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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

LES FELINS / JOY HOUSE (1964)

French director René Clément’s reputation seemed to hover on and off the proscribed list of ‘Quality MovieMakers’ held in contempt by the ‘Cahiers du Cinéma’ crowd. And, in truth, even the titles that keep his name alive (FORBIDDEN GAMES/’52; PURPLE NOON/’60) don’t quite match the encomiums found on the packaging. So, it’s no surprise to find this lighter effort, a sort of shaggy-dog thriller, so eager to tap into creepy, crawly DIABOLIQUE/’55 territory, it fritters away its possibilities. Alain Delon, a stud on the lam, is fleeing some revenge seeking Stateside killers when he’s plucked out of a French homeless shelter by a couple of chic chicks (Jane Fonda & Lola Albright) to serve as their new chauffeur. If it sounds too good to be true, it is; a situation Delon soon scopes out when he investigates the many closed rooms in the cousins' over-decorated mansion between rival bouts of l’amour. Turns out there’s a fourth side to this budding triangle. Clément knows what he’s after, trying to cover plot holes with decor, but the fun leaks out with the logic. On the other hand, Fonda, long before she started exercising & became self-conscious about her acting, is something to see.

DOUBLE-BILL: Going all outlier here, THE BEGUILED/’71, Don Siegel’s unexpected Civil War morality tale traps Alpha-Male soldier boy Clint Eastwood in a horror house of love-starved women.

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