Friday, August 5, 2011
Franco Friday #28: Marquis de Sade's Justine
Franco Friday #28
Once again, I return to the Franco fray but not for much longer. After 28 weeks, I have come to a decision about my quest. I have handpicked 5 Franco films for the next 5 weeks and they will be the last of the Franco Friday series. You see, I simply cannot continue with this. Every time I reach for a Franco film, it's more softcore porn garbage that I don't want to watch, much less review. This revelation came to me during an aborted attempt at watching The Sexual Story of O. I am so friggin' done with dry-humping and gooch zooms and I refuse to attempt to appreciate this nonsense on my blog anymore. So, instead of 52 films, I am going to pull the plug on this fucker at 33. Don't worry, the last 5 films are going to be good ones. That is one thing I know for certain. I just want to be myself again. Jess Franco is the most evil man in the history of the world. I'm not being melodramatic. You're being melodramatic!
Marqui de Sade: Justine
Directed by Jess Franco
Starring Klaus Kinski, Romina Power, Maria Rohm, Rosemary Dexter, Carmen de Lirio, Jack Palance, Sylvia Koscina, Howard Vernon
"This is the story of Justine and the misfortunes of virtue."
In a prison cell, the Marquis de Sade (played by Klaus Kinsi) is tormented by visions and thus writes the story of Justine. Two girls, Juliette and Justine (Maria Rohm and Romina Power), find out that their father has fled the country in shame with creditors nipping at his heels, leaving them alone in the world. They get kicked out of the convent and sent along their way. Juliette takes up living a life of crime that includes but is not limited to working in a brothel and drowning people. Justine attempts to stay virtuous, ends up losing what little money she has, and goes on all kinds of terrible adventures.
Jess Franco knocks another one out of the park with Justine. This film is full of ribaldry, silliness, beauty and tragedy. It is also a visual spectacle. The lighting is very colorful and the camerawork by Manuel Merino is fantastic. The musical score by the always brilliant Bruno Nicolai is sometimes bombastic, always lush, simply amazing. Yes, my friends, this is very, very classy smut. And it's not all poisoned puppies and thorny roses either because the world is populated by lecherous creeps, whores, crooks, and murderers.
Horst Frank! Sylvia Koscina! Jack Palance! Rosalba Neri! Howard Vernon! (I don't know why I put an exclamation point after Howard Vernon's name.) This is a star-studded affair and everyone is good. Mercedes McCambridge is awesome as Madame Dubois an escaped convict and leader of a pack of ruffians. Klaus Kinski is like a caged animal, tormented by visions of women in chains and spectres. Romina Power is very good as the virtuous and tragic Justine even though, according to trivia, Franco was forced to cast her in the role and hated her performance. Maria Rohm is perfectly devilish as her naughty sister who is more than willing to follow her own wicked excesses to the bitter end. Palance is particularly unhinged in this movie. He gives me the fuckin' creeps, man. Jeez!
My only complaint about this sumptuous production is the running time is 124 minutes! I'm sorry but all the fish eye lenses in the world can't help a film like this stay interesting for that long. I thought Justine was supposed to be 90 minutes so when that came and went, I was kind of let down that this thing kept going. Even with it's bloated running time and meandering plot, I still think that Jess Franco fans will find plenty to enjoy here. According to IMDB, this was Franco's most expensive film and it really shows with it's lavish sets, huge cast, and decadent... um... everything.
"Now remember what I told you, virtue must be avoided. It is sure disaster. And poverty must be avoided at all costs."