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Case Number 13835

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Catherine Deneuve: 5-Film Collection

Manon 70
1968 // 105 Minutes // Not Rated
Le Sauvage
1975 // 103 Minutes // Rated PG
Hotel Des Ameriques
1981 // 95 Minutes // Not Rated
Le Choc
1982 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Fort Saganne
1984 // 180 Minutes // Rated
Released by Lionsgate
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // June 16th, 2008

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All Rise...

Judge Brett Cullum waxes philosophical on the ageless beauty of Catherine Deneuve, because he's a sucker for anyone who speaks French and acts aloof.

The Charge

Five films from an ageless French beauty.

Opening Statement

Could there be a French star more glamorous or sexy than Catherine Deneuve? She seems immortal, being just as beautiful in the '50s, '60s, '70's, '80s, '90s, and the new millennium. No wonder Tony Scott chose her as his fashionable lead vampire for The Hunger, or Bunuel would find her perfectly suited to be a bored housewife turned high-priced hooker in Belle de Jour. Roman Polanski crafted a horror film showcasing Deneuve called Repulsion, while she also sang and danced her way through factories alongside Bjork in Dancer in the Dark. And who could forget the star twirling her way through a technicolor breakout role in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg? She has made appearances in over one hundred films spread out over six decades, and it makes sense Lions Gate would produce a five movie set showcasing unreleased French catalogue titles called the Catherine Deneuve Collection.

Facts of the Case

First up, we have the obligatory rapid-fire biographical snippets of information on the actress. The daughter of French stage and film actor Maurice Dorleac, Catherine Deneuve was born on October 22nd, 1943 in Paris. She made her screen debut at the age of 13, with a role in the 1956 film Les Collegiennes. She's won the French equivalent of the Oscar (the Cesar Award) twice and been nominated eight additional times so far. The Academy in the United States nominated her for a Best Actress golden statue in 1992 for her stunning performance in Indochine. Top fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent has cited Deneuve as his muse, and frequently has been the one to clothe her in movies when that sort of arrangement is allowed. MAC cosmetics named the actress an "Icon of Beauty" in 2006, and they released a color collection based on her palette. She was only married once from 1965 until 1972 to photographer David Bailey, but she has had many high powered relationships with moguls of the movie business. Catherine has two children: actor Christian Vadim who's father is director Roger Vadim, and actress Chiara Mastroianni from her time with Marcello Mastroianni.

So why all the never-ending clamoring and constant attention? Catherine Deneuve has become an archetype through her icy performances which often showcase a beautifully steel willed woman who doesn't flinch no matter what is thrown at her. She has a statuesque quality that allows her to remain dignified no matter how her character is degraded, or how far she falls on screen. Men are dazzled and baffled, while women see a style icon they often wish they could emulate. She is poise, grace, and a storm of fashion no matter what the situation. She's an immaculate actress, but what is remarkable is she keeps a sense of herself in every role. While some actors disappear in a part, Catherine Deneuve makes the part come to her. You get to see that in the Catherine Deneuve Collection.

Included in this set are the following films:

Manon 70 (1968)
Manon (Deneuve) is a sexual free spirit who uses seduction to get what she wants. Usually that involves servicing wealthy men, but on a flight from Hong Kong to Paris she meets an irresistible struggling reporter (Sami Frey). Can she let her heart take her away from satiating her desires? Manon 70 is a modern adaptation of an 18th century novel and a 19th century opera, so its roots are culturally imbedded in the lore of France. Music plays an important role throughout, although it is not the primary focus as it would be in a musical. Deneuve was perfectly cast as Manon, although the story of an opportunistic woman choosing between true love and money is a tried and true cliche of cinema. This was a logical extension of Belle De Jour.

Le Sauvage (1975)
Yves Montand plays a husband who is running away from his wife's cosmetic business by farming vegetables on an island. Catherine Deneuve is a character running away from her mob boyfriend with an expensive Toulouse-Lautrec painting in tow as well. Deneuve tries to be a Doris Day type figure, and the whole film plays out like a slapstick opera. It's a strange French comedy that is light and fluffy in tone. Le Sauvage is interesting because it represents an attempt by Deneuve at screwball comedy. She partners with Montand to try and duplicate some Hepburn-Tracy style back and forth verbal sparring. The tone is spry, and there is even a comical car chase thrown in for good measure. This was a film where Deneuve was nominated for a Cesar Award for Best Actress.

Hotel des Ameriques (1981)
Deneuve plays Helene, an attractive anesthesiologist. One day she hits a man (Patrick Dewaere) with her car, and the two start off a doomed relationship. He is a lethargic depressed soul who hangs out in his family's hotel, and she is trying to get over the death of a former lover. Could anything end well? Hotel des Ameriques is a moody interesting film that takes a lot of thought. The narrative is not so much made clear as revealed through character actions, and mostly we get them at a low point. There are plenty of moody night scenes, and some gorgeous music strewn throughout. Again, Deneuve received a Best Actress nomination for her role in this one.

Le Choc (1982)
Alain Delon plays a hit man who would like to quit his job, but easier said than done. He escapes to the countryside and meets Claire (Deneuve), and a love affair begins to bloom. Word comes back from Paris that his employers want him to do one last job and then he may go free. Will he find a way to escape and be with his love? Le Choc is a cliche crime thriller, but the acting almost saves it. Deneuve and Delon make a striking pair, and it's a shame they were wasted on such a thin script. As a "B" movie it works quite well, but it would hardly be considered a classic were it not for the two stars.

Fort Saganne (1984)
A three hour epic telling the story of French peasant who becomes a great military leader Charles Saganne (Gerard Depardieu). At the time it was filmed, it was one of France's largest budgeted films. The action takes place between 1910 and 1914 in the deserts of the Sahara. Deneuve comes in briefly as a journalist who hopes to maneuver Saganne into bed. She's truly only a guest star, and the film belongs much more to the male lead. It does have a nice epic sweep to it.

The Evidence

In a nutshell, you've got three solid films and two that suffice as entertaining and different. Manon 70, Hotel des Ameriques, and Fort Saganne all have the lavish and lush attributes one would want from a French film with Deneuve. They are sexy, well photographed, and allow her to shine. Le Sauvage is an experimental comedy which seems out of place with the rest, and Le Choc is merely a competent enough thriller to entertain. The last two are significant only because one pairs Deneuve up with Yves Montand and the other with Alain Delon, both male legends of French cinema. But you have to admit for a DVD set with five films, it's a bargain to get all of these in one swoop.

The packaging is inventive, and rather stylish. We get the standard digipak that holds three single sided DVDs, but the sleeve that holds them is made of what feels like black vinyl with a great head shot rendered on the front. It's gorgeously made, and seems like a good idea when you consider who it is representing. At the time of this writing Lions Gate has no plans to release any of the titles individually outside of this set, so the Catherine Deneuve Collection is the only way to get your hands on any of these films. All five movies are put on three discs with only Fort Saganne getting its own single DVD. The idea here seems to be "more cinema and no extras," since the dual layered single sided discs are each holding two features or a three hour epic. Luckily the transfers are solid enough with the films looking surprisingly detailed with bright colors. Artifacts and noise are minimal, although Le Sauvage seems to look a little more intentionally rough during its flashback sequences. All the original aspect ratios are preserved as well as the source material's monaural French soundtracks.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

These are pretty arcane and obscure titles from Catherine's resume, and they certainly aren't a good jumping off point for someone simply curious to see what her allure is. All of these titles are available for the first time on DVD in this region, so fans will be ecstatic to get their hands on them. Still, it's hard to imagine the average viewer finding these cinematic entries anything but curious. The best aspect of the release is the idea that each title comes out to a bargain price, and it'll grow your Deneuve collection by leaps and bounds with one single set. But will anyone truly care other than the Deneuve faithful? Perhaps that is the only audience intended.

Where are the extras? One would assume if you are releasing a set of movies for the Catherine Deneuve fetish fans then you should have photo galleries, interviews, or at least a trailer or two. No such luck. Here the movies are there own extras as if it were enough to have five features on three discs. There is some truth to that idea, but it still doesn't make we wish we had some words from the star and people she worked with to put these films in a context.

Closing Statement

A rather obscure set of films to be sure, the Catherine Deneuve Collection will be most suited for fans. The transfers are solid enough to even be labeled beautiful, but there are no extras for any of the films. Lions Gate has created some innovative packaging for such a stunning actress. If Catherine Deneuve is your muse then this one's a pretty perfect package.

The Verdict

Guilty of bringing me something I can never quite get enough of, Catherine Deneuve.

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Genres

• Drama
• Foreign

Scales of Justice, Manon 70

Video: 90
Audio: 85
Extras: 0
Acting: 95
Story: 95
Judgment: 85

Perp Profile, Manon 70

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (French)
Subtitles:
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Release Year: 1968
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Manon 70

• None

Scales of Justice, Le Sauvage

Video: 85
Audio: 85
Extras: 0
Acting: 85
Story: 80
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile, Le Sauvage

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 1.66:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (French)
Subtitles:
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 103 Minutes
Release Year: 1975
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks, Le Sauvage

• None

Scales of Justice, Hotel Des Ameriques

Video: 90
Audio: 85
Extras: 0
Acting: 90
Story: 90
Judgment: 86

Perp Profile, Hotel Des Ameriques

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (French)
Subtitles:
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 1981
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Hotel Des Ameriques

• None

Scales of Justice, Le Choc

Video: 90
Audio: 85
Extras: 0
Acting: 85
Story: 85
Judgment: 84

Perp Profile, Le Choc

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 1.66:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (French)
Subtitles:
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 1982
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Le Choc

• None

Scales of Justice, Fort Saganne

Video: 92
Audio: 85
Extras: 0
Acting: 95
Story: 88
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile, Fort Saganne

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (French)
Subtitles:
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 180 Minutes
Release Year: 1984
MPAA Rating: Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Fort Saganne

• None








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