Now I don’t know if you remember last Valentine’s Day when I wrote a little bit about my man, the late Roger Vadim. Or maybe you already know about him. Personally I never met the dude, but he has always been a personal hero of mine ever since I read the title of his book, MY MARRIAGE TO THREE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMEN IN THE WORLD. This is an individual who was married to 1) a young Jane Fonda. 2) Brigitte Bardot. And others.
Now although Mr. Vadim is obviously one of the great filmmakers of our time, just based on those great accomplishments, I have not seen too many of his pictures. One I have seen is the Barbarella, which is about a gorgeous space gal going on adventures and etc. Excellent. Number two I have seen Dangerous Liasons 1968, a French version of that story which takes place in – you guessed it – 1968. And the music is jazz music by Thelonious Monk and Art Blakey. It stars Jeanne Moreau. Can’t remember if Roger married her too but it wouldn’t fucking surprise me. If not, I’m sure there was SOMETHING going on there, I mean think about it, this dude could accomplish anything he set his mind to.
Now I am on my third Vadim picture and I am starting to see some of his themes. For one thing, the man obviously thinks about sex alot. And who could blame the dude with pretty gals like that walking around the house. I read somewhere that he got the idea to do Barbarella because he saw Jane Fonda walking around the house topless. I mean, what a way to brainstorm.
But Roger is a tease. He likes to bring up sex alot but he doesn’t show very much. He likes to show us his wives naked, but for not as long as we would prefer to see them naked. Just little glimpses. The famous credits for Barbarella have the words bouncing around covering up all the parts of Barb’s nudity while she floats around in her spaceship. It is a movie all about sex but it has almost no nudity and even has a pg rating now. But jesus if it ain’t better than all the world’s biggest gang bang videos combined. I mean yeah nothing against cum shots and what not but I think the look on jane’s face when she’s in the “orgasmatron” machine is more erotic.
Dangerous Liasons showed Roger’s meaner side. I think he thought women were out to get him. That story is about a woman who uses her beauty and sexuality to screw motherfuckers over. There’s a dude in the movie that does the same type of thing but let’s face it, that doesn’t really support my theory. So forget about it. And plus he gets redeemed in the end and she doesn’t. I think that’s Roger’s true view on women and men. Anyway Don Juan continues in the Dangerous LIasons fashion. Brigitte Bardot plays Jeanne (the Don Juan of the title) who loves to make men lust after her, then leave them. Like she makes friends with a dude and his wife and gets the dude all excited for a threesome, then as soon as he’s all ready she puts her clothes back on and tells the dude he’s a piece of shit.
The framework of the story is about how Jeanne goes to see her cousin, a priest, and tell him that she has killed a man. She proceeds to tell him stories about the different men she has toyed with, only one of which is the dude she killed. And the way she killed this dude, not to give away the ending but, yes, I will give away the ending – she asks him if he would give up his life to have sex with her, and he says yes. So he has sex with her, then slits his wrists.
My favorite scene in Dangerous Liasons 1968, or DL-68 as I call it for short, was when the main dude was at a party where Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers were playing. Then he fell over and hit his head on a brick and died. And then Art Blakey played a real good drum solo. Well there is a less crucial but similar scene in Don Juan where a gal at a party falls down and hits her head on a rock or something and is unconscious and bleeding. I mean isn’t the weird? What kind of parties did Vadim go to? Maybe his life wasn’t as glamorous as I always fantasize it was.
Nah. It probaly was. I mean hell it would be worth it anyway, for those wives. In my opinion.
Anyway, I gotta be honest, Don Juan is for Vadim or Bardot completatists only. Visually it is very arty and show offy, reminiscent of Barbarella even though it ain’t in space or the future. So right from the start I thought hell, this is gonna be a masterpiece. It is very sexy and slick and cool and etc. On the other hand the story is not that great and by the time Brigitte goes up in flames you gotta admit, you were kinda bored. I think it needs a little more of the humor. If richard pryor or somebody had done a rewrite we mighta had something here. Oh well, there is always next time.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.