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Slogan (1969)

GP  -  Comedy | Drama  -  27 July 1969 (France)
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In Venice, forty-old-year old Serge Fabergé has just been given the best advertisement director award. While taking a walk on the Piazza San Marco, Serge meets Evelyn Nicholson, a ... See full summary »



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Complete credited cast:
Serge Fabergé
Evelyne Nicholson
Andréa Parisy ...
Le père d'Evelyne / Father
Henri-Jacques Huet ...
M. Joly
Juliet Berto ...
L'assistante de Serge / Secretary
Pierre Doris ...
(credit only)
Marie-Christine Boulard
Gilles Millinaire ...
James Mitchell ...
Hugh (as James-X-Mitchell)


In Venice, forty-old-year old Serge Fabergé has just been given the best advertisement director award. While taking a walk on the Piazza San Marco, Serge meets Evelyn Nicholson, a twenty-three-year-old English beauty. He falls passionately in love with her and, as a result, starts neglecting his charming wife, Françoise, going so far as to consider divorcing her. But having a young fiery insatiable mistress is not without drawbacks... Written by Guy Bellinger

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Comedy | Drama


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Release Date:

27 July 1969 (France)  »

Also Known As:

L'amour et l'amour  »

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Nadir of Swinging '60s Cinema
16 July 2009 | by (New York, New York) – See all my reviews

I knew of this film's existence from the early '70s but never had a chance to see it until the inexplicable CULT EPICS DVD release. It was the penultimate film released by Columbia Pictures' art film subsidiary Royal Films Intl. subsidiary, a label that brought out many classic films including THE PUMPKIN EATER, REPULSION, CHINA IS NEAR, MASCULIN-FEMININ (and others by Godard), Visconti's SANDRA, the great black comedy NOTHING BUT THE BEST and Rosi's SALVATORE GIULIANO. The financial debacle at the end of the '60s caused the studios to retrench, and these art imports disappeared.

I've also seen the final Royal 1970 release, SERAFINO, an unsung minor classic by the great Pietro Germi. It is instructive that Germi exploited the talent of performer Adriano Celentano in Serafino, keeping the singer under control in a dramatic role, but in Slogan we have director Pierre Grimblat apparently ceding control to multi-threat talent Serge Gainsbourg. The result is the apotheosis of '60s film-making: exactly what Frank Capra memorably complained about in his autobiography: he had retired from cinema after run-ins with star/producers Glenn Ford and Frank Sinatra late in his career. Capra was far more comfortable back in the Factory days, when he only had to worry about petty tyrants like Harry Cohn, and not the ego-tripping "lunatics who had taken over the asylum", to quote the oft-cited cliché about the decline of Hollywood.

After sitting through Slogan over 40 years after it was made, I was struck by the indulgence here -the sheer contempt for the audience. Godard made the famous CONTEMPT, and he always struck me as the leader of the relatively new trend (in the '60s) of a filmmaker looking down on the viewer, frankly insulting those who had bought a ticket. This became more obvious in the pornography to come as cinema became liberalized, where downright insults levied at anyone stupid enough to "sit through this trash" became commonplace. The director is Pierre Grimblat, who has had a lengthy career as a producer, dabbling in directing from time to time. Key to understanding his point of view is his earlier Eddie Constantine vehicle THE EMPIRE OF NIGHT, which spoofs the tough guy genre of which Eddie was a typecast icon, better satirized in Godard's ALPHAVILLE 3 years later. The anything goes, goofy direction of SLOGAN was forecast there, even though Grimblat had directed a solid, well-worth reviving farce HOW NOT TO ROB A DEPARTMENT STORE in between the 2 pictures (I last saw that one in NYC some 25 years ago).

Gainsbourg's character Fabergé, a TV advertisements director with dreams of making a feature film (sounds like Bob Giraldi, Michael Jackson's pilot in BEAT IT) is one of the most insufferable blokes ever to lead a movie cast. He is sullen and nasty to women throughout, misogynist with a capital M. From a dramatic or structural point-of-view, his exaggerated behavior is so reprehensible it seems to be a satire, but is played straight and very difficult to watch. Everyone commenting on this film seems to give kudos to its capturing his real-life romance with British starlet Jane Birkin; all I can say is yawn -we've seen many movies, notably the Taylor/Burton string, where off-screen shenanigans are paramount, and it is strictly a cop-out to focus on these digressions when evaluating the film's actual content. How do distractions become a plus -what alchemy of criticism is at work here?

The technical incompetence of Grimblat is glaring -many, many porno films of this same era, made on no budgets as one-day-wonders, have better post-synching of sound; in some scenes the viewer can actually visualize some poor devil in a studio clacking sea shells together or some other lame device dating back to radio in the '20s, to crudely fill up some time on the soundtrack. Birkin's dialog delivery is particularly annoying -especially in comparison with dozens of excellent performances she subsequently gave, culminating in Rivette's masterpiece La Belle Noiseuse.

I'm assuming Grimblat shot the film silently, in the tradition of Italian and Eastern European cinema, because we are meant to hear the music of Gainsbourg and little else. I'm not a fan of his work, and in cinematic terms at best he reminds me occasionally of Claude Bolling (see: BORSALINO, made a year later). Obviously, it helps to be a Gainsbourg fan (read: fanatic) to sit through this -all others, beware.

Ultimately SLOGAN is about its ostensible satire of advertising, laid on with a trowel, and the dated '60s concentration on surface glamor. Our stars cavort in pop art interiors (often embarrassingly as in Birkin's big Isadora Duncan scene dancing around as she opens closets) or are subjects of travelogue shots in fancy sports cars and wandering around the seamier neighborhoods of always-photogenic Venice. It was Swinging London that epitomized this approach to film back then, but Grimblat's visual pollution is even harder to watch.

With literally hundreds of classic French films of the '60s that have been completely forgotten in America (I will suggest for starters SUNDAYS AND CYBELE, THE WANDERER by Albicocco and Jessua's LIFE UPSIDE DOWN), why should a misfire like SLOGAN be exhumed instead? I blame this on a major inversion in film appreciation and scholarship, dating back to the pernicious Medveds (Golden Turkey Awards) and now spearheaded by Tarantino. It's always about money, and crap with sensationalistic content (D'Amato, Franco, Sarno, Tinto, etc.), preferably sex and/or horror, is flooding the marketplace at the expense of quality cinema. That's what the ignorant and impressionable fans gravitate toward, especially when self-educated experts like Quentin give it the stamp of approval. Put simply, SLOGAN has a hook -it's marketable.

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