In this excoriating satire of the fashion industry, Polly Maggoo is a 20-year-old Brooklyn-born fashion model in Paris, on the runway at the big shows where magazine editor Ms. Maxwell is ... See full summary »
In this excoriating satire of the fashion industry, Polly Maggoo is a 20-year-old Brooklyn-born fashion model in Paris, on the runway at the big shows where magazine editor Ms. Maxwell is the reigning opinion maker. The ridiculous passes for sublime. Polly becomes the subject of an episode of a vapid TV news documentary series called "Qui êtes-vous?" and is pursued by the filmmaker and by the prince of Borodine, a small country in the Soviet bloc. We watch as the documentary is shot, we await Polly's arrival in the principality, we observe a lunch in the suburbs, and we learn of her childhood. Is there more to Polly than her pretty face? Is anything below the surface? Written by
Too bad this European cult film of the Sixties, written and directed by an American whose photo documentary reportage on New York, Rome, and Tokyo is legendary, is all but impossible to track down here in North America. After years of fruitless searching I finally attended two screenings at the Whitney Museum of Art in 1997. The main draw in this film for me was Grayson Hall, who portrays Miss Maxwell, Editor of Vogue magazine--a character so closely based on Director William Klein's former boss Diana Vreeland, it's amazing Vreeland didn't sue for libel. Grayson Hall was flown over specially from America to do this. Try to get the original French language version--she spoke French and her accent, and delivery, are priceless. (She referred to the experience acerbically as "Hell, honey!") The film's eponymous star Dorothy MacGowan was chosen at random from a crowd shot of Beatles girls welcoming the Fab Four at a New York airport. MacGowan stands at the center of a wildly gyrating scenario that satirizes pretty much everything in mid Sixties French society that is or isn't nailed down--politics, fashion, the media, the idealization of rural life and French traditions--taking frequent detours into fantasy sequences and even including some animated segments that must have helped inspire the animated interludes in the original Monty Python series. The score by Michel Legrand has some brilliant moments, particularly during the opening sequence featuring sheet metal fabricated fashions; the rest of the film never quite lives up to the promise of this inaugural tour de force.
Still, as a time capsule of Sixties effulgence, it's well worth tracking down. Let's hope somebody "rediscovers" it and brings it out on video, pronto! With the original letterbox ratio, bien sur.
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