Koch Vision // 1969 // 88 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Jesse Ataide (Retired) // January 15th, 2005
"Felicia is used to getting what she wants -- money, cars, and especially men!"
The Bear and the Doll, a low-grade social satire, stars Brigitte Bardot as a spoiled socialite who finds love where she least expects it: with a mild-mannered, middle-class cello player who seems oblivious to her obvious charms. Made in 1969 when the internationally ogled beauty was 35 years old (and her youthful radiance was just beginning to show signs of fading), it was one of the last films of her career.
After meeting through a minor fender-bender, Bardot's character quickly becomes fascinated by the aloof man in the other car (Jean-Pierre Cassel, father of La Haine and Ocean's Twelve star Vincent Cassel). The incident sets off a series of events reminiscent of classic screwball comedies as the two stars try to show their growing affection for each other through insults. Screenwriter Nina Companéez comes up with several great gags, including a hilarious scene that allows Bardot to imitate a sex-crazed playboy, but the proceedings quickly become tiring as the couple's exchanges grow increasingly lame.
But the film itself, which is merely a mediocre stab at comedy, is overshadowed by Koch Vision's atrocious presentation. The film itself looks horrible, mainly due to blurriness, which causes the film to appear slightly out of focus for its entire running time. It looks like a Z-grade made-for-TV movie, which is rather surprising, considering Bardot was still a major star at the time the film was made. A quick IMDb investigation yields an unexpected reason for The Bear and the Doll's visual ineptitude: The film was originally filmed in color. For reasons known only to themselves, Koch Vision has chosen to present it in black and white, and the results is a very compromised picture.
To compound the problems, the film is presented not in the original French, but with an embarrassing English dub. Considering the numerous close-ups on Bardot's beautiful face throughout the film, this is very problematic, and contributes to the general aura of cheapness this release projects.
The Bear and the Doll actually appears to have a strong reputation with Bardot fans, but I'm sure even the most devoted admirers will feel cheated, considering the way this film has been brutally maimed by Koch Vision.
Guilty in every way imaginable -- and sentenced to the trash can as soon as possible.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Koch Vision
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 1969
MPAA Rating: Not Rated