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Well made--not too believable perhaps (but who's gonna complain?)
A young woman falls in love with a notorious bandit and is put in a convent by her family. When she hears that her lover has been killed trying to visit her, she decides to remain in the convent and rises to position of Mother Superior surprisingly quickly. However, due to her sordid past (not to mention the fact that she is played by uber-sexy Barbara Bouchet), she arouses the lust of the local bishop, and, after an unplanned pregnancy, ends up becoming a pawn in simmering Vatican intrigue. . .
This is an early 70's "nunsploitation" picture, which means it is neither supernatural like a lot of the later, post-"Exorcist" ones (i.e. "Alucarda"), nor is it a total softcore sex romp like those made closer to the end of the decade (i.e. "Images in a Convent"). It also differs from contemporary "nunspolitation" entries like "Story of a Cloistered" and "The Nuns of St. Archangel" in that it doesn't really have an ensemble cast--instead of having a voluptuous older woman (Anne Heywood, Suzie Kendall) as the Mother Superior and a nubile lovely (Eleanora Giorgi, Ornella Muti, Jenny Tamburi) as the young initiate committed by her parents, the two roles are kind of combined here in Barbara Bouchet, who pretty much carries the whole movie. In this respect, the movie mostly resembles "Flavia, the Heretic" with Florinda Bolkan, but with a lot less graphic violence.
The movie does make some serious criticisms of the Church as they hypocritically indulge in their vices and schemes, isolated from the ignorant, superstitious people who are suffering from a terrible drought in the medieval Italian countryside. There's a very interesting, and no doubt metaphoric, scene where a "snake man" shows up at the convent and throws live snakes on a bonfire while all the nuns dance around in orgasmic ecstasy. The director Armando Crispino ("Autopsy", "Frankenstein all'Italia") is definitely as talented as anyone else that worked in this genre. Of course, the movie doesn't neglect to get the lovely Bouchet naked at the slightest pretext. This hurts the realism a little--none of the actresses mentioned above were especially believable as nuns (if they were, I would have enjoyed Catholic school a lot more), but a habit-less Bouchet, barely 30 at the time, is especially hard to buy as a "Mother Superior". Still, she's tries her best, and I'm sure no one then or now is going to complain.
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