Monthly Archives: December 1974

PENTHESILEA: QUEEN OF THE AMAZON (1974 review)

From Monthly Film Bulletin, December 1974 (Vol. 41, No. 491).

I must admit that the hyperbole of the last couple of sentences here embarrasses me now. But readers can judge for themselves, because this first feature by Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen has recently become available as an extra on the BFI DVD of Riddles of the Sphinx. –- J.R.

Great Britain, 1974 Directors: Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen

The film is composed of five sequences, each preceded by a quotation. 1: “Ghost white like a not yet written page” (Mallarmé, “Mimique” ): A mime of Kleist’s Penthesilea, filmed in long shot from a fixed camera position. 2: “The shadows sprinkled in black characters” (Mallarmé, “Quant au livre”): A lecture on Kleist’s play, the myth of Penthesilea and the theoretical basis of the film, delivered by Peter Wollen while moving about a terrace and adjoining living room, the camera tracing an independent trajectory within the same confined space and occasionally approaching the index cards of notes left behind by Wollen at various stages in his route. 3: “Blazons of phobia, seals of self-punishment” (Lacan, after Vico): A succession of images relating to Penthesilea and the Amazons — paintings, sculptures, artifacts, tapestries, etc., including frames from a Wonder Woman comic book — separated by animated wipes and maskings, and accompanied on the soundtrack by Berio’s “Visage”.… Read more »

Le Trio Infernal, Un Homme Qui Dort, Steppenwolf

From Oui (December 1974). – J.R.

the-infernal-trio

Le Trio lnfernal. It’s the Christmas season and Michel Piccoli shoots

a man in the eye — straight through a newspaper he’s reading — while

downstairs, Romy Schneider is finishing off Andrea Ferreol with

similar dispatch. The bodies are stripped clean and plunked into

adjacent bathtubs,  which Piccoli promptly fills with  sulfuric acid.

Mascha Gomska, Schneider’s sister — who completes the infernal

trio of murderers who slaughter people for their life insurance –

barfs on the living-room carpet, while offscreen, excited by all

these gay and yummy events, Schneider is giving Piccoli an

impromptu blowjob in the bathroom. Later on, after the bodies have

decomposed, Piccoli dons a gas mask, ladles the slop into pails,

then empties the heady stew outdoors while one of the girls is

shown eating spaghetti. Excessive? This Grand Guignol comedy is

nothing but, as it chronicles the exploits of three glamorous

monsters butchering their way to wealth, with lots of kinky sex

on the way. Francis Girod, a producer-turned-director, exhibits an

unusual amount of expertise in his first film.  But most of the show

belongs to Piccoli, who dances through all of the Thirties décor

performing a veritable concerto of comic invention.… Read more »

POPSY POP (THE 21 CARAT SNATCH) (1974 review)

From Monthly Film Bulletin, December 1974 (Vol. 41, No. 491). — J.R.

Popsy Pop (The 21 Carat Snatch)

France/Italy, 1970
Director: Jean Herman

Guiana. Plateau, Venezuela. In a ramshackle ‘boom town’, occupied by the natives who work the local diamond mine, the glamorous Popsy Pop arrives –ostensibly to divert the workers with her sexy cabaret act, but actually in order to distract Silva, the mine-company inspector, from a two-million-dollar diamond heist planned for the night of her arrival. Masterminded by Marcou, an ageing criminal who loves Popsy Pop, and carried out with the help of his henchmen Tormenta, Blanchette and Freddy -– who pilots the getaway helicopter — the robbery proceeds as planned: Silva is knocked unconscious in the singer’s dressing room and the diamonds are taken from the company office. But Popsv Pop and Freddy betray the rest of the gang by leaving without them. The angry workers kill Blanchette and Tormenta, but Silva persuades them to spare Marcou in the interests of recovering the diamonds — and offers the latter a cut of the reward in addition to a chance to avenge Popsy Pop’s double-cross. She has meanwhile taken a plane to Santa Domingo with Freddy, and places the diamonds in a safe deposit box, hiding the key in a jar of cold cream.… Read more »