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French Dressing (1964)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama | 11 September 1964 (USA)
A drab little English seaside town tries to improve its image - and increase its revenues - by holding a film festival. When a famous continental star agrees to attend, things get out of hand.


Ken Russell


Peter Myers (screenplay), Ronald Cass (screenplay) | 4 more credits »


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Cast overview:
James Booth James Booth ... Jim Stephens
Roy Kinnear ... Henry Liggott
Marisa Mell ... Françoise Fayol
Alita Naughton Alita Naughton ... Judy
Bryan Pringle ... The Mayor
Robert Robinson Robert Robinson ... Robert Robinson
Germaine Delbat Germaine Delbat ... Frenchwoman
Norman Pitt Norman Pitt ... Westbourne Mayor
Henry McCarty Henry McCarty ... Bridgmouth Mayor
Sandor Elès ... Vladek


A drab little English seaside town tries to improve its image - and increase its revenues - by holding a film festival. When a famous continental star agrees to attend, things get out of hand.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Film With a Lot of Body!


Comedy | Drama


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

11 September 1964 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Abbigliamento francese See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (Original Workprint)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The producer Kenneth Harper had felt disappointed throughout the production and Elstree all but wanted the film to disappear following completion. Even the studio projectionists were overheard by Ken Russell to criticize the film with only a positive affection for the music. With the sudden popularity of James Booth following the release of Zulu, Elstree agreed to put the film out on a small circuit in 1964. Ken Russell attended the premiere in London with pride but quickly discovered that the audience were not pleased with the film. He sat through the after party isolated and left to spend the night drinking between the local bars before passing out and being moved on from the steps of Lloyds Bank by a policeman. He later announced that he never wanted to do a feature film again and returned to working with the BBC. See more »


The Mayor: [attending the showing of Francoise's film with her, both seated in the front row] We should be in the back row!
Françoise Fayol: [not understanding his innuendo] Why - are you long-sighted?
The Mayor: Quite the coquette, aren't you?
See more »

Alternate Versions

In the release print as owned and screened by the British Film Institute, the ending sequence titles are different from the Studiocanal owned prints (available on DVD) with no credit given to actress Germaine Delbat, while a dedicated message of acknowledgment to Michael Arthur Film Productions is shown on behalf of the producers. See more »


Featured in Sunday Night: Don't Shoot the Composer (1966) See more »


Hearts and Flowers
Music by Theodore Moses-Tobani
Arrangement by Georges Delerue
See more »

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User Reviews

There's disagreement, and there's discourtesy
5 March 2001 | by stryker-5See all my reviews

I am certainly not above criticism. I get things badly wrong sometimes. Visitors to IMDb often correct me in forthright terms, and when they do, I write to thank them. However, it's one thing to point out errors, and quite another to trash an honest opinion because it doesn't happen to chime with your own.

The other person who has reviewed "French Dressing" (probably the only other person who has SEEN it) goes by the nickname of 'hernebay'. This individual accuses my review of 'hastiness' (evidence, please?) and tells the world that my description of the film is 'distorted by ... animosity'. I challenge hernebay, or anyone for that matter, to point to a single inaccuracy in my review. Where are these distortions?

I take it that I am included among 'those determined to make hostile judgments'. This is simply wrong. I watched the film and found it weak and unconvincing. Hernebay cannot possibly comment on my state of mind as I saw the opening credits rolling. He or she does me a disservice by accusing me of bias. But then, Ken Russell himself (we learn from hernebay) didn't understand the film, and he directed it!

If I am open to criticism because I mention the film's stock devices, so be it. The feeble humour on display owes more to the Boulting Brothers and Ealing than to 1960's 'with-it' sensibility, and the lame gags were already old by 1963 - it is no argument at all to claim that we're viewing this tawdry effort from the wrong end of the 60's.

The film is about much more, hernebay tells us, than a French sex-bomb meeting randy English councillors. Viewers who can find more to it than that are welcome to write to me and explain whatever it is that I'm missing. What it's REALLY about, according to hernebay, is 'a loving parody of the French Nouvelle Vague' (dealt with in my review, actually), 'wistful lyricism' (praised in my review, actually) and what hernebay sees as links forward in time to a TV series (these links are not explained) and backwards to Victorian operetta (oh come on!)

I pointed out that the film catches one of the first whiffs of vibrant-youth-versus-pompous-middle-age, that overused 1960's format, and went on to explain that "French Dressing" is just too early to do it properly, remaining stylistically and psychologically in the 1950's of Jimmy Porter and Archie Rice. Hernebay tries to have it both ways, blaming me for not understanding the stuffy mood of 1963 (Christine Keeler etc.), and at the same time not seeing that this is the first of the "pop" films. Anyone who cares to read what I actually wrote may feel that these carpings are unwarranted.

I didn't CONCEDE that Naughton is pretty. I SAID she is. My point was that she disappeared after this flop. Hernebay points out that she starred in another damp Russell squib. My point exactly! The reason why her stocking-tops are ridiculous is that she has just removed a pair of jeans. Perhaps hernebay knows a lot of women who wear stockings and suspenders under jeans. I don't. Hernebay thinks the cinema riot is well filmed, and on that point we will never agree. See the film and form your own view.

I am, it seems, hostile and prejudiced. In a sense, this is true. I am hostile and prejudiced towards slapdash films which try to be funny but fail miserably. Hernebay gives Russell credit for knowing that parts of a Kent town would collapse in the following decade. Pardon me for not commending the auteur's prescience.

If hernebay had taken the trouble to read any of my other reviews, he/she would have seen that for my summary I almost always lift an apt quotation from the screenplay. It is simply foolish and unfair to accuse me of not knowing what I was doing when I quoted Judy.

There is a difference between defending a much-loved work from unmerited abuse, and simply refusing to acknowledge its weaknesses, just as there is a difference between honestly disagreeing with someone, and mounting a discourteous attack on him.

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