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Category:    Home > Reviews > Sweet Ecstasy (Dolce Violence/First Run DVD)

Sweet Ecstasy


Picture: C-     Sound: C     Extras: C+     Film: C+



Besides eventually adding color stocks to their battery of sex/tease films, The Audubon Company decided to add CinemaScope to their bag of tricks by the early 1960s, because it had become cheap and was being outdone by Franscope and Panavision.  One of the results was Max Pecas’ Sweet Ecstasy (1962), which was distributed in the U.S. by another famous exploitation outfit, American International.


With that mix, you know you have just entered cheesy city.  This was yet another film that featured Elke Sommer (see Daniella By Night reviewed elsewhere on this site) in another role pushing her sex appeal.  This time, the Riviera offers the backdrop for the young teens who have not discovered sex yet, and can one man juggle so many women with jiggle?  That is the “pressing” question this film asks.  Of course, is that a question and we will never get an answer to anything.


There is something amusing, especially at the time, of such silliness finding its way to widescreen framing.  For a format that was only nine years old at the time and already losing ground to better lens systems and larger-frame formats, the format (specifically CinemaScope) that was to save the cinema from TV did its best to help set off the widescreen trend, but was already obsolete.  The cheapie films that followed further eroded the prestige CinemaScope was promoted with, but it made for great filmmaking in the newer formats, sealed with the unprecedented megahit success of big budget James Bond films in Panavision, beginning with 1965’s Thunderball, meaning B-movies like this landed up finding a new niche no one expected.


The letterboxed 2.35 X 1 CinemaScope frame is on the accurately framed side, but the black & white image is very soft throughout.  We are big fans of monochrome scope films at the site, with even this having its visual moments.  With the Riviera, how could you miss, but it just is not as watchable as it should have been.  Maybe the materials used for this transfer could be found, restored, and done anamorphically.  Until then, it s here, and at least it is not pan and scan!  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is of the dubbed variety, though Sommer could speak good English.  The few extras include trailers to five other titles from this series, the trailer for this film (with sides missing at 1.78 X 1), a 15-still photo gallery and some text notes.


As for Elke, yes, she was so great to watch that she does carry what little a film this is.  The combination of Melodrama and Campy humor is enough of a hoot that everyone should see this one once for the laugh value.  Of course, Elke went on to better films, including ones shot in Techniscope (Deadlier Than The Male is reviewed elsewhere on this site) and Panavision (her Pink Panther sequel A Shot in the Dark) that were better than this, no matter how silly.  Sweet Ecstasy obviously does not live up to its title, or anything else, but it is light viewing of a more innocent time.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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