Don Juan (Or if Don Juan Were a Woman)


1h 27m 1973
Don Juan (Or if Don Juan Were a Woman)

Film Details

Also Known As
Don Juan 1973 ou si Don Juan etait une femme, Don Juan or, If Don Juan Were a Woman
Release Date
1973
Distribution Company
Cocinor

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m

Synopsis

Film Details

Also Known As
Don Juan 1973 ou si Don Juan etait une femme, Don Juan or, If Don Juan Were a Woman
Release Date
1973
Distribution Company
Cocinor

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m

Articles

The Brigitte Bardot Classic Collection - Three Vintage French Films Are Featured in THE BRIGITTE BARDOT CLASSIC COLLECTION


It was brave of Image Entertainment to call its three-DVD set of Brigitte Bardot films "The Brigitte Bardot Classic Collection" and not include in it a single Bardot classic. Not that there were many. No And God Created Woman (Et Dieu crea la femme) (1956). No Contempt (Le mepris) (1963). Not even Viva Maria! (1968). Rather, it contains Plucking the Daisy (En effeuillant la marguerite) (1956), The Night Heaven Fell (Les bijoutiers du clair de lune) (1958) and Don Juan, or If Don Juan Were a Woman (1973). In all, Bardot made 45 films. Or made one film 45 times, depending on your view. Although she retired in 1973 at the age of 39, she remains one of film's iconic sex symbols. She looms almost as large in the history of cinematic exploitation.

It's difficult in this anything-goes age to appreciate Bardot's seismic impact in And God Created Women. Like the 18-year-old Bardot, many a nubile beauty seems to have been born to sun herself on a beach or a rock at St. Tropez, nude. Hundreds have done so at the Cannes Film Festival alone. But the tanned, naked Bardot posing on a sheet generated a perfect storm of meta-epidermal sensuality. She arrived as postwar Europe was shedding the last throes of wartime austerity and America was resuming its long-standing habit of looking to Europe for models of coolness to emulate. Bardot's femme was opposite of fatale. She represented a sexuality that was uncalculated, impulsive, essentially innocent for all its gorgeous lustiness. Unlike so many of the movies' glamour queens, she made sex seem natural – at least to her. This was the basis for her brief status as a poster girl for the New Wave and Cahiers du Cinema cohort. She was hailed as the antithesis of Hollywood's -- and the French studio system's – fabricated allure. To those Young Turks, with their oedipal agenda, she was newness, freshness -- just as, by the merest coincidence, they were. In a still-prudish country, at least in public dialogues, they put sexuality on the table as a subject for debate – legitimately so in the case of film, that most voyeuristic of art forms, enjoyed in the dark, fueled by dreams and fantasy, often sexual. Bardot became sex's logo.

Enter Roger Vadim, son of émigré parents from Kiev, seven years older than Bardot. Before she heated up male libidos on a global scale, Bardot made an impression on the budding litterateur turned would-be filmmaker on the make. According to Parisian showbiz legend, while babysitting for actor-director Daniel Gelin and his actress wife, Danielle Delorme, in 1949, he saw Bardot's face on the cover of Elle, and sprang into action. She was 15 then. They met when she was 17, and her parents wanted no part of him. But he persisted on the amatory and professional fronts, marrying her when she was 18. Bardot made her film debut (uncredited) in Gelin's Les dents longues (Long in the Tooth) (1952). By 1955, Vadim was an assistant to and scriptwriter for established pro Marc Allegret. Bardot got a bigger role in Allegret's Futures Vedettes (1955), with Vadim collaborating on the script. Seven films (but only one year!) later came Plucking the Daisy for Allegret. Two films later came And God Created Woman for Vadim, and Bardot never looked back. Perhaps she should have.

Plucking the Daisy has the charm of the unassuming. Essentially, it's a light-handed, fast-paced boulevard farce involving a young woman blowing the lid off her home town, Vichy (subtext alert!) with a roman a clef based on sharp-eyed candid observation, then going to Paris to make more trouble before returning home to upset further her retired general father before saving the day with a strategically placed striptease. Everybody makes it look easy, Bardot seems to effortlessly project saucy freshness and the others lay in the comic framework around her. It must have helped that she had known and worked with co-star Gelin. She attains a comfort level here that eludes her in most of her subsequent films. Perhaps Allegret realized better than most of her directors, certainly including Vadim, that asking Bardot to pout and act at the same time was unwise. He keeps it simple, keeps her in motion, and the results seem almost lithe compared to most of what followed during what was to be her meteoric career.

Gelin and Robert Hirsch, as a Parisian journalist and his photographer, respectively, contribute a professionally turned sub-Martin & Lewis routine as both chase her after meeting her on a train. Darry Cowl makes his presence felt with an engaging series of off-kilter comic rhythms as Bardot's brother living in Paris and adding to the inevitable misunderstandings as an on-site custodian of a Balzac Museum. And Hollywood veteran Mischa Auer contributes one of his trademark Mad Russian routines as a Parisian taxi driver. Still, the striptease is the money scene here, and Bardot delivers with lubricity and aplomb, reminding us that she didn't come from the world of acting, or performing, but from the world of display, clothed or not. Small wonder that Vadim, in the heat of exploitation, couldn't wait to have her unfurl a table-top tango in And God Created Woman!

The Night Heaven Fell, made only two years later in CinemaScope and color in Spain on a much bigger budget, is frankly a howler, right down to its tagline: The Hottest Exposure Since Man Created Film! The passivity that pervades so much of Bardot's screen acting makes for a total, almost surreal disconnect between what we aren't feeling, and what Bardot's character, Ursula, is supposed to be feeling. On a visit to the hilly estate of her aunt (Alida Valli), the convent-bred Ursula's stress level is pushed so high by her lecherous uncle and later by her noble lover that it isn't long before breast-baring and other skin games ensue before a tragic ending that, to put it softly, is snicker-inducing. Vadim must have looked far and wide to find a male lead as wooden and expressionless as Bardot is here. Stephen Boyd fills the bill as a principled village lad who kills Bardot's uncle for dishonoring Boyd's sister. Being morally doesn't help him with the law. The lovers-on-the-lam stuff reaches its nadir as Boyd's character, Lamberto, flees ever deeper into the mountains with a smitten Ursula in tow, crucifix tastefully inhabiting her cleavage. He moans that they're going nowhere, only to have Ursula, in what is supposed to be a seizure of rapture, exclaim, "If it's with you, it's not nowhere. Je t'aime!"

Nowhere is exactly where the film is located, though. Valli at least enlivens it from time to time as Ursula's embittered aunt, delighted to see her sleazy husband dead until she discovers that Boyd, whom she had her eye on, loves Ursula, not her, whereupon she turns implacable. Vadim isn't a gifted enough director to conceal the fact that everybody is pretty much just phoning it in here. Bardot, already having taken to hiding behind mascara and ever-longer eyelashes, shows more than a few signs of ennui at her trajectory from sex kitten to sex object. Although she throws herself into the film's heavy breathing, it's with the acquiescence of a filmmaker's dutiful wife rather than as a sexual bombshell. She's at her most appealing, in fact, in a couple of scenes with animals, several with a burro, and one in the inevitable bullfight arena scene, where, after burbling, "Looks like fun, I'll give it a try," she hops into the corrida, looks the bull in the eye and croons, "Hello, sweetie!"

If Don Juan Were a Woman, Bardot's next-to-last film, continues a sad downward slide to empty, exhausted rock bottom. In the 15 years separating the two films, Bardot and Vadim divorced, whereupon he transferred his marketing gifts to Catherine Deneuve and Jane Fonda, setting about making them sex symbols, too. Fonda will forever be linked to their spaceship exploitation film, Barbarella (1968). There's a joky reference to "Barbarela III" in If Don Juan Were a Woman. It's the only piece of intentional humor in a film that is both laughably and jaw-droppingly awful. Vadim, once regarded as a harbinger of the new and the revolutionary in film, had long since been quietly dropped by the New Wave. Jean-Luc Godard saw the dead end into which Vadim and Bardot had slid and in 1963 used Bardot in a parody of her nude scene in And God Created Woman in his own masterpiece, Contempt, about the ambivalence attached to the emptiness of commercial filmmaking and the tensions of being married to an actress. Godard called Bardot's character in the film by her real name, Camille Javal.

In Don Juan, Bardot and Vadim seem to be listlessly sifting through the ashes, desperate for the faintest sign of an ember. No luck, with Bardot's Jeanne, who lives in a submarine moored along L'Ile de la Cite, in a lair as tacky as a disco lounge of the period, asking rhetorically, "Why seduce when you can destroy?" Shortly afterward, she proclaims, "I am a spider," and proceeds to work her way through a hubris-ridden cast of characters played by such French A-list stalwarts as Robert Hossein, Mathieu Carriere, and Maurice Ronet. Before she keeps the Don's date with hellfire, she even labors through a scene in which she beds Jane Birkin as a means of taking the wind out of the sails of Birkin's arrogant husband (Hossein). Bardot, looking puffy and sounding as if her mind was in some other galaxy, seems as if she couldn't wait to retire. Vadim should have joined her. Inevitably, he tried a remake of And God Created Woman in 1988, with Rebecca De Mornay. It was an ignominious flop. Bardot in later years became known for her devotion to animal welfare. Vadim died in 2000, a sad example of sensuality ending in entropy.

For more information about The Brigitte Bardot Collection, visit Image Entertainment. To order The Brigitte Bardot Collection, go to TCM Shopping.

by Jay Carr
The Brigitte Bardot Classic Collection - Three Vintage French Films Are Featured In The Brigitte Bardot Classic Collection

The Brigitte Bardot Classic Collection - Three Vintage French Films Are Featured in THE BRIGITTE BARDOT CLASSIC COLLECTION

It was brave of Image Entertainment to call its three-DVD set of Brigitte Bardot films "The Brigitte Bardot Classic Collection" and not include in it a single Bardot classic. Not that there were many. No And God Created Woman (Et Dieu crea la femme) (1956). No Contempt (Le mepris) (1963). Not even Viva Maria! (1968). Rather, it contains Plucking the Daisy (En effeuillant la marguerite) (1956), The Night Heaven Fell (Les bijoutiers du clair de lune) (1958) and Don Juan, or If Don Juan Were a Woman (1973). In all, Bardot made 45 films. Or made one film 45 times, depending on your view. Although she retired in 1973 at the age of 39, she remains one of film's iconic sex symbols. She looms almost as large in the history of cinematic exploitation. It's difficult in this anything-goes age to appreciate Bardot's seismic impact in And God Created Women. Like the 18-year-old Bardot, many a nubile beauty seems to have been born to sun herself on a beach or a rock at St. Tropez, nude. Hundreds have done so at the Cannes Film Festival alone. But the tanned, naked Bardot posing on a sheet generated a perfect storm of meta-epidermal sensuality. She arrived as postwar Europe was shedding the last throes of wartime austerity and America was resuming its long-standing habit of looking to Europe for models of coolness to emulate. Bardot's femme was opposite of fatale. She represented a sexuality that was uncalculated, impulsive, essentially innocent for all its gorgeous lustiness. Unlike so many of the movies' glamour queens, she made sex seem natural – at least to her. This was the basis for her brief status as a poster girl for the New Wave and Cahiers du Cinema cohort. She was hailed as the antithesis of Hollywood's -- and the French studio system's – fabricated allure. To those Young Turks, with their oedipal agenda, she was newness, freshness -- just as, by the merest coincidence, they were. In a still-prudish country, at least in public dialogues, they put sexuality on the table as a subject for debate – legitimately so in the case of film, that most voyeuristic of art forms, enjoyed in the dark, fueled by dreams and fantasy, often sexual. Bardot became sex's logo. Enter Roger Vadim, son of émigré parents from Kiev, seven years older than Bardot. Before she heated up male libidos on a global scale, Bardot made an impression on the budding litterateur turned would-be filmmaker on the make. According to Parisian showbiz legend, while babysitting for actor-director Daniel Gelin and his actress wife, Danielle Delorme, in 1949, he saw Bardot's face on the cover of Elle, and sprang into action. She was 15 then. They met when she was 17, and her parents wanted no part of him. But he persisted on the amatory and professional fronts, marrying her when she was 18. Bardot made her film debut (uncredited) in Gelin's Les dents longues (Long in the Tooth) (1952). By 1955, Vadim was an assistant to and scriptwriter for established pro Marc Allegret. Bardot got a bigger role in Allegret's Futures Vedettes (1955), with Vadim collaborating on the script. Seven films (but only one year!) later came Plucking the Daisy for Allegret. Two films later came And God Created Woman for Vadim, and Bardot never looked back. Perhaps she should have. Plucking the Daisy has the charm of the unassuming. Essentially, it's a light-handed, fast-paced boulevard farce involving a young woman blowing the lid off her home town, Vichy (subtext alert!) with a roman a clef based on sharp-eyed candid observation, then going to Paris to make more trouble before returning home to upset further her retired general father before saving the day with a strategically placed striptease. Everybody makes it look easy, Bardot seems to effortlessly project saucy freshness and the others lay in the comic framework around her. It must have helped that she had known and worked with co-star Gelin. She attains a comfort level here that eludes her in most of her subsequent films. Perhaps Allegret realized better than most of her directors, certainly including Vadim, that asking Bardot to pout and act at the same time was unwise. He keeps it simple, keeps her in motion, and the results seem almost lithe compared to most of what followed during what was to be her meteoric career. Gelin and Robert Hirsch, as a Parisian journalist and his photographer, respectively, contribute a professionally turned sub-Martin & Lewis routine as both chase her after meeting her on a train. Darry Cowl makes his presence felt with an engaging series of off-kilter comic rhythms as Bardot's brother living in Paris and adding to the inevitable misunderstandings as an on-site custodian of a Balzac Museum. And Hollywood veteran Mischa Auer contributes one of his trademark Mad Russian routines as a Parisian taxi driver. Still, the striptease is the money scene here, and Bardot delivers with lubricity and aplomb, reminding us that she didn't come from the world of acting, or performing, but from the world of display, clothed or not. Small wonder that Vadim, in the heat of exploitation, couldn't wait to have her unfurl a table-top tango in And God Created Woman! The Night Heaven Fell, made only two years later in CinemaScope and color in Spain on a much bigger budget, is frankly a howler, right down to its tagline: The Hottest Exposure Since Man Created Film! The passivity that pervades so much of Bardot's screen acting makes for a total, almost surreal disconnect between what we aren't feeling, and what Bardot's character, Ursula, is supposed to be feeling. On a visit to the hilly estate of her aunt (Alida Valli), the convent-bred Ursula's stress level is pushed so high by her lecherous uncle and later by her noble lover that it isn't long before breast-baring and other skin games ensue before a tragic ending that, to put it softly, is snicker-inducing. Vadim must have looked far and wide to find a male lead as wooden and expressionless as Bardot is here. Stephen Boyd fills the bill as a principled village lad who kills Bardot's uncle for dishonoring Boyd's sister. Being morally doesn't help him with the law. The lovers-on-the-lam stuff reaches its nadir as Boyd's character, Lamberto, flees ever deeper into the mountains with a smitten Ursula in tow, crucifix tastefully inhabiting her cleavage. He moans that they're going nowhere, only to have Ursula, in what is supposed to be a seizure of rapture, exclaim, "If it's with you, it's not nowhere. Je t'aime!" Nowhere is exactly where the film is located, though. Valli at least enlivens it from time to time as Ursula's embittered aunt, delighted to see her sleazy husband dead until she discovers that Boyd, whom she had her eye on, loves Ursula, not her, whereupon she turns implacable. Vadim isn't a gifted enough director to conceal the fact that everybody is pretty much just phoning it in here. Bardot, already having taken to hiding behind mascara and ever-longer eyelashes, shows more than a few signs of ennui at her trajectory from sex kitten to sex object. Although she throws herself into the film's heavy breathing, it's with the acquiescence of a filmmaker's dutiful wife rather than as a sexual bombshell. She's at her most appealing, in fact, in a couple of scenes with animals, several with a burro, and one in the inevitable bullfight arena scene, where, after burbling, "Looks like fun, I'll give it a try," she hops into the corrida, looks the bull in the eye and croons, "Hello, sweetie!" If Don Juan Were a Woman, Bardot's next-to-last film, continues a sad downward slide to empty, exhausted rock bottom. In the 15 years separating the two films, Bardot and Vadim divorced, whereupon he transferred his marketing gifts to Catherine Deneuve and Jane Fonda, setting about making them sex symbols, too. Fonda will forever be linked to their spaceship exploitation film, Barbarella (1968). There's a joky reference to "Barbarela III" in If Don Juan Were a Woman. It's the only piece of intentional humor in a film that is both laughably and jaw-droppingly awful. Vadim, once regarded as a harbinger of the new and the revolutionary in film, had long since been quietly dropped by the New Wave. Jean-Luc Godard saw the dead end into which Vadim and Bardot had slid and in 1963 used Bardot in a parody of her nude scene in And God Created Woman in his own masterpiece, Contempt, about the ambivalence attached to the emptiness of commercial filmmaking and the tensions of being married to an actress. Godard called Bardot's character in the film by her real name, Camille Javal. In Don Juan, Bardot and Vadim seem to be listlessly sifting through the ashes, desperate for the faintest sign of an ember. No luck, with Bardot's Jeanne, who lives in a submarine moored along L'Ile de la Cite, in a lair as tacky as a disco lounge of the period, asking rhetorically, "Why seduce when you can destroy?" Shortly afterward, she proclaims, "I am a spider," and proceeds to work her way through a hubris-ridden cast of characters played by such French A-list stalwarts as Robert Hossein, Mathieu Carriere, and Maurice Ronet. Before she keeps the Don's date with hellfire, she even labors through a scene in which she beds Jane Birkin as a means of taking the wind out of the sails of Birkin's arrogant husband (Hossein). Bardot, looking puffy and sounding as if her mind was in some other galaxy, seems as if she couldn't wait to retire. Vadim should have joined her. Inevitably, he tried a remake of And God Created Woman in 1988, with Rebecca De Mornay. It was an ignominious flop. Bardot in later years became known for her devotion to animal welfare. Vadim died in 2000, a sad example of sensuality ending in entropy. For more information about The Brigitte Bardot Collection, visit Image Entertainment. To order The Brigitte Bardot Collection, go to TCM Shopping. by Jay Carr

Quotes

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Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1973

Released in United States 1973