19 July, 2021

LES GRANDES EMMERDEUSES (Clifford Brown, 1974)

LES GRANDES EMMERDEUSES (Clifford Brown, 1974)

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Les Grandes Emmerdeuses
1974 82m. ETC Video (U.S. import). Directed by Clifford Brown. Produced by Robert de Nesle-C.F.F.P-Paris; Screenplay by David Khunne; DP: Etienne Rosenfeld; Louis Soulanes; Music: Andre Benichou [Robert Viger?]; P: Ramon Ardid. Eastmancolor.

ABOVE: Bach-rock composer-guitarist Andre Benichou; who also scored Jess Franco’s LORNA, THE EXORCIST (1974); THE OBSCENE MIRROR (1973); EXORCISME (1974); among other titles.

Cast: Lina Romay (Pina) Pamela Stanford [Monique Delaunay] (Tina), Willy Braque [Guy Peraud] (Insurance agent), Raymond Hardy [ Ramon Ardid] (Agent Perez), Monica Swinn (Kashfi), Lise Franval [Lisa Ferrera] (Martine), Richard de Conninck (Interpol Agent 0069), Fred Williams, Susuki (Radeck’s female friend), Jess Franco(Martin)


A couple of air-headed diamond smugglers, Pina (Lina Romay) and Tina (Pamela Stanford), disguised as Interpol agents, travel to Portugal to fence the jewels (guess where they hide the gems), as two Interpol agents track them. The women are captured by a criminal gang also on the trail of the diamonds. The women manage to elude their pursuers through the use of the oldest trick in the book: sex. A much more sexually explicit “Red Lips” style crime adventure than such titles as the 1960 LABIOS ROJOS or ROTE LIPPEN/ El caso de las dos bellezas (1967) [TWO UNDERCOVER ANGELS], this has never had a HQ video* or any DVD release of which I am aware.Les emmerdeuses.jpg

ABOVE: Lina Romay as Pina,  one of our charming diamond smugglers, in LES GRANDES EMMERDUESES/LES EMMERDEUSES.

This minor spy/sex comedy-adventure starts as an almost-hardcore romp with the camera zooming into close-ups of our heroines’ pudendum, as they talk directly to the audience and explain how they eluded ruthless international criminals and got away with a stash of diamonds. This kind of interactive cinema, a sexual come-on for the raincoat crowd, also can be found in Franco’s MIDNIGHT PARTY (1975), which opens with Lina Romay stimulating herself and the audience as she directly addresses them. Franco's films are more often than not about "performance" and the interaction between the audience and the performer both within the context of the film and in relation to the viewer of the film. The actresses verbally identify their characters as Interpol agents but it could be all a put-on. They even joke about "James Bond" as if to comment on the long running European Bond spoofs. Franco doesn't usually stay within the confines of whatever genre he is working in, he breaks its boundaries making yet another "Jess Franco" film, a genre in itself.

The film is amusing, mainly due to the charms of Lina Romay and Pamela Standford, who really  seem to be enjoying teasing the camera/audience. It’s a lot of harmless fun in a Eurospy masque. Franco also hams it up with his telezoom lens, which is as overactive as ever, zooming in on everything from jets passing overhead to more intimate places. Romay spends most the time nude (except for black gloves pulled up to her elbows), while Stanford dons an outrageous wrap-around cat mask and leopard skin tights in order to distract the enemy.

The Eurospy element is confined to the presence of, bumbling police agents,  played by Franco regulars Bigotini and Ramón Ardid, who both look like they had a ball during the shoot. There’s a mad scientist subplot (featuring a Doctor Radeck. Who else?) and even a kind of Frankenstein creature  (the Duranstein monster) who must be dealt with (cf THE EROTIC RITES OF FRANKENSTEIN-1972, which, in comparison, looks like it was set, and made in 1872!).

Franco recycles some of the score from his sexy peplum LES GLOUTONNES (1973). Curiously enough, the music is credited to Robert Viger in that film, while here Andre Benichou is listed as the composer. The same haunting piano theme in LES GRANDES EMMERDEUSES can also be heard in several other Franco titles from that period, including the opening credit sequence in LE MIROIR OBSCENE (1974). It is repeated as a guitar-driven acid rock theme throughout the film.*  Some of the director’s freewheeling camera antics recall certain 16mm experimental features of the 1960s New York Underground (Jack Smith, Andy Warhol).

[Additional comments to my original 1999 published review:
Seeing this over 15 years later made me appreciate Franco’s sheer creativity in the face of dire poverty all the more. It looks like this was shot in Super 8mm, or maybe just regular 8mm! I highly doubt there was a formal script and most of it takes place in cheap looking hotel rooms (hmmm… where I have seen those rooms before?). The ladies search for jewels secreted in a phallus, which is also sought by the male agents. In the meantime the monster is deployed. The “thing” is created by yet another evil “Radeck” who uses it to threaten our heroines. It’s really just a very ugly guy (I hesitate to use the word “actor”).

Jess Franco appears as a sort of spy-master, but looks really spaced out or hyped up on something, pacing around yet another sleazy hotel room somewhere in Portugal or the South of France. Willy Braque (Guy Peraud), a familiar face from a number of Jean Rollin films (DEMONIACS, LIPS OF BLOOD), is even stranger looking than Jess Franco! This guy looks like he hasn’t had a decent meal in his life. In other words, he’s perfectly credible as the “connection” Kashfi.

Don’t expect to see this on R1 DVD anytime soon. But you never know…

And over ten years on I still can’t get over Pamela Stanford’s cat mask.

Filmed in Cascais, Portugal. 

*Thanks to the BACH CANTATA WEBSITE for crediting my musical research on this film’s score on my Jess Franco blog http://www.robertmonell.blogspot.com. It’s becoming a rare pleasure to be fully credited for Internet writing in our age of impatient Social Media hijacking, if not piracy. So, I tip my hat to them.

Andre Benichou (Electric Guitar, Arranger) – Short Biography

Source: Robert Monell Blog (2007); IMDB Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (July 2008)

New Version: (C) Robert Monell


André Bénichou: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works
Bach-Benichou: PT – Works | PT- Recordings

1 comment:

dfordoom said...

Franco recycles some of the score from his sexy peplum LES GLOUTONNES (1973)

A Jess Franco sexy peplum? I have to see that.