Hitching a ride on the coat-tails of a tabloid-searing scandal involving a Parisian Madame's tax evasion and subsequent revelation of the names in her little black book that read like a who's who of international politics, Just Jaeckin's stilted wannabe thriller MADAME CLAUDE had scored enough of a box office blast in 1977 to assure this slightly belated sequel. Yet while the "original" had still nurtured lofty delusions well above its cinematic station as polished porn for the mainstream masses, this second installment's considerably more up-front in its intentions, making it far preferable to its predecessor. Directorial chores were handled in workmanlike fashion by François Mimet, who had assisted overlooked sleaze-Meister Sergio Gobbi on LES VORACES and whose only other solo turn at the helm was for the obscure Florence Guérin vehicle LA JEUNE FILLE ET L'ENFER.
Amazingly, the disinterested screenplay assuming that the media mayhem surrounding Claude has made her something of a diplomatic liability to be "taken care of" is credited to no less than three different writers, the single one of note being Lucien Duval, subsequent producer of stylish soft-core fare like Gianfranco Mingozzi's EXPLOITS OF A YOUNG DON JUAN and Polish photographer Tana Kaleya's gauzy FEMMES, the latter accidentally recycling a good deal of this one's cast. Following a juicy opening that has delectable Lise Thoresen who would turn up much later in Georges Lautner's enjoyable LA VIE DISSOLUE DE GERARD FLOQUE donning Frederick of Hollywood type lingerie and covering herself up with a luxurious fur coat as toothsome Kim Harlow warbles Francis Lai's insanely infectious theme song "I Wait for Love" for the first of many, many times, you'll just have to grin and bear it for the next 20 minutes or so as what passes for "plot" is being laboriously set up. Stepping in for Françoise Fabian, who presumably couldn't be bothered to return in one of the least interesting roles she has ever been handed over an otherwise richly varied and distinguished career, Canadian Alexandra Stewart then just in her early forties does full justice to her reputation as one of European cinema's great screen beauties. If you're looking for her to bare some skin however, you'd better check out George Kaczender's all too casually dismissed IN PRAISE OF OLDER WOMEN.
To quote Ned Flanders, Claude's in a dilly of a pickle (or should that be the other way round ?), what with political bigwigs left, right and center wanting her out of the way now that another intrepid reporter has established the link between them. She turns to loyal attorney Paul Barton, played by the late Bernard Fresson whose rent must have been due. Suffice it to say that both Stewart and Fresson spend an awful amount of time on the phone, literally phoning it in, discussing presumably weighty matters that no one cares about, least of all the director. The movie improves immeasurably when Claude sends out her charges to all corners of the globe in order to strengthen international relations. Saucy Swedish Lena Karlsson, portraying the most inept cello player in movie history (witness her attempts to sync her movements to the soundtrack for an unintended hoot), is summoned by a glamorous Hong Kong banker (seductive Isabelle Lacamp, also in Francis Giacobetti's EMMANUELLE 2) to perform in more ways than one for her voyeuristic benefit with luscious servant girl Béatrice Philippe, one of the leads in Jacques Orth's hard to see exotic travelogue CEYLON MY LOVE. Also appearing in that movie was Dirke Altevogt, the third stunning Scandinavian on display here as housewife and mother of two (with those hips ? I doubt it) Helen, crossing the channel to satisfy the kinky cravings (but of course) of a British Lord with a passion for horseback riding. No prizes for guessing what position she's gonna wind up in.
Living up to the promise she quite literally showed during the credits sequence, tantalizing Thoresen takes the cake as she travels to some unnamed Arab country to take care of its crown prince, played by impossibly scrumptious David Jalil, whom you may recall as the newly virginal heroine's post-op (none of this makes sense unless you've actually seen the flick) brutish lover in Giacobetti's endearingly ludicrous EMMANUELLE 4. This elaborate sequence, sumptuously shot in the rolling surf on a tropical beach, will make one question Mimet's sexual proclivities as noticeably more time is spent artfully framing the thrusting Jalil's bucking buns (nice ones BTW) rather than lovely Lise's slender frame ! None of this coy suggestion will appeal to the current Internet generation for whom graphic penetration is never more than a few mouse clicks away but it provides a real treat for those of you who, very much like myself, still vividly recall the in hindsight oh so innocent thrill of sneaking into an R-rated movie whilst still underage or taping off Skinemax behind our parents' backs. Honestly, I miss those days
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