5.4/10
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L'enfer sur la plage (1966)

Alex, a former mercenary out of business, lives on a yacht anchored off Antibes with his wife, the beautiful and tight Helen and John, her former lover.

Director:

José Bénazéraf
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Cast

Cast overview:
Marina Nicolaïdes Marina Nicolaïdes ... Hélène / Wife
Georges Claess Georges Claess ... Alex / Husband
Georges Planchon Georges Planchon ... Jean
Monique Thiriet Monique Thiriet
Bob Lerique Bob Lerique
Edmée Morand Edmée Morand
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Storyline

Alex, a former agent retired from business, lives on a yacht anchored off Antibes in the company of his wife, the beautiful and hermetic Helen, the unfaithful wife wishing to change lives and John, her former lover who is also Alex's ex-assistant. Outside the trio, a crew of half a dozen men also lives on the boat. Alex's past is particularly busy. Ex-agent of the British secret services, the MI5, his last mission was to deliver arms to a country of the Middle East. A mission trap insofar as the weapons in question were unusable, which obviously knew MI5, but that Alex was unaware. Since then, the spy has not only been hunted down by the Arab country, but also by his former partners who want to silence an embarrassing witness. Probably sent by the English, a blonde, Galatea, like a marine nymph, begins to seduce Alex, to delay the departure of his boat by the time he gets killed. Meanwhile, Galatea and domineering Ortrud, in the pay of the Middle East to whom Alex had delivered ...

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Genres:

Crime | Drama

User Reviews

Change of pace for Benazeraf
18 January 2011 | by lor_See all my reviews

HELL ON THE BEACH is an ambitious, odd-film-out in the cinematography of Jose Benazeraf, among France's best (and best-known) pornographers. He brought his A game and even left his porn trademarks at home, for a stylish, fairly abstract spy exercise.

As far back as 1963 Benazeraf was filling the screen with very attractive nude Frenchwomen, getting his films exported to the U.S. on a regular basis. These were the days when he was in head-to-head competition with Max Pecas, and both auteurs caught the eye of Radley Metzger and other leading American genre distributors.

BEACH has never been released in America, undoubtedly because, for once, Jose left out all of the nude scenes. To be sure, he has a luscious blonde leading lady who is frequently teasing the viewer and her co-stars by disrobing, but she oddly and chastely keeps her hands covering her unadorned breasts at all times, anticipating the Yip style of Hong Kong filmmaking 20 or 30 years in the future.

A very, very lengthy pre-credits crawl identifies the story as having been based on a secret MI-5 mission, and there are brief scenes (plus token stock footage) expanding the film's scope to include London. But what makes BEACH interesting is precisely its atmospheric reliance on a story set on the beach & rocks plus an off-shore yacht, all of which figure prominently in the action.

We're treated to intriguing twists and turns, double and triple crosses, and I was especially impressed by the fact that characters initially depicted as almost stereotypical villains and bad girls ultimately turn out to be the good guys (and also some vice versa, regarding clean-cut looking hero types).

Why Benazeraf jettisoned his usual sex and nudity content is beyond me. It wouldn't have detracted from the film (which has many logical places to include it), and the fans have come to expect it. By a decade later he was reduced to grinding out by the pound hardcore porn lacking the high style exhibited here, so I'm confused as to why he went to the opposite extreme this time around.

One early scene in an MI-5 computer center, with yards of computers and girls clacking away at their key-punch machines, plus an antiquated card sorter was pure nostalgia for me - I recall my grad school days at U. of Penn, dutifully going to the campus computer center to punch out those programs for loading into the big Ole computer to perform regression analyses -times sure have changed with the advent of the p.c. and now endless new gadgets.

One bad girl is a busty blonde who has ample opportunity (and equipment) to show off her figure au naturel, but instead we're treated to a sci-fi style wall screen where she monitors the action in surveillance mode.

Befitting a step-up-in-class assignment, Jose has a song sung by Sylvie Vartan which turns out to be Sonny Bono's "Baby Please Don't Go", titled "C'etait trop beau" in French. Chet Baker, who also scored his earlier Le concerto de la peur film, is back handling the moody background score. Visual quality is excellent, ranging from evocative eye closeups (on a par with Leone's Italian Westerns) to frequent Gothic shots of waves crashing against the rocks.


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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

30 March 1966 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Gymna dolomata See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Productions du Chesne See more »
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Technical Specs

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