30 January, 2008


Contact Interpol immediately if you have seen this couple!

Please look over to our sidebar slideshow which contains a couple of examples of the crystal clear video quality of the EUGENIE DE SADE DVD from Blue Underground, which was taken from a pristine 1984 element. Onscreen title: EUGENIA.

Jess Franco's heartfelt 1970 modern day adaptation of Sade's 1788 "Moral Tale" EUGENIE DE FRANVAL, is actually an immoral tale which Sade himself wrote was about "the dangers of libertinage" a sort of cautionary tale. "To instruct man and correct his morals: such is the sole goal we set for ourselves in this story" is the opening sentence and it is a harrowing tale of transgression, murder and fate.

Under the opening credits Eugenie Radeck (Soledad Miranda) and her stepfather Albert (Paul Muller), a writer of essays on eroticism, are seen seducing and murdering a woman in the bedroom of their Berlin villa. It is actually film footage, recorded by the criminal couple, being watched by the writer-investigator Attila Tanner (Jess Franco), in his projection room. The remainder of the film is a long flasback which incorporates another Sade text DIALOGUE BETWEEN A PRIEST AND A DYING MAN (in this case a dying woman). This 1782 text was adapted into a sequence in Luis Bunuel's 1972 THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOUSIE.

Paul Muller informed me that the January 1970 shoot was in chaos over the lack of funds and the fact that the director was also filming at least one other project simultaneously, not to mention that there was no completed script, only last minute pages handed to the cast after Franco had scribbled them on set. Yet the finished film is a model of coherence in terms of thematic and character development and the episodic structure actually works in its favor. Made after Franco's artistically compromised EL CONDE DRACULA, EUGENIE DE SADE both confirms the erotic dynamism Soledad Miranda evidenced in that misguided production and once again illustrates that the director's best work is usually done in low budget set ups where he works like a jazz improvisationist rather than a symphony conductor. Perhaps Muller's professional anxiety over all this worked its way into his performance, which is a sharp edged portrait of a human monster, perhaps his finest in a very long career. There's an electric tension in his intellectual duels with Franco's Attila Tanner.

This is down-market Franco, the Real Thing. Some of the Bruno Nicolai cues are recycled from Franco's 1969 EUGENIE...HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION, but they work just as well in this context. Curiously, the photography credit, to "Man Merin" (Manuel Merino) and a "J.F. Manner" (Jesus Franco Manera?) listed as Special Consultant, are names which don't appear on the two previous DVD prints or any of the numerous video prints that have been around for years.

At nearly 91 minutes this is at least 5 minutes longer than the previous US DVD. The color scheme is more apparent than previous prints have indicated, especially the use of red and black costumes in various scenes. Of course, many consider this to be Soledad Miranda's best performance and signature role. I was struck this time by Jess Franco's Attila Tanner, a disturbing inquisitor, ambiguous at his core. In some ways, he could be considered the main character, and it's through his eyes we witness the story as it's related to him. In a sense the film visualizes an almost Hithcockian transference of guilt scenario and the weight of the truth seems to bear heavily on Tanner in the last shot, and the fact that Franco's friend, discovery and leading actress for six films would be dead in eight months time adds an even more macabre twist. Soledad Miranda is listed as Susan Korday on this print, not Susan Korda.

The murder of a model (Alice Arno) in Brussels baffles the police.

The new Blue Underground EUGENIE DE SADE DVD presentation contains the longest, cleanest, highest definition transfer yet of this key 1970 Sade adaptation and is presented widescreen 1.66:1/16:9 for the first time on a US R0 disc. It also is presented with an English track (which is painfully misbegotten in terms of voice casting and dialogue)and a superior French language option. The previous US DVD did not have a French language option and that makes a huge difference. It's certainly an improvement on every level over every previous DVD presentation. The fact that all the grain has been washed out and that all the previous scratches, speckling, splices, which always made it seem like a grindhouse artifact, are gone, may allow one to forget that it was originally targeted at and played in international grindhouse venues.

A 20 minute interview with Jess Franco covering his lifelong fascination with Sade and relationship with Miranda and a very lurid, English language trailer ("Based on the Marquis de Sade; freely adapted to our times...submission to the point of murder!")which has some alternate footage. I'm not sure if this trailer was made in the 70's or 80's but it's a terrific extra.

(C) Robert Monell, 2008


Douglas A. Waltz said...

Hey Robert!
Have you seen this sale over at ebay?
Seems Something Weird Video has some outtakes from Diabolical Dr. Z in 35mm format and are trying to get rid of them. Is that weird (no pun intended) or is it just me?

Anonymous said...

Robert, this is one of my favorite Franco's and I can't wait for my DVD to arrive. I had the Wild East DVD already and I'm particularly interested in the French audio as well as the extra 5 minutes or so on this pristine print. New to the blog but i must say it's great and I'll be stopping back often!

Robert Monell said...

Doug: I'd be interested to know exactly what these outtakes consist of, alternate scenes or botched takes? I'll check it out, thanks.

Robert Monell said...

Mark: Welcome to the blog and hope to see you here often. Yes, it's a great film, one of JF's best. And the French track is far superior the English one. In fact, I wouldn't watch it any other way. I'm happy they decided to go with it as well as the Eng.

Anonymous said...

I'm really looking forward to seeing this! Naturally no local stores or rental places carry it so I'm going to have to order it online. My usual local stops for DVDs have totally gone down hill or closed their doors in the last 3-4 months. Even online rental places don't seem to carry many movies released by boutique labels anymore, which is a shame. Anyway, thanks for sharing this great overview of the new DVD Robert!

Robert Monell said...

Thanks for your always welcome comments, Cinebeats. Your comments about the increasing difficulty of finding boutique labels in retail outlets, even in a large metro area, are interesting. I remember getting BU's VENUS IN FURS and 99 WOMEN at a local BEST BUY, but everything has changed now. Sometimes BORDER's carries Franco titles in cult movie sections, but generally you have to special order them.

Anonymous said...

What can you tell me about this soundtrack to this EUGENIE? Is this score cobbled together from other sources? And if so, what are they? Is there a soundtrack CD? Thank you in advance for any consideration you may give this query. And keep up the great blogging!

Anonymous said...

I am really most interested in the main theme that is repeated throughout the film - the female vocal (Edda Del'Orso?) and the soft electric guitar. Much appreciation for any help on this.

Unknown said...

DVDBeaver comparison here (http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film2/DVDReviews35/eugenie_de_sade.htm)

Robert Monell said...

Anonymous, some of the Nicolai cues are from his score for EUGENIE..HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION made the year before. He often repeated some cues in subsequent library scores.