2/5/09

B.L.O.G. Presents: Eugenie (1969)

There are some names that just don't seem sexy. Helga, Beatrice, Dottie. I could go on and on, but today's B.L.O.G girl is saddled with an unfortunate name and she still manages to make it happen. It's not really her fault she has such an unfortunate moniker. The blame really lays with the infamous Marquis de Sade, and when he wrote his dialog Philosophy in the Boudoir, it seems entirely possible that his innocent female protagonist could have been modeled after....

Marie Liljedhal was but seventeen when the Swede began her career in Joseph W. Samo's film Inga. She only made 8 films all between 1967 and 1971, and then she retired from the business. Tonight's feature was her next to last film, and it was directed by none other than that Spanish exploitation master (and recent Goya award winner), Jess Franco. The film was an adaptation of de Sade's work filtered though the lens of British screenwriter Harry Alan Towers. And yes, sadly she is saddled with the unfortunate name of...
Eugenie (1969) starring Maria Rohm , Marie Liljedahl, Jack Taylor, and Christopher Lee. Directed by Jess Franco.

A young girl, Eugenie (Lilejdhal), becomes currency when her father trades a weekend with his daughter for sex with the mysterious Madame de St. Ange (Rhom). His daughter is then wisked away to a private island where Eugenie is to stay with Madame and her brother Mirvel (Taylor). Slowly at first, the siblings begin to break down the young girl's inhibitions, and they both in turn bed the girl. However, innocent Eugenie is unsure if her experiences aren't just vivid dreams.

Soon another group arrives on the island lead by the stern Dolomance (Lee). They induct the girl into the Order of De Sade, and she experiences the duality of pleasure and pain. Soon she is caught up in a web of lies, murder, and sex, and as the girl loses her innocence, something different emerges from within Eugenie.

Film Facts

--Christopher Lee worked on the film for two days after the actor who was originally cast as Dolomance passed away. He has stated that he had no idea about the sexual content of the film. He also provided his own wardrobe, and the red velvet smoking jacket he wears was a leftover from a Sherlock Holmes film.

-- Maria Rohm's next film was the 1971 version of Black Beauty.

--Jack Taylor's first role was on a 1953 episode of The Jack Benny Show, and he has worked ever since in films including Goya's Ghosts(2006) and The Ninth Gate(1999).

--Bruno Nicolai composed the score to the film. He would go on to score the films Caligula(1979) and Buckeye and Blue (1988)

The Bug Speaks

This is the second film I have covered from Director Jess Franco, and compared to his later work on Golden Temple Amazons, this film is far and away superior. As a film it managed to balance tension, eroticism, and a dab of the horrific, all with equal skill. As ham-fisted and silly as GTA was, this film managed to show me why Jess Franco was a respected film maker.

Many of the shots in the film are opulent with a vibrant color palette. The camera moves gracefully along through the tale, and it changes with the tone of the film. The shots of innocent Eugenie are brightly lit and full of bouncy energy, while the shots of sadism are tightly shot and give the experience a claustrophobic feel. It should come as no surprise that the film was shot by cinematographer Manuel Merino who worked with Franco on 17 films.

The acting in the film is what really sells the story. Maria Rohm is not only a beautiful blonde, but she portrays Madame de St. Ange with great care. It seems totally believable that she could gain the young girl's trust, but just the same she can turn on a dime to the cruel, callous mistress who would turn an innocent over to a group like The Order. Jack Taylor as Mirvel seems to have the task of being a massive creep, and man does he ever nail this one. Every time Mirvel showed up it made my skin crawl, and as he gets his clutches on Eugenie, he becomes a terrifying predator. Christopher Lee has very little screen-time, and his character serves as more of a narrator as he regales us with readings from the the work of de Sade. Although brief, it is always entertaining to see Lee pop up in any film, and with a role as unusual as this, it is even more so.

Of course what brings us here is Marie Liljedhal. Her portrayal of Eugenie is utterly convincing. Even more so, it seems a bit disturbing. It is never established how old her character is, and the childlike innocence that she brings to the beginning of the film makes for some uncomfortable moments. As she becomes more sexual, she seemed to grow older right on the screen, and by the time the film ended, I had no problem feeling that it was a grown woman I was looking at. Looking at indeed, Liljedhal spends a great deal of the film nude, and the final 15 minutes of the movie the actress spends totally naked (and probably with sand in unfortunate places).

Over the years I've seen and read a number of things based on the works of de Sade, and none of them really capture the balance of innocence and depravity that the Marquis' writings reach. This film really does just that. It is not a film for anyone bothered by extreme sexual content or perverse behavior, but if you have problems with that, I'm not exactly sure why you're still reading. For the perverts who are still with me, I say check this one out. It's a gorgeous film filled with a couple of very sexy ladies. Not only that, it is a compelling, well paced story that really captures the spirit of the source material. For a great double feature, pop this one on then watch Geffory Rush channel the Marquis in the excellent film, Quills.
Bug Rating


3 comments:

  1. Proof that Franco was not a hack! I plan on doing a review for this one next month, but it seems we are pretty much in agreement.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have not seen this one yet, but I do appreciate the works of Jess Franco. The "Diabolical Dr. Z" and "Vampyros Lesbos" are two of my favorites. They are both strangely beautiful films.

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  3. Seeing these kind of posts reminds me of just how technology truly is an integral part of our lives in this day and age, and I can say with 99% certainty that we have passed the point of no return in our relationship with technology.


    I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Ethical concerns aside... I just hope that as technology further advances, the possibility of downloading our brains onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's one of the things I really wish I could encounter in my lifetime.


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