Thursday, December 30, 2010

Madame Claude

Madame Claude / Madame Claude.
    FR 1977. PC: Orphée Arts (Paris). P: Claire Duval. D: Just Jaeckin. SC: André G. Brunelin, Just Jaeckin – based on the novel Alo oui, les mémoires de Madame Claude (1975) by Jacques Quoirez. DP: Robert Fraisse – Eastmancolor. AD: Maurice Sergent. COST: Zorica Lozic, Edith Wattinne. Make-up: Marie-Madeleine Paris. M: Serge Gainsbourg. Song: "Yesterday Yes A Day" – Serge Gainsbourg, sung by Jane Birkin. S: Daniel Brisseau. ED: Marie-Sophie Dubus.
    CAST: Françoise Fabian (Madame Claude), Dayle Haddon (Elizabeth), Murray Head (David Evans), Klaus Kinski (Alexander Zakis), Vibeke Knudsen (Anne-Marie), Maurice Ronet (Pierre), Robert Webber (Howard), Jean Gaven (Gustave Lucas), André Falcon (Paul), François Perrot (Lefevre), Marc Michel (Hugo), Roland Bertin (Soulier), Ed Bishop (Smith), Karl Held (Stanfield), Ylva Setterborg (Jill), Marie-Christine Deshayes (Florence). 112 min.
    A vintage Columbia Pictures release print with Finnish / Swedish subtitles (n.c.) viewed at Cinema Orion (Serge Gainsbourg), Helsinki, 30 Dec 2010

Based on the true story of Madame Claude, a fearless Resistance veteran who ran in the 1960s and the 1970s a de luxe call girl service whose clients included reportedly people like President Kennedy, King Faruk, leading gangsters and police officials. She went out of business when tax officials noticed she never paid taxes.

1. Just Jaeckin's film adaptation is a case of erotic exploitation, mixing gloss with sleaze.
2. Françoise Fabian gives a spirited performance as the tough Madame who grooms and drills her girls mercilessly but provides them with generous earnings.
3. The plot is merely a pretext for extended beautiful soft-core sex scenes, including a memorable bathtub sequence.
4. The funniest scene is Madame Claude's visit to her female dentist whose erotic train encounter with an unseen stranger is shown in flashback. The voluptuous dentist would be interested in doing gigs for Madame Claude, but she is rejected, because she enjoys sex too much.
5. A new girl comes to Madame Claude, believing the lady is interested in an affair with her. For a moment Madame Claude is confused since she is not used to fulfillment of desire without payment. - "You don't sell yourself. You sell dreams."
6. For Madame Claude there is no pleasure in sex. "Only once has a man brought me pleasure. It was humiliating". - "Am I supposed to pretend?" "Sometimes you have to." - "A woman enjoys only occasionally."
7. "What do you want?" "Power. Over men. They rule the world".
8. The thriller aspect is half baked.
9. Just Jaeckin's rendition of high finance and politics (his account of the Lockheed bribery scandals) is impossible to take seriously. It's a pity, because the truth was even stranger than this fiction.
10. From the heavily used 33 year old print it is still possible to appreciate the lush visualization of the original cinematography.

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