Quiet Days In Clichy (1970/Blue Underground Blu-ray)
Picture: B Sound: B- Extras: C+ Film: B-
Based upon Henry Miller's 1956 novel, Quiet Days in Clichy presents the
story of two friends living out their days taking on plenty of sexual partners,
giving little mind to anything else. Although frank and sexually explicit, public
tastes have changed considerably over the years, mellowing the level of shock
that the film once elicited. Seeing it
now in an era where hardcore pornography is practically a societal norm, its
merits can be weighed without being overly concerned with its sexual content.
The film starts out being quite fun, with playful editing and a creative use of
thought balloons and text laid over the images to aid the narrative. The few threads of plot that there are come
through in the songs provided by Country Joe McDonald, who details Joey and
Carl's various exploits with the women they encounter.
In the opening scene, we see them paying to have sex with a woman who for the
moment is out of her mind. Joey takes it
upon himself to spend 200 francs of Carl's money for this, then spends a night
going hungry after dropping the rest of his own money on another girl. Forced to resort to going through their trash
pail to look for food, he then goes to bed until Carl comes home. When he arrives, he's brought with him an
underage Belgian girl whom he wants to live with them and tidy up the place.
The girl, Collette, is practically mute and very short on brains, something
that they use to their advantage in keeping her living in the apartment under
their care. She takes to wandering
aimlessly about town at times, and they follow her around in order to observe
her childish behavior, and to find out if it is merely an act she puts on for
Eventually, her whereabouts are discovered, and Collette is taken away by the
authorities without her family pressing charges against Carl and Joey. This severs any threat that the two of them
face, and from here out, much like Collette, the film soon enough begins to
meander about without direction.
A strict story was never the goal of this film to begin with, but interest in
seeing what the characters get up to begins to wane toward the end. The humor and visual experimentation seen
early on are gone about halfway through, and the rest of the movie just kind of
goes on existing without a lot behind it. It never becomes a chare to watch, but as it
peters out, you get the feeling that more could have been done with what was
there to stir up more thought.
This film really benefits from the Blu-ray treatment, and the picture quality
is well above that of the earlier editions, showing much more sharpness and
detail in the black and white image. It
is presented in 1080p with an aspect ratio of 1.66:1. Audio quality is also
excellent, and preserves the original mono mix in DTS-HD.
The film lacks an audio commentary track, but includes some great interviews
with Country Joe and Henry Miller's publisher, Barney Rosset. A second, even more informative interview with
Rosset is also included, this one being from Al Goldstein's notorious late
night public access program, Midnight Blue.
Quiet Days in Clichy was actually one of two productions of Henry
Miller's work made in 1970, the other being an adaptation of Tropic of
Cancer starring Rip Torn. Just
recently, this too was put out on DVD. For fans of Miller's work, this must be
a great time, as these once rare titles are now easily found, and with the
added bonus of this one being in high def. While I was a bit on the fence about my
feelings toward Clichy,
I still recommend checking it out at least once. It's a challenging movie, and there's no easy
way of telling the effect it might have on you, but why not dive in and take
- David Milchick