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The Bitch (1979)

2.8
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Ratings: 2.8/10 from 678 users  
Reviews: 16 user | 9 critic

The owner of a trendy disco starts having problems with the men in her life and the Mafia, which is trying to move in on her place.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Antonio Cantafora ...
Nico Cantafora (as Michael Coby)
Kenneth Haigh ...
Arnold Rinstead
...
Thrush Feather
...
Lynn
...
Mark Burns ...
...
Hal Leonard
...
Polly Logan
Doug Fisher ...
Sammy
Sharon Fussey ...
Denise (Sammy's Girl)
...
Ricky
George Sweeney ...
Sandy Roots
Maurice Thorogood ...
Paul
Bill Mitchell ...
Bernie
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Storyline

The owner of a trendy disco starts having problems with the men in her life and the Mafia, which is trying to move in on her place.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

December 1979 (Turkey)  »

Also Known As:

A Cabra  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

First full length feature film of Peter Wight. See more »

Quotes

Arnold Rinstead: Anger suits you.
Fontaine Khaled: How about contempt?
See more »

Connections

References Carry on Cleo (1964) See more »

Soundtracks

Giving Up, Giving In
Performed by The Three Degrees
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User Reviews

 
Polyester Poontang
23 February 2012 | by (Tunbridge Wells, England) – See all my reviews

One of the more obscure items in Joan Collins's filmography is a film (written, produced and directed by her eccentric second husband Anthony Newley) with the magnificent title "Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness?", in which she plays a character with the equally wonderful name of Polyester Poontang, a name which I have always thought would have made a good stage name for Collins herself. "Poontang", after all, is a slang term (in America, if not in Britain) for a sexually attractive woman, whereas "polyester" denotes something artificial, a word which sums up Collins's acting at its worst.

In her heyday in the late fifties and early sixties Collins was a star of some magnitude (a fact often overlooked by her detractors), but after failing to land the lead in "Cleopatra" she took a break from acting to spend more time with her family, and on her return was unable to break back into Hollywood. Most of her films from the late sixties and seventies were low-budget British offerings of widely varying quality. At least one of them, "Quest for Love", was excellent, but the majority were anything but, with "I Don't Want to Be Born" a particularly egregious example.

And then, in the late seventies, Polyester hit on a brilliant way of revitalising her career. She would openly admit her true age (hitherto something of a movable feast) and reinvent herself as Britain's first middle-aged sex symbol, the glamorous, sexy Older Woman. Or perhaps not quite the first; her slightly older contemporary Diana Dors had been trying something similar without success, the difference being that Collins, unlike Dors, had preserved her youthful good looks well enough to make such a transformation plausible. The results were "The Stud" and its sequel "The Bitch", both based on novels by Joan's younger sister Jackie Collins. (The third Collins sister, Natasha, famously remarked "One of my sisters writes trash, the other acts in it").

In "The Stud", Joan played Fontaine Khaled, the British wife of a Middle Eastern businessman. (The character was possibly based on Soraya Khashoggi, née Sandra Daly). In its successor, Fontaine is now divorced and the owner of a trendy London nightclub (i.e. disco). Although this is a British film, the word "bitch" in the title is used in the American sense of "sexually promiscuous woman" rather than the more common British usage of "unpleasant or spiteful woman". The plot has something to do with Fontaine's financial problems, a stolen necklace, the Mafia, a horse race and a mustachioed Italian stud- the seventies being the last period in recorded history when a luxuriant moustache denoted rampant heterosexuality rather than the opposite- but none of these elements matter very much. The film-makers were less interested in them than they were in Fontaine's habit of dropping her knickers whenever there is a handsome man (or even an OK-looking man) anywhere in her vicinity.

"The Stud" and "The Bitch" were generally panned by critics, yet both were huge commercial successes, the most successful British films of the seventies apart from the Bond franchise. There is, however, an explanation for this apparent contradiction. The films are little more than soft-core porn, and in an age when porn, whether hard- or soft-core, was much less easily available than it is today, any film involving nudity and sex scenes was virtually guaranteed to be good box-office. Just as the crowds who flocked to see "Emmanuelle" did not do so to admire Sylvia Kristel's acting technique or to polish up their French, so those who flocked to see "The Bitch" had more interest in seeing Joan get her kit off than they did in those aspects of film-making (direction, plot, dialogue, acting, character development, etc.) which are normally the concern of film critics.

Which is just as well as the film is singularly lacking in all those departments. Apart from the incompetence of most of those who had a hand in making it, the film's worst sin is its pretentious tackiness; the scenes of Fontaine's apartment, the supposed luxury hotels and the supposedly high-class nightclub are all obviously intended to convey a sense of luxury and sophistication, but all they do is remind us, forcibly, of just why the seventies are best remembered as the decade that taste forgot.

Collins is the film's only star of any real fame, but even she is just as awful as any of her co-stars. Indeed, her performance is perhaps less forgivable than theirs. They give poor performances because of a basic lack of talent; she gives one because of a total lack of sincerity. It is perhaps ironic that she is best-known for playing sultry femmes fatales, because on the evidence of "The Stud", "The Bitch" and "Dynasty" (where her character Alexis Carrington was essentially Fontaine Khaled toned down to meet the more puritanical standards of prime-time television) it is not the sort of role in which she excelled. Her performance here is marked by a sort of arch, knowing irony; her attitude could not have been more clear if she had worn a t-shirt throughout bearing the slogan "Daahling, I'm really a classically-trained RADA graduate- I'm only acting in this crap because it pays the mortgage".

Collins is on record as alleging that "Can Heironymus Merkin….." was one of the factors leading to the breakdown of her marriage to Newley. This experience did not, however, dissuade her from intermingling her professional career with her marital affairs, as her third husband, Ron Kass, acted as the producer of "The Bitch". When that marriage also broke down a few years later, I am surprised that this film did not feature as an exhibit to her divorce petition. 2/10


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