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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Sex > Biography > Dutch > Lust > Power > Prostitution > Murder > Comedy > Crime > Teens > French > Marriag > Madame Claude (1977*)/My Nights With Susan, Sandra, Olga & Julie (1975 w/DVD*)/P.O. Box Tinto Brass (1995*)/We (2018/Artsploitation Blu-ray)/The Whirlpool (2012/IndiePix DVD)/A Woman Like Eve (1979/*a

Madame Claude (1977*)/My Nights With Susan, Sandra, Olga & Julie (1975 w/DVD*)/P.O. Box Tinto Brass (1995*)/We (2018/Artsploitation Blu-ray)/The Whirlpool (2012/IndiePix DVD)/A Woman Like Eve (1979/*all Cult Epics Blu-ray)

Picture: B/B- & C+/B/B-/C+/B Sound: B-/B- & C+/B-/B/C+/B- Extras: C/C+/B/C/C-/C+ Films: B-/C+/C+/B-/C+/B-

Now for a group of erotic films that actually have narratives, or at least try to...

By the time Just Jaecklin's Madame Claude (1977) was released in theaters, the director already made his directorial debut with Emmanuelle (1974, the most ripped off and imitated sex film since) and The Story Of O (1975, from the shocking book, both reviewed elsewhere on this site) so he took on a book about a madame and her sex workers who happened to survive some of the richest and most powerful men in the world. Also issued as The French Woman in the U.S., the film has some impressive and explicit scenes, if not as graphic as XXX of the time, it comes very close.

Besides being shocking in its implications (corrupt rich people) and some sex scenes, this was a time when such films were taken seriously as possibly serious cinema (which brass' Caligula would soon end!) and managed to sign on actors including Murray Head (Schlesinger's Sunday Bloody Sunday and several famous musical hits), Klaus Kinski (teetering between all kinds of respectability and sleaze even at this point) and has music by legendary Serge Gainsborough. It does not always work, but has aged well and in interesting ways and is worth a look. It is also a time capsule in more ways than you might first think.

Pim de la Parra's My Nights With Susan, Sandra, Olga & Julie (1975) is about a foursome of women who love sex and quickly become sex killers in this wild film that is not quite a horror film or even mystery thriller, yet is not outright exploitation or sexploitation as it is also involving the men not quite being innocent and is also not a character study, yet is not slap-dash about its sex or any sexuality. The result is a mixed bag that does not exactly try to be anything specific but simply show the events, yet seems to still know what it wants to do. The ac tors are good and it is part of the four-film Dutch Sex Wave Collection pictured above. The other three films are reviewed elsewhere on this site.

P.O. Box Tinto Brass (1995) has the director making a 94-minutes-long romp based on erotic mail (pre-Internet we gather) sexual fantasies based on several of them. To call it an anthology is a stretch, but it is a hit and miss affair with some good moments, but nothing he has not done before and nothing we have not seen before. It is at least consistent and looks good, but does not have the energy of his best work.

Rene Eller's We (2018) is a Dutch film about a group of sexually active teens (et al) from a suburb there, but instead of coming of age and being happy, they quickly and sadly start using their sexuality to steal, threaten, rob and commit all kinds of crimes. This kind of thing has been going on in the U.S. for decades and is rarely discussed, but the film does a good job of telling this sad story about these children who should have some good opportunities in the future just being too impatient and ignorant to wait. It can be erotic, but much of it is not because it is all unfortunate how they waste themselves and become increasingly vicious in whom they go after. It is no Clockwork Orange, Natural Born Killers or even a Larry Clark film as it is coming from a different angle, but it is boldly different and worth a look.

Alvin Case's The Whirlpool (2012) was shot in the U.S. and Canada, but is an on-the-flu film from French filmmakers (and in the language) about two strangers who meet, then get sexually involved as they travel. An obvious road film, it has some good moments and leads Agathe Ferox and Pierre Perrier are as convincing as they are very sexual, but the low budget 80 minutes could have been more creative and the actors even shown to better effect. Still, worth a look.

Finally, Nouchka Van Brackel's A Woman Like Eve (1979) is the other film with name cast members joining the unknowns or know-in-sex-film names as a married housewife (Monique van der Ven of Paul Verhoeven's Turkish Delight) falls for what looks like a young man, but turns out to be Maria Schneider (of Bertolucci's Last Tango In Paris) in this look at unhappy domestic life. The wife seems happy in the affair, but no one totally seems happy in the film, as it tries to explore the oppression and connected situations with a bit more success than expected.

The sex is not as explicit as some of the other entries here, but it is there enough for a hard R rating if issued today in the U.S. market. At least they tried to do a mature, adult film. Renee Soutendijk, best known for Verhoeven's underrated The Fourth Man, also stars.

Now for playback performance. The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Madame is one of the best-looking releases here with fine color, a solid transfer and a pretty decent restoration form the original Kodak-shot color negative that has its style, but has fine color range. Flesh tones are accurate and the hard work to create some shots holds up well.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Olga also looks fine in what looks like a Techniscope shoot, but has some softness and age issues a little more than expected. Otherwise, it is very nice and the anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 DVD is passable, but much softer and without the color range.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Box Tinto has the usual styling you get form his films that fall somewhere between the 1970s still photography from Playboy and Penthouse Magazines. It is one of the newer entries and one of the best looking.

The 1080p 2.65 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on We is the newest production here, but this very wide frame (usually for epic films like Ben-Hur (1959)) is for epic films and this is not that. Instead, it makes everything more distant and softer than it should be.

The 1080p 1.66 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Eve, however, has few flaws and is one of the best transfers here,m styling and all. Color is also impressive throughout as it should be.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Whirlpool looks good for the format, but some of this looks so good, it should have been a Blu-ray release too. The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound has some surrounds and is well-recorded,. But could be clearer and warmer.

As for the Blu-ray sound, We has a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix that makes it the best-sounding release here with a consistent soundfield and is the only multi-channel release here. After Whirlpool, the rest of the films are originally theatrical monophonic releases (though bonus film IsTintoBrass is also DTS-MA 5.1) and those Cult Epics releases are DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Mono lossless mixes with PCM 2.0 Mono counterparts, save Olga with lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono and Madame with all three. The lossless versions sound as good as these films will ever likely sound, though expect some dubbing and age to the soundmasters.

Extras include Original Theatrical Trailers on all six discs, while Madame adds a feature length audio commentary track by writer/film scholar Jeremy Richey, a Promotional Gallery, 202 HD-shot interview with Director Jaeckin and other Cult Epics trailers. Olga adds a Poster & Photo Gallery in HD, 2019 HD-shot director's intro, more Scorpio Films trailers and Scorpio short films: Heart Beat Fresco (1966), Joop (1969) and Joop Strikes Again (1970). Box Tinto adds a Poster & Photo video gallery, 2003 intro by the director, a photo video gallery for all of Brass' work, praise clip and 2013 interview with director Massimiliano Zanin. Eve adds a Poster & Photo gallery and a 2020 HD-shot interview with Director Brakel by Journalist Floortje Smit at Eye Filmmuseum. Whirlpool adds interviews with the leads.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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