Sunday, September 28, 2014

Et Dieu... créa la femme

Today being Brigitte Bardot's actual 80th birthday even though TCM honored it at the beginning of the week with a night of her movies, I figure it would be a good time to mention one of the Bardot movies that I watched on Monday night: ...And God Created Woman.

Brigitte Bardot, unsurprisingly, plays the woman, a young thing named Juliette who lives in a small town on what is now the fashionable French Riviera, although at the time the movie was made parts of it weren't as fashionable as they are now. We see Juliette at the beginning of the film sunbathing out in the yard, topless, although we only see her back so we never get anything really naughty. The wealthy middle-aged businessman Eric (Curd Jürgens) drives up and gives her a model car, pretty much implying that he's willing to take her away in the real thing. Juliette, however, doesn't really care for Eric, instead having her eye on Antoine (Christian Marquand). Antonie is the eldest son in a family that runs a small, struggling shipyard in one of the grimier industrial parts of the region that never get shown when we see the beautiful French Riviera. Antoine, for his part, isn't seriously interested in Juliette, in part because has a reputation. In fact, that reputation might get Juliette sent out of town because she's an orphan, living with a nasty foster mother and a wheelchair-bound foster father.

Antoine and Eric have something else in common besides Juliette. Eric is looking ot build a casino to turn this part of the coast into one of the fashionable parts of the Riviera as we were mentioning previously. However, in order to have enough land to build where he wants and in the way he wants, Eric needs to buy the shipyard that Antoine and his family owns. It could make them well-off, but Antoine says no way becuase he doesn't know any other life. Of course, that life is about to get more complicated.

That's because Juliette's foster mother has finally had enough with Juliette and is going to send her back to the orphanage. Antoine's younger (but adult) brother Michel (Jean-Louis Trintignant, later of Z) hears about this and decides that, because he's in love with Juliette (who isn't?), he's going to marry her to keep her around. Of course, he should know that she can never be a one-man woman....

...And God Created Woman is a movie that's beautiful to watch, although a bit lacking in the plot department at times. The cinematography is wonderful, both the scenery and the sets, which look suitably lower-class in the sense that with the exception of Eric, all of these people are decidedly not well-to-do. The characters, at least the younger ones, are all pretty to look at, while Jürgens looks relatively creepy the way a slightly dirty older man should. I just wish the climax of the movie were better.

...And God Created Woman is available on DVD from the Criterion Collection, which means that it's a bit pricey.

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