Judge Daryl Loomis always keeps his glass vacuum cleaner on his glass coffee table.
The hottest exposure since man created film!
Not quite. While there's a lot of hotness across the three films that make up The Brigitte Bardot Classic Collection, there's not a lot of exposure going on at any point. On that note, I also contend with the "Classic" part of the title of the set. The films are enjoyable enough, I suppose, and one is an exercise in ridiculous camp, but there's nothing particularly memorable about the set.
Facts of the Case
Plucking the Daisy
Agnes Dumont (Brigitte Bardot, Contempt), has just anonymously published a scandalous book revealing all the juicy dirt on the officials in her small French town. The trouble is, her father's one of those officials. When he finds out that she's the author, he sends her away to Paris to quiet the scandal. There, she gets into even more trouble with an unwitting theft of a rare book. To pay the owners back, she must enter a series of striptease competitions, but what will she do when the finals take place in her hometown?
The Night Heaven Fell
Bardot travels to Italy as Ursula, a young woman fresh from the convent who is going to live with her aunt and uncle. When she gets to their house, a young hothead named Lamberto (Stephen Boyd, Kill!) attacks her lecherous uncle, who beats the kid nearly to death. Ursula nurses Lamberto back to health, but doesn't realize that Lamberto's out for revenge. When he kills her uncle and sleeps with her aunt, Ursula inexplicably realizes that she loves him and flees to the hills with him to escape the authorities.
Don Juan (or, If Don Juan Were a Woman)
From her ultra-mod submarine, Jeanne (Bardot) recounts to a priest the story of how she drove a lover to suicide. This long and winding story takes us through episode after episode of sexual escapades, in which she leaves a trail of destroyed, but sexually satisfied, men and women in her wake.
Nobody is going to accuse Brigitte Bardot of great acting, but that was never how she put butts in seats. She became an international sensation based on other assets, assets that cannot be denied, mind you, but nothing about her is particularly believable or realistic. The films in this set are of mixed quality, but generally subpar, with one rising to the top by sheer craziness.
Plucking the Daisy, made prior to her breakthrough in Roger Vadim's …And God Created Woman, is surprisingly sexy for a film from 1956, even one from France, but it barely counts as a movie. The plot is so shockingly thin that it's hard to believe a complete film could have been made from it, yet it's the longest of the three in the collection. It's not hard to see how they stretch the running time. Two or three stripping scenes will take you a long way, but it creates something more like Aerosmith's video of "Crazy" than an actual movie. Marc Allégret (Lady Chatterley's Lover (1955)) directs this lighthearted comedy with enough confidence, but the movie as a whole does not work. The notion of Bardot having the ability to write a scandalous novel is ridiculous, but she's charming and it's very easy to see how she became so popular.
By the time Bardot appeared again in a Vadim film, she had become a star and had appeared in plenty of productions. Unfortunately, this added experience does not show itself very well in The Night Heaven Fell, an awful film in every way. The plot here is almost as bare as in Plucking the Daisy, but there are no stripteases to buoy the story. Incomprehensible plotting combines with incomprehensible character motivation to make an utterly terrible film. To its credit, Bardot again looks great and the sun-drenched Italian locales are well-photographed but, otherwise, there's little reason to watch this film.
Fast forward fifteen years and we have Brigitte Bardot's final film, a bizarre piece of cinema from Vadim. Bardot helped usher in the sexual revolution and, in 1973, at the release of Don Juan (or, If Don Juan Were a Woman), she handed it back to us at its absolute tackiest. On that level, the film is totally worth watching, but it isn't very good. Given the amount of talent around her, which includes Robert Hossein (Le Professionnel), Matthieu Carrière (Shining Through), and Jane Birkin (Slogan), it's somewhat surprising how poorly it all works. Like other star-studded sexy attractions, such as Candy, they throw everything they can think of in the mix. The result is excessive, silly, and seemingly fueled by too many substances. That it's Bardot's final film makes it something of a tribute to her career; not a classy tribute, mind you, but a tribute nonethless.
All three films in The Brigitte Bardot Classic Collection have been previously released by HVE, but are collected together for the first time in this set from Image Entertainment. Bare bones releases all, but they look and sound good across the board. Each is in its original aspect ratio and, as is typical for HVE, the image transfers look as good as anybody could expect. There is some grain and dust here and there, but they look equally great in both color and black and white. The sound mixes are only okay, but they are all dialog-heavy, so there isn't much to argue with as the dialog is clear. The mix for Don Juan is better than the other two, but that's strictly because of a slightly more dynamic stereo mix than the mono tracks of the earlier films; only slightly, though. The only extras are trailers. Given the staggered original releases of these films, these trailers wind up overlapping on the disc, giving you three versions of each.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
It's easy to be tough on these films, which are little more than vehicles for Bardot, but they're easy on the eyes and are perfectly harmless, if totally pointless. Bardot is a charming actress, and there's no doubt how she became such a presence in the world of cinema. You can do a lot worse than this collection.
I would call these films lesser Bardot, if I knew what greater Bardot would mean. She's extremely attractive and fairly fun to watch, but in no way because of her acting skills. This is a breezy, weightless collection of films that pass the time and not much else. It's nice to see the actress at the beginning and the end of her career, but you find out that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
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Scales of Justice, Plucking The Daisy
Perp Profile, Plucking The Daisy
Studio: Image Entertainment
Distinguishing Marks, Plucking The Daisy
Scales of Justice, The Night Heaven Fell
Perp Profile, The Night Heaven Fell
Studio: Image Entertainment
Distinguishing Marks, The Night Heaven Fell
Scales of Justice, Don Juan (Or, If Don Juan Were A Woman)
Perp Profile, Don Juan (Or, If Don Juan Were A Woman)
Studio: Image Entertainment
Distinguishing Marks, Don Juan (Or, If Don Juan Were A Woman)
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