hotel in France where the film crew was probably hiding out from the cops. Lina Romay and Pamela Stanford (Lorna, the Exorcist herself!) jiggle their merry ways through this sleek put-on concerning two almost always naked diamond smugglers (guess where they hide the diamonds) who travel to Istanbul where they hope to fence the jewels. Hot on the trail are a pair of bumbling Interpol agents (Franco regulars Bigotini [rn Rick Deconninck]and Ramon Ardid) under the supervision of the director himself in a cameo that was probably dictated by lack of a casting budget. The women manage to elude their pursuers but run into the massive Radeck (amusingly incarnated by the spherical Victor Mendes) a sort of gangster-mad scientist who has developed a hairy monstrosity to whom our heroines will be fed if they don't deliver. 

It's all wild and crazy fun, part slapstick comedy, part porn, part Z grade Eurocrime, part horror parody, filmed with little or no budget, with plenty of those trademark zooms and without even the bare basics of a camera tripod or lights. The exteriors are mostly shot from a moving car and one can imagine the director hanging out the window with his hand held camera, zooming in and out of every object which caught his attention- a tree here, a bridge there, and so forth. All this will probably drive those insisting on the "well made film" up the proverbial wall, but I loved every minute of it. 

 Pamela Stanford [rn Monique Delaunay] in cat disguise...

 Lina and Pamela seem a lot more comfortable nude than most actresses do fully clothed, having a ball running around like hopped-up sprites, playing sexy tricks on the villains and donning bizarre disguises (Stanford has an outrageous wrap-around cat mask which she puts on before going into action). Franco provides a circular, interactive structure by beginning and ending with the ladies assuming sexy poses, teasing the viewer by looking directly into the camera and telling us of how their latest adventure went down. I was particularly amused by a scene of the elephantine Radeck attempting a melancholy tune at the piano in his castle.* This is a typically obscure in-joke which only those thoroughly immersed in Franco's alternate universe will catch on to. Others will stare in wordless amazement that this bleary trifle has even survived. I just kick back and enjoy

*This piece will be familiar to Jess Franco archaeologists. It's also heard under the credits of LE MIROIR OBSCENE and in LES GLOUTONNES (both 1973) and other Jess Franco related titles.

(C) Robert Monell, 2014

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