Celestine, the chamber-maid, has a new job in the country, at the Lanlaires. She has decided to use her beauty to seduce a wealthy man, but Mr. Lanlaire is not a right choice: the house is ... See full summary »
Celestine, the chambermaid, has new job on the country. The Monteils, who she works for are a group of strange people. The wife is frigid, her husband is always hunting (both animals and ... See full summary »
In medieval France, traveler Pygar tells he-man Karzan (Maciste in the French version) of his recent journey to a place called Antigua, and of its entire community of Amazons promising ... See full summary »
After her recent release from a deep psychiatric care, a Libertine-styled countess goes back to very evil ways, trainer her sights on a pretty girl with the intention to destroy her after fully corrupting her body and soul.
Five teenagers violently escape a reformatory school in an Argentinean province. They must journey a hundred kilometers on foot, across the hills, for the promise of a home to continue ... See full summary »
Through the childhood and the adolescence of Giacomo Casanova (from his memoirs), this is a description of how people live in the Venice of the 18th century: customs, habits, medecine, ... See full summary »
Maria Grazia Buccella,
A young woman is hired to care for an elderly man who lives on an island off the Greek coast. When she arrives there the man warns her that his daughters are evil and dangerous. The woman ... See full summary »
In Puerto Rico, a down-on-his-luck private detective is hired by a woman to take compromising photos of her husband, a notorioous nightclub owner. After he finishes the job, he finds ... See full summary »
CELESTINE AN ALL ROUND MAID (Jesus Franco, 1974) **
To begin with, the opening credits of this English-dubbed version (of mediocre quality, which does not preclude a word of thanks from me to its enthusiastic supplier, a Venetian friend of mine!) omits any mention of it being in any way based on Octave Mirbeau's novel "Diary Of A Chambermaid", previously idiosyncratically filmed by Frenchman Jean Renoir in the U.S. and Spaniard Luis Bunuel in France (the very same situation as Jess Franco and his 'adaptation' except for the end result, of course!).
Since Franco's career has had many phases, most people are drawn to one while being disappointed or, like the undersigned, left scratching their head at virtually all the others. So far, I have tried films from all these various periods except for the latest (though I own the reasonably well-received SNAKEWOMAN  from it) but I find myself more comfortable with his work emanating from the 1961-1971 years. Others, however, consider his "Robert De Nesle" titles (dating approximately from 1970-1978) his most creative from which I only really like 3 i.e. 1971's A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD, 1973's THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR and 1974's LORNA THE EXORCIST. With this in mind, though I watched the film as part of my ongoing Bunuel retrospective, it is practically useless to compare it with his version (much less the Renoir one). The thing is that Franco has made of it a sex comedy complete with silly score pretty much on the similarly bawdy and vacuous lines (read invincibly low-brow) of Italian efforts dating from the same period and featuring any number of popular starlets (and which have by now acquired a largely undeserved cult reputation)!
To be honest, the only reason I ended up not rating this even less than I did was the fact that Celestine's presence in the household ultimately brought its members closer together. Incidentally, her obsession with sex (though, truth be told, all characters seem to share this and, by extension, so does the director amazingly, the script was written by Jess' wife Nicole Guettard, while the leading lady was her replacement in his life i.e. Lina Romay!) is excused here by making the heroine a prostitute (at one point, she 'services' practically the entire household in quick succession, having to hide away every 'client' with each new knock at her bedroom door!). At least, Franco displays some inventiveness with the sex scenes so as to avoid slipping into hardcore territory (were it that he adopted this much tact more often)!
The cast is peppered with his regulars from this era, notably Howard Vernon (embarrassing as a bed-ridden old-timer), Pamela Stanford (playing the naïve daughter here, this at least attests to her versatility since she would play the witch Lorna soon after!), Lynne Monteil (whom I had liked in the same year's EXORCISM, now as the lady of the house), Monica Swinn (curiously uncredited) but, unfortunately, also Bigotini (who with his plump features and thick whiskers makes for the least ideal lover one could imagine, and a far cry from his sinister counterpart in the Renoir and Bunuel versions!). In the end, having finally just purchased Mirbeau's source novel, I know there is little chance of it being closer to the Franco film than those of the two more renowned directors (both of whom are among my absolute favorites). Then again, the person who regaled me with this copy of CELESTINE also sent along a book he edited and personally contributed to about "Uncle Jess" (as he is affectionately called by hardened fans) which I appreciated a great deal more (and intend delving into in the near future) than this very minor effort in his never-ending legacy...
3 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?