Monday, March 29, 2021

Blue Ecstasy (1976)

Reviewing this one is a little tricky. Let's start with the title. From what I can gather, the original French title of Frederic Lansac's film is Blue Ecstasy, but it was also released as (translated to English, in some cases) Experiments in Blue, Extra-Marital Ecstasies, Perverted Games of Insatiable Girls, and Games for an Unfaithful Wife (which is the version that seems most widely available, on DVD and streaming services). The box copy for the 64-minute Games for... describes it thusly:

"Offer yourself everything that makes you happy!" This is the unwise telegram sent by unfaithful husband to his wife that he abandoned on the day of their wedding anniversary to join a young and fiery mistress in London. The Abandoned wife seeks then revenge by taking the word "happy" to mean pleasure in the carnal sense of the word and discovers ecstasies she had hitherto forgotten. The regal and lecherous Frederic Lansac attracted a record number of viewers when his film was released September 22, 1976 In Paris rooms in Alpha France.

Change "hitherto forgotten" to "never known" and it would be a reasonable enough description. The first ten minutes show anniversaries one through four of Joelle (Marie-Christine Guennec) and William Legrand (Jean-Louis Vattier).

For the first, William chastises Joelle for trying to blow him since he doesn't want his "wife acting like a whore."

For the second, William presents Joelle with housekeeper Laurene (Michele Grubert) since "the apartment is too much work for" her. Then, they have some sex until he remembers a Dutch client he needs to take care of and cuts things short to make a phone call.

For the third, Joelle and William celebrate with William's brother Eric (Patrick Segalas) and his new bride Ange (Micky Love). Eric and Ange are all over each other, and when William again needs to take a phone call, Joelle falls into a fantasy of her in the mix with the newlyweds.

For the fourth, William and Joelle are again celebrating (or, I should say "celebrating" since William is a real barrel of laughs asking, "Aren't we getting too old for nonsense like this?") with Eric and Ange. This time, Eric's friend Billy (Jean-Paul Allais) has joined as well. After William leaves to show a client Paris by night, Eric asks Joelle if she's happy. Whether she believes it or not, she promptly answers that she is. After a bit more champagne, Eric and Joelle are seated beside one another opposite Billy and Ange. When Billy starts heavily petting Ange, Eric begins feeling Joelle up, which she seems to enjoy until realizing maybe she's enjoying it too much, and excuses herself for the evening.

The remainder of the film takes place on Joelle and William's fifth anniversary. William is in London with his British mistress, and when she mentions their anniversary, he realizes the mistake he's made and rushes to send Joelle flowers and the aforementioned "unwise telegram".

William's insistence that Joelle "have fun" jump starts a day of sexual discovery that includes a lesbian spa tryst with Laurene, blowing a policeman in a phone booth, exploring anal sex with a couple that advertises their services on restroom walls, dabbling in voyeurism (by inviting a young couple making out in a park up to her appointment and then concocting a series of reasons to "interrupt" them) and exhibitionism (parking in public, dropping the top of her convertible, and rubbing one out), and group sex, finally making it with Eric while Billy and Ange ball.

While Joelle's finding herself sexually, William has a crisis of conscience, unable to get back to Paris due to an airport strike. It's hard to tell which he regrets more: cheating on Joelle with his annoying and childish mistress or that a liberal interpretation of the telegram could have Joelle buy herself expensive jewelry, a fur coat, or a Rolls Royce.

When he finally is able to return, he confesses everything and vows to "start being a real husband again." He asks for Joelle's forgiveness, but she's passed out; understandable given the day she had.

As it is here, it's a tidy little film. Joelle's feelings and motivations aren't particularly explored but you can assume she's not happy in her marriage. The thing is, there's a 78-minute version of the film that sheds much more light on the story, but the only copy I could find was in German without subtitles. Whenever I come across adult films that have versions that vary by 8-20 minutes, I assume that the cuts involve "extreme" content (water sports, BDSM, fisting, etc.). Here, the hardcore that was cut was about half of the Joelle/Laurene spa scene and post-popshot frolicking between Joelle and Ange. Maybe the editor had some anti-lesbian bias? Weird. More importantly, though, the cuts included a scene in which Joelle calls a sex therapist* to ask what kind of sexual experiences someone her age would be expected to have, and she's basically given a list of the activities she'd seek out later that day.

It's such an integral part to cut, I'd be curious to find out if there was an issue with the original film and a quality print wasn't available during the remaster. Additionally, during the Joelle/Ange footage, there were multiple cuts to William's rush to the airport and back to Paris that helped frame his final plea to Joelle.

Let's see what Rimmer had to say (and see if we can't figure out which cut he may have seen):

This one is advertised as one of the 10 best films on the European circuit in 1981. Made in Paris, it has an underlying sense of laughter that escapes most American producers. It also offers many of the interesting Parisian exterior and interior scenes that will make you want to take off for Paris.

Sure, okay. I'll tell you what, though, the bulk of his entry is exactly what I had in mind when I started this project. This one may well set the record for shit he got wrong:

After reading a book that her brother has written about sexual freedom, Joelle decides that it's time for her to experiment.

Eric is explicitly William's brother and his book (Sex and Liberty) has yet to be published, as mentioned in the toast to Billy (the publisher) at the fourth anniversary dinner.

Soon she is blowing a surprised but willing chauffeur while he stands near his limousine in busy Paris traffic.

Not a chauffeur. Not a limousine. Not in traffic.

Then she tries the maid, and a few days later a session with the husband of a friend.

She "tried" the maid first, the couple in the "session" were definitely strangers to her, and everything for sure took place on the same day.

By the time William arrives home, Joelle has been to a group-sex party sponsored by her brohter, but tired as she is, she's happy to see William again and is still loving.

Again, Eric and William are brothers. And I know it's subjective, but I don't think she seemed particularly happy to see William, just generally blissed out by her erotic expedition. So much for figuring out which cut (64- or 78-minutes) he saw: it seems like he only half-watched a version that wasn't translated and just guessed at what was going on. (I will mention that he lists the film as Experiments in Blue, so maybe the Caballero release really was that different....)

There were elements that reminded me of High Rise, but Blue Ecstasy (or whichever title you want to give it) lacked the extra oomph that elevated High Rise to a CC5. I'll rate Blue Ecstasy CC25.

* I don't speak German, but I was able to find an online service provided AI-generated subtitles to uploaded videos. Then I used Google Translate to turn that into English. Needless to say, the audio from a digital version of a VHS-copy of a 40 year old movie wasn't great, but there was more than enough that translated accurately-ish to piece the scene together.

° I'm 99% sure the dick Joelle sucks in the telephone booth is (mostly) Jean-Louis Vattier's and not the cop's (Gerald Thomas; though his shows up a couple times in the scene). I'm not sure if it was symbolic - that Joelle was imagining it as William's since he wouldn't allow her to fellate him - or practical - that Thomas couldn't get it up.

° Blue Ecstasy shares a rating with compatriot Erotic Pleasures. Of Rimmer's review I wrote, "The only thing Rob whiffed on is that he said that the film took place over a few days, whereas it was definitely only one day." I guess there's something about French films that made him incapable of perceiving the passage of time....

° This is actually the second Lansac film I've watched since rebooting Pornonomy. The first was the excellent La femme-objet, which I found by way of Your Online Secret's post. It does not appear in Rimmer's book, as far as I know, anyway, since it doesn't show up under it's American release title (Programmed for Pleasure) or it's other - even less apt - ay-kay-ay French Girls for Pleasure. Had Rimmer reviewed it, I'm certain it would have been a Collector's Choice, though, so perhaps I'll review it at some point.



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