Marquis de Sade's Justine (1969) Poster

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Very strange film but certainly not unwatchable
TheLittleSongbird22 March 2015
Marquis De Sade: Justine is a long way from being unwatchable as there are a number of things that are good. It is however a very strange film and not a very easy one to rate.

Starting with what is good about Marquis De Sade: Justine, coming off best is the music score which is outstanding, if on occasions overpowering, very stirring and rich in sound and it fits the film very well. The film also looks good, the sets are simply gorgeous, the plentiful costumes are certainly attractive and a lot of care was clearly put into the cinematography which is beautiful. The crowd scenes are tense and rousing and while he sometimes overdoes with the fading in and out Jesse Franco does give some of his most competent directing ever, though it does feel very different for him. While I was not very impressed with the acting generally, the charming Maria Rohm makes the most out of her brief role and Mercedes Mccambridge is an absolute hoot.

Romina Power is very wooden in the lead role on the other hand, while Klaus Kinski is criminally underused and pretty much wasted, spending his entire screen looking remote, and Jack Palance is embarrassingly over-the-top and out of place. I like Palance but not here, he's not as bad as he was in Che! and Outlaw of Gor but this is one of his worst performances. While the film is undeniably fun there are too many times where the story is episodically disjointed and lethargically paced, sometimes not as cohesive as it could be. It also feels very tame and toned down by today's standards and not sleazy or sensual enough, the story is one where those qualities are necessary and it just felt bland and agreed too correct. The ending is very heavy-handed when you can actually hear the dialogue when it's not being drowned out the stilted way it's written and uninvolved line delivery from most makes it not really worth listening to.

In conclusion, not unwatchable but very strange and not easy to make of. 5/10 Bethany Cox
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Weaker Franco
Michael_Elliott26 February 2008
Marquis de Sade's Justine (1969)

* 1/2 (out of 4)

Jess Franco's adaptation of de Sade's story features the biggest budget the director ever worked with and also has one of his most impressive casts but that doesn't mean you're going to get a good movie. Marquis de Sade (Klaus Kinski) is thrown into an asylum where he begins to have visions of two young girls as well as spirits. Justine (Romina Power) and Juliette (Maria Rohm) are sisters who get kicked out of a convent after their father is kicked out of the country. The wilder Juliette goes to work at a whore house but the innocent Justine tries to make good in the world but constantly finds herself being used and abused by various perverts and freaks. I've owned this film on DVD for probably five years but it's two-plus hour running time kept me away. Even though I've seen over ninety Franco films, the long running time scared the hell out of me and after sitting through the film I've gotta wonder in the American version, running thirty-plus minutes shorter, is any better. A lot has been written about Romina Power, Tyrone's daughter, but I've got to agree with what's usually said. She certainly didn't get any of her father's acting talent, although she did get his nose. Her acting range is never strong enough for the part but she does have a beautiful body, which is on full display here. The innocence of her character is certainly there but I believe this is due to Franco who is always able to get this out of his female characters when needed. The supporting cast is highly impressive but most give really embarrassing performances. Kinski is wasted in his mute role and Jack Palance turns in the worst performance I've seen from him. Apparently he was so drunk while making the film that when asked about it years later he had no idea he was actually in the film. Akim Tamiroff, Howard Vernon and Mercedes McCambridge also come off pretty badly. The only saving grace among the cast is Franco regular Maria Rohm but sadly her part isn't very big. The visual look of the film is very good as are all the sets and Bruno Nicolai's score is a masterpiece. Even with that said there's not enough going for this film, which runs out of steam around the thirty-minute mark. Franco would have much better luck with this theme in several future films.
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Do not waste your time with such a horrible movie!
claudio_carvalho3 July 2003
I have never heard about this movie, but the Brazilian cover of the VHS announced that the exhibition of this flick was forbidden in many countries due to the violent scenes and that it was a horror movie. I became curious and decided to watch it and what I found? A trash of the worst quality! I could never imagine such a terrible plot, with a (may I call him of this name?) horrible director and with the worst cast that you can imagine. There is no horror in the story, but only some free violence especially against Justine (Romina Power). The best quality of this actress is her partially naked beautiful body, exhibited along most part of this flick. How could Jack Palance win a Best Supporting Actor Oscar having such a movie in his filmography? Do not waste your time with such a horrible movie! My vote is three.

Title (Brazil): "Marquis de Sade: Justine"
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Spanish/Germany/Italy/Liechtenstein coproduction starred by miscast Romina Power and completely shot in Barcelona , Spain
ma-cortes5 January 2021
Cloistered at a nun convent sisters Justine : Romina Power and Florette : Maria Rohm are forced to abandon the nunnery protection . Then the brazen, flirtatious Florette follows a life of deabuchery, prostitution, robbering and murder , while the virginal, virtuous Justine wishes to remain innocent but instead slips into a life of distress , torture , whipping , bondage , branding , kidnapping , slavery , predatory lesbianism, and salaciousness . Justine attempts to mantain her virtue and her standards against lewd people , unfortunately , she is victimized by everyone she encounters . Justine's only possible hope of true love and salvation in a suave and elegant painter : Harald Leipnitz .

Freely based on Marquis Sade novel, dealing with the nubile young Justine lousily played by Romina Power , as a good-natured girl cast out of a nun orphanage who is thrust into a depraved world of abusers , crazy priests , and lascivious people . There're also some scenes dealing with Marquis de Sade : Klaus Kinski , in fact being paced by means of flashbacks when the Marquis is imprisoned during pre-French Revolution Bastille , along the way he has dreams , nightmares , vision , and a lot of images of naked women . It is a twisted tale of strange desires , betrayals , perverse pleasures , prurient men and corruption of innocence as told by the Marquis de Sade himself . And outstanding Maria Rohm as the roguish Juliette , she was a ravishing beauty married to film producer Harry Alan Towers . And Jack Palance overacting , as usual, as a supreme sadistic monk . Being a Spanish/German/Italian production , here apppears Spaniard actors as Gustavo Re , Luis Ciges , Claudia Gravi, Jose Luis Martin, Carmen De Lirio, Gerard Tichy , Italian : Sylva Koscina , Roxemary Dexter , Rosalba Neri , German : Harold Leipnitz , Klaus Kinski , Horst Frank and American : Jack Palance , Mercedes McCambridge , Akim Tamiroff , Jack Palance . Special mention for the colorful cinematography by Manuel Merino, in a luxurious copy perfectly remastered , shot on location in Park Güell, Castell de Montjuic , Palau and Park de Montjuic , Plaza de Sant Felipe Neri , Plaza del Rey , Ciutat Vella , Barcelona , Spain . Along with a potent and rousing musical score by Bruno Nicolai. The motion picture was regularly directed by the prolific Spanish filmmaker Jesús Franco .

This book by Marquis de Sade has been adapted as "Justine de Sade" 1972 by Claude Pierson with Alice Arno , Marco Perrin, Franco Fantasía . "Cruel Passion" 1977 by Chris Boger with Koo Stark and Martin Potter . And about Marquis de Sade there are some films as "Marquis" 1989 written by Roland Topor and "Quills" by Philip Kauffman with Geoffrey Rush , Joaquin Phoenix, Uma Thurman .
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Beautiful, yet uninspired sleaze.
Coventry18 October 2004
On paper, this looks like THE greatest exploitation idea ever! The vicious writings of Marquis de Sade brought to the screen by no less a person then the Godfather of sleaze: Jess Franco! And starring the fabulously outrageous Klaus Kinski as the Marquis. And there are several other aspects about this film that indicate that you're about to see a triumph in the euro-exploitation field. Like the rather big budget. Franco normally makes the most out of small budgets but here he actually had the chance to work with decent set pieces, costumes and actors. The cast is more than decent with Jack Palance, Howard Vernon (Franco regular) and the ravishing Maria Rohm and Romina Power. This latter one plays the title role and – as well as the entire film – disappoints. The movie is a series of unspectacular events and I never saw Franco this tame! Marquis de Sade: Justine is low on violence, low on nudity and extremely low surprises. Kinski is dreadfully underused and the whole thing is just too correct! Which is NOT Franco's trademark…

Of course, it's very stylish and guided by brilliant music. The sets are gorgeous and the two leading ladies remain a joy to stare (preferably when they keep their mouths shut). This certainly isn't Franco's finest film but I'll still prefer it over 99% of the amateurish crap that is brought out nowadays. Franco rules, but he had a bad day here!
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Scarecrow-8819 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Sisters raised in a convent, Justine, naive & virtuous innocent, and Juliette, wholeheartedly prepared for any wiles of carnal desire the world has to offer, are sent out after the loss of their parents and finances run out. While Juliette dives in head first without a second thought into a wicked world, embracing it to the fullest, Justine is almost like a rabbit tossed into a den of lions. Her trust in people leads to being taken advantage of, penniless, destitute, on the run for crimes she didn't commit, and facing perilous situations towards her life and virginity, seemingly always able just to escape by the skin of her teeth through fate and happenstance. Meanwhile, Juliette, commits the very atrocities Justine is accused of, and rises through society living lavishly, but never emotionally fulfilled. All the while the film returns to the Marquis De Sade(..the always powerful Klaus Kinski, showing a very tormented man seething with agony like an imprisoned zoo animal longing to escape his misfortune), behind a jail cell, alone and haunted by his muses, the very creations of Justine and Juliette as their story unfolds.

Essentially a series of (mis)adventures as Justine seeks shelter from a world that wants to devour her..nearly every possible sanctuary from harm seems to hold someone(..or multiple someones)with sinister intent. Just when you think Justine might've finally escaped the evils of the world around her, someone hostile spoils her happiness. While one is branded a thief and murderous who is not guilty of the crimes against her, the other does commits these deeds and reaps the benefits substantially..perhaps the Marquis sees the world through a different pair of eyes, as in his story those who take to committing wicked and carnal acts are rewarded while virtue and innocence leads to mistreatment and cruelty. Or, in order to survive in such a harsh and barbarous environment, one must succeed and triumph by being ever more treacherous, sadistic and savage...obviously the examples of Madame Dusbois(Mercedes McCambridge, living it up in her role as one of those devouring lions who poses a major threat to Justine, even after the poor girl helps her escape prison and a certain hanging for a list of deeds committed against mankind)and Juliette work in this line of reasoning's favor. Yet, by the end, Justine is justified for hanging tough and enduring each and every hardship faced along life's way. Juliette sees that the lifestyle she has lived leaves her an empty void yet unfilled despite being where she is, and Justine, having found love through a kind, handsome artist, has come full circle understanding the world for what it is.

I think the story of these two sisters is perfect material for a director like Jesús Franco who operates without restraint working with more of a budget. While I believe many will find the film frustrating as Franco uses zoom and often toys with focus(..although, I think it works to great advantage in the opening as we see De Sade moving throughout his jail cell while the characters of Justine and Juliette take shape in his mind while also presenting themselves "in person"), I think this is one of his best films, using the locations at his disposal to full effect, actually having the ability to establish time and place thanks to period costumes and lavish sets. I think many will find his cast rather average to hammy. I relished McCambridge and LOVED how Franco introduces her. The camera moves with her in frame as Dubois exposes the joy of being who she is..through McCambridge we can see that she basks in the lifestyle she has led up until this point, not expecting to die. I thought Dubois was one of the most entertaining characters in the film, far more lively and ferocious than Romina Power as Justine, whose performance never dramatically cuts the mustard( almost appears as if she's about to crack a smile, even as her character faces dangerous situations, remaining fresh-faced and bubbly like a school girl). Franco mentions in an interview that he wanted Rosemary Dexter(who plays Juliette's murdering cohort and lover)for the role of Justine, who could display the pleasures that were starting to form through the agonies occurring to her. I think one can see in her opening scene in the Paris brothel that this would've been more ideal casting..just the way she lies in a room presents something unique and interesting. Maria Rohm fits her seductive role as Juliette, this type of casting works because she has the type of look the character needs. I did think Romina Power had this precocious child-like spirit that Franco elicits for the character of Justine, and she certainly is a gorgeous creature, young with a "post-card" beauty which photographs well, but there's not an iota of depth. Franco admits that he often even shot Power's scenes as Justine when she had no idea they were for the movie! Fans of Jack Palance will revel in his deranged portrayal of a "minister", who operates a sect of monks who use females left behind by the world as examples of their doctrines of pleasure through pain..often almost a drunken buffoon spouting gibberish as if he were on the verge of a nervous breakdown, this might also leave some who have seen Palance elsewhere burying their heads in their laps in embarrassment. I'm not sure if this is the user comment to read because I thoroughly enjoyed the film despite it's various weaknesses. Sure, I agree that Franco doesn't tap into the beast as he could(..because it's certain that there's room for some serious exploitation and brutality that goes unfurled), but I found this film stylistically inspired, specifically his use of color, camera-work, and setting. I do wonder what the film could've been if Franco had been able to use his choice for Justine.
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Bunuel197610 October 2004
I watched this last week, my sixth Jess Franco movie. After the relative disappointment with EUGENIE DE SADE (1970), I had hoped that the next Franco would relight my initial admiration for his work. In this respect, I was not a little wary of trying JUSTINE, as its reception on the Internet since its DVD release has not been exactly positive! But since it was the only thing available at the moment… Well, I wasn't wrong about my reservations regarding this film, as I must say that I found it truly abysmal! Not so much a waste of time as a wasted opportunity: as Rod Barnett had said in the recent FEMALE VAMPIRE (1973; a film I haven't watched yet, by the way) thread, I think that Franco fails even here to bring out the full potential of the definitely intriguing plot - despite having the biggest budget of his entire career to work with!

Still, what I find most disconcerting about the film is the ongoing parade of embarrassing performances from some interesting (i.e. formerly respectable) actors: Akim Tamiroff, Mercedes McCambridge and, worst of all, Jack Palance. The other notables from the cast - Klaus Kinski, Sylva Koscina and Howard Vernon – acquit themselves far better, also because they were already practiced at this sort of thing. McCambridge's raspy voice is given a thorough work-out here, as though she were already attempting to 'find' the demon voice for THE EXORCIST (1973)! Palance, on the other hand, gives new meaning to the expression 'chewing up the scenery' - the fact that he was drunk all through the shooting of the picture could hardly bode well for some form of coherence in his performance – and, while I couldn't help (or indeed stop) laughing when he was on screen, deep down I felt really sorry for him as he clearly did not belong there!!

Despite his brief and silent appearance, Klaus Kinksi makes for an appropriately moody Marquis De Sade, who grows increasingly paranoid as the story he is writing unfolds on the screen; actually this linking sequence is quite atmospheric: one online review even compares it to the Gothic horror films of Mario Bava, and I can certainly see where he is coming from with such an argument. Maria Rohm again proves to be an asset to the film (though she isn't nearly as effective here as she was in EUGENIE…THE STORY OF HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION [1969]): a clearly intelligent woman who possesses both great charisma and genuine sex appeal. Perhaps the film's best sequence is her heartless drowning of the Rosemary Dexter character, formerly her mentor and lover (needless to say, the fact that both women go through the scene stark naked made it all the more memorable!).

As for Romina Power, this may come as a surprise to you but I didn't think she was as bad as most online reviews would have it. Of course, apart from her constant innocent demeanor, she never really captures Justine's essential personality (especially her gradual acceptance of masochism). However, you may remember that in my review of EUGENIE, I had similar reservations about Marie Liljedahl - though, to be fair to her, she certainly came off as less 'wooden'; then again, most of the performances in JUSTINE are terrible anyway, so it really doesn't matter! Perhaps, for someone like Francesco and me, we are more responsive to her 'acting' because we are used to watching her on Italian TV – whereas the rest of you will probably have to make do with this single, admittedly unimpressive performance! Still, echoing another review I read of the film, I'm not sure that Rosemary Dexter (apparently Franco's personal choice) could have done much better with the title role, though one cannot really judge her talent from the thankless role she was relegated to playing!

(Useless bit of trivia: Romina Power regularly comes to Malta on holiday – perhaps the world's largest collection of her father Tyrone's ephemera resides in our country, believe it or not! - and it is said that she often takes a villa at Naxxar to live in; Naxxar, of course, is the village in Malta where I live!)

For me, the best thing about the entire film is Bruno Nicolai's masterful score, which is perhaps wasted here! At the very least, however, one could say that JUSTINE is good to look at and that it is packed with incident, so it does not really feel slow (like EUGENIE, for instance) throughout its lengthy duration…if only what was on screen were more genuinely compelling!

As of now, I stand about 50/50 on Franco (from the very few titles that I have sampled) and, in all honesty, I'm beginning to despair of ever finding another film to equal EUGENIE or THE DIABOLICAL DOCTOR Z (1965). Still, I have high hopes for SUCCUBUS (1967) – which will be my next venture into Franco's endless canon – as well as VENUS IN FURS (1968) and LORNA THE EXORCIST (1974), though I'll only be able to watch the last two if the local censors deign to release them from their clutches!
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Juliet and Justine.
morrison-dylan-fan25 June 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Nearing the end of the ICM poll for the best films of 1969,I decided it was time to look at one of the credits from that year of auteur Uncle Jess Franco. Speaking a few years ago to fellow IMDber melvelvit-1 after seeing the operatic excess of Roger Vadim's fun Vice and Virtue,I was told the Jess had done his own version of the story. Standing out on his credits for '69,I decided it was time to at last meet Justine and Juliet.

View on the film:

Made during his Harry Alan Towers era, director Jess Franco works with his largest ever budget, (and longest run time?) to conjure up a sleazy kitsch historical Horror epic, with Uncle Jess and cinematographer Manuel Merino layering neon colours over the naked horrors inflicted on Justine. Even when working with a bigger budget, ole Uncle Jess thankfully keeps his major themes intact with Bruno Nicolai's playful Jazz score actually finding (some) sense of the epic, and Jess's unique zoom-ins marking out each humiliation Justine experiences.

Producing and writing this adaptation of Marquis de Sade's novel, the screenplay by Harry Alan Towers suffers from being thinly spread over the 2 hours, with sequences where the horror hits the heart of Justine, (such a stylish exchange of poison wine and a dead dog!) that are undermined by Justine then being lost in the wilderness,with little time given to build the relationship between Juliet and Justine. Cut-down by Uncle Jess as acting like a window dummy, Romina Power lacks the daydream daze of Jess's usual leading ladies, but makes up for it with a tempting jail bait innocence over the punishment of Justine.
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movieman_kev5 August 2005
Romina Powers spends the duration of the film like the vacant window dressing that she is as Justine, a nubile young virgin whom after being cast out of an orphanage and into a depraved cruel world, in this muddled adaption of one of Marquis de Sade's writings. It's hard to fault Jess Franco, as he's proved time and time again that he just doesn't know any better, but Klaus Kinski, Jack Palance, and Akim Tamiroff should be ashamed of themselves. Move onto 1972's "Justine de Sade" and never look back to the silly, stupid, clumsy, mess of a film lest you turn into a pillar of salt.

My Grade: D

Eye Candy: Rosemary Dexter, Claudia Gravy, Sylva Koscina, Rosalba Neri, Romina Power, and Maria Rohm show various amounts of skin

DVD Extras: 'The Perils And Pleasures Of Justine' 20 minute featurette; Poster and stills gallery; Jess Franco Biography; and French theatrical trailer (subtitled in English) Easter Egg: Highlight the symbol after Extras in the extras menu for an alternative theatrical trailer
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Reasonable Jess Franco!!!
elo-equipamentos18 April 2018
Jess Franco had finally a big budge to make this production, however he has some mishaps during the movie to takes over, like using Klaus Kinski just for a day only to save money, also he didn't wants Romina Power as Justine imposed by the producers, this way the picture has some damages, nevertheless the results are acceptable anyway, Jess Franco is a legend to me whatever he did is relevant, he is a bold filmmaker, immoral and provocative but a true genius!!


First watch: 2018 / How many: 1 / Source: DVD / Rating: 6.5
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A major disappointment. One of Franco's lamest movies.
Infofreak19 October 2003
I usually love Jess Franco movies, and the thought of him directing De Sade's infamous 'Justine' looked like it was going to be one of his most outrageous films, especially considering legendary nut job Klaus Kinski stars as the Marquis! Unfortunately this one turned out to be a major disappointment. Kinski has little more than a cameo, and the movie is surprisingly tame. It's also way too long and gets very dull in places. This was apparently the biggest budget Franco ever got to work with (a little over a million, which for him was ENORMOUS!). Whether that was the problem, or his beautiful but boring leading lady Romina Power, I don't know, but this ties with 'The Bloody Judge' as the lamest Franco movie I've ever seen. Maria Rohm (who appeared in Franco's 'Eugenie', a much better De Sade adaptation) easily outshines Power but doesn't get enough screen time. Kinski and the other guest stars didn't do much for me apart from Jack Palance who really hams it up as a perverted monk. He's fun to watch, and Franco regular (around forty movies!) Howard Vernon plays one of his colleagues. The bigger the Franco fan you are the more you will get out of 'Justine', but it's still far from his best work, and I can't say I'll be in any hurry to watch it again.
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Spoilers follow ...
parry_na4 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The opening scenes are like a parody. Klaus Kinski, imprisoned, dreams of shackled, naked girls in a flurry of out-of-focus zoom-ins courtesy of Director Jess Franco, with a thumping, grandiloquent musical score that quite defies the fact that nothing of any merit is actually happening. It is as if Bruno Nicolai's soundtrack has swept in from some spectacular epic to accompany these scenes; a towering presence Kinski undoubtedly was, but even he doesn't merit such extravagance when he is, in effect, doing nothing.

Adding the usual spice to the cast are Franco friends Maria Rohm, Howard Vernon and a seemingly inebriated Jack Palance. The performances here are larger than life, and such a style befits this a huge, expensive looking, ribald romp full of exotic characters and costumes and locations, where everyone we meet could conservatively be described as 'heightened' – except, perhaps understandably, for Romina Power (daughter of Tyrone), who gives a very grounded performance as Justine. Rather unkindly, Jess Franco has made it clear her casting was forced on him and that he would have chosen someone else. Charisma she may lack compared to the extravagance of those around her, but for the sake of contrast if nothing else, her performance just about works. "Most of the time (Power) didn't even know we were shooting," Franco is quoted as saying.

As for Kinski's appearances, they are silent and they do not integrate with anyone else. The possibilities between the eccentricities of Kinski and Franco were never fully realised, it seems to me. The closest we have come to realising the meeting of these two greats comes together in 1976's 'Jack the Ripper', but despite how enjoyable that film was, one would have hoped for a less restrained team-up.

'Justine…' film has been heavily censored for some releases, not for reasons of graphic nudity or gore (at least, I don't think so – it is very tame on that score), but probably because the 124 minute version I have seen is way, way too long to justify the character of Justine falling into one mishap after another, which is the story-line in a nutshell.

My favourite Franco take on this idea is 'Marquis de Sade's Philosophy in the Boudoir' (1970), which seems much more low-budget, but condenses the tale more successfully.
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Somewhat Entertaining, But Relatively Un-Sleazy Sleaze Film...
EVOL6669 May 2006
Jess Franco's interpretation of the Marquis de Sade's Justine, seems a bit tame for my taste. I really wasn't expecting much going into this (it IS Jess Franco, after all...) so I can't say I was that disappointed. I was expecting a pretty average sleaze film, and that's what I got...

Justine and her sister are banished from a private school when their father dies and leaves them no money for tuition. The one sister goes to a whorehouse to work, Justine decides that ain't her thing. The rest of the film is pretty much comprised of Justine being subjected to different forms of exploitation that would have been way worse than what she would have experienced in the whorehouse...

Nothing really notable about JUSTINE, other than the beautiful women that show far too little skin. Don't get me wrong - there is nudity in the film - even some brief full-frontal - but it's never long enough or in the right situation to be arousing or memorable. The acting is decent - the sets and costumes are very well done, and the story is relatively entertaining - but it tends to drag. It actually took me three viewings to watch it all the way through, because I kept falling asleep (though I partially blame that on the bourbon...). Not a horrible film, worth a look to exploit fans, just don't expect too much...6/10
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Poor Marquis Must Be Spinning in His Grave
Nodriesrespect7 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Spanish smut-meister Jess Franco was finally granted the funds by recently deceased globe-trotting film financier Harry Alan Towers to fully indulge his avowed admiration, running as an undercurrent throughout his entire freak filmography, for the literary endeavors of the unfortunate Marquis de Sade and the results should have been dirty movie devotee nirvana. So what went wrong ? Well, one aspect careening out of control was definitely the compromise that comes with any international production, the phenomenon disrespectfully if often accurately described as "Europudding" ; another reason seems more endemic to Franco and similar cinéastes whose bark is much worse than their bite, screaming at the top of their lungs how they would be able to realize their potential if only ignorant money men would wise up and bankroll their pet project. Another of the director's "what if ?" achievements, his JACK THE RIPPER (paid for by Swiss movie mogul Erwin C. Dietrich at the behest of the provenly persuasive filmmaker), was to generate a comparably underwhelming response.

Not even the best of Franco's admittedly glossy and perhaps as a result somewhat generic collaborations with Towers, an honor split down the middle between EUGENIE and VENUS IN FURS, JUSTINE on the surface probably comes about as close to the mainstream as either movie maven ever has and that's not necessarily a good thing. Framed by scenes of an incarcerated Marquis (madman Klaus Kinski putting in another strictly debt-allaying gig) furiously scribbling away while plagued by blood-soaked female phantoms emanating from his fevered mind, the film traces the road from comparative riches to rags and back again followed by sisters Justine (Romina Power) and Juliette (Maria Rohm, Mrs. Towers at the time) as their parents' self-inflicted demise when business turned sour leaves them destitute and as a direct result rather uncharitably cast out of the convent by the sisters whose piety's clearly limited to the amount of Francs pouring into their coffers. While Juliette becomes the original happy hooker and quickly gathers a small fortune through lewdness, thievery and worse, her God-fearing sibling desperately clings to her virtue with all the ensuing sad consequences readers of the novel or, more likely, viewers of any of sexploitation cinema's myriad movie renditions are familiar with.

Rather astonishingly, though a lightness of tone might conceivably have been imposed in order to reach as wide an audience such a costly endeavor (by Towers' standards anyway) would warrant to recoup its investment, Franco plays most of Justine's trials and tribulations almost strictly for laughs. This only serves to make poor Romina Power, daughter of Hollywood heartthrob Tyrone and a subsequent pop sensation with husband Al Bano in '80s Italy, look ridiculously naive to the point of certifiable brain damage, perhaps a deliberate move on the director's part as she was imposed by the producer as an eleventh hour replacement for his own choice of Rosemary Dexter, now relegated to supporting duty playing Juliette's sister in slime Claudine. An early section with debt collector Du Harpin (hammed to the hilt by legendary character actor Akim Tamiroff) comes off worst as he even sells off the girl's few garments, leaving her hanging around his boarding house dressed in nothing more than a barely buttock-covering men's shirt, a sight sure to raise some eyebrows in 18th century France ! Much better is the sequence involving the devious Marquis de Bressac (popular German actor Horst Frank, known primarily to Euro horror aficionados for appearing in Armando Crispino's underrated THE ETRUSCAN KILLS AGAIN), whose pan-sexuality is considerably more downplayed than it was in Claude Pierson's astonishing JUSTINE DE SADE a mere three years later, scheming to poison his wealthy spouse (the always welcome Sylva Koscina, once again baring almost all for her art) with or without Justine's help, threatening to let her take the fall if she refuses to comply.

Along the way, it soon becomes obvious that the "big name" actors attracted to the production because they had fallen on hard times financially - a slumming Mercedes McCambridge and Jack Palance among them - are the ones behaving most unprofessionally while it's the modest second stringers saving the day. Refuting all accusations of nepotism, ravishing Rohm acquits herself well as usual, remorselessly amoral as Juliette, and Kraut matinée idol Harald Leipnitz (who prominently figured in several of the frothy FRAU WIRTIN a/k/a SEXY SUSAN Terry Torday sex comedies) makes the most out of Justine's insipid love interest Raymond because, yes, adding insult to injury, Franco and/or Towers saw fit to tag on an illogical if allegedly crowd-pleasing true love conquers all happy ending to boot ! Talk about taking the sting out of a scorpion's tail. Even our hapless heroine's ordeal at the hands of an order of lascivious libertine monks fails to generate much in the way of shock value, shot in the foot by Palance over-acting on a level that even Dennis Hopper might have considered beyond the pale. Left to her own devices, the unseasoned Power barely seems to register anything that goes on around her. As for production values, this picture paradoxically ranks among their creators' sterling achievements, spectacularly shot by veteran DoP Manuel Merino and superbly scored by Bruno Nicolai, then at the top of his game just as he was starting to branch out from Spaghetti westerns.
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Tacky & depressing tripe
Falconeer11 August 2012
I am a fan of director Jess Franco..but I am not a fan of this really awful film adaptation of the Marquis De Sade. The large budget was wasted, and because of it, otherwise creative director Jess Franco's hands were obviously tied, making a film by other people's rules. first off, the "actress" Rowina Powers delivered the most appalling, rot-gut performance I have EVER seen in ANY film, ever. Franco said in an interview that Powers was like a piece of furniture, and was forced upon him by the film's bank-roller; the father of this bimbo. When the director hates his own main actress, you can't really expect a great product. A product that looks like a Benny Hill episode with all it's silly comedy. It does have it's moments, and some nice sets. But the ending is wretched, featuring not only a hammy, embarrassing performance by Jack Palance, who appeared drunk in every scene. but the final insult comes at the absolute castration of Sade's work. Removing the grim ending, and replacing it with a happy ending where all the "sinners" congratulate Justine for being pure and virtuous, and inform her that she is a "better person" for not giving into temptation?!? This is the exact polar opposite of Sade's philosophy. If he could see this rubbish he would surely despise it. I think the problem was that the budget was too big, and therefore the story had to be sterilized and commercialized for mainstream consumption. Again something that it's author was anything but. Even though the story takes place during Victorian times, the women all sport 60's hair and makeup, and everything is played for laughs. And Klaus Kinski would have been excellent as the Marquis, but every time he was on screen he was overpowered by the loudest, most invasive musical score you could imagine. you will want to turn down the volume on your TV when he is on screen; it is that irritating. For those interested in seeing a decent film version of "Justine," check out the 1977 adaptation. t preserves the mood and philosophy of Sade, and features appropriate sets, costumes and music. And it succeeds at being Gothic in tone, instead of candy colored fluff; it's no masterpiece, but it is compared to this mess.
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space frigidity
RResende5 June 2011
Believe it or not, i chose to see this film after i saw Malick's Tree of Life. And i did it not because i wanted something completely different, but because i i was looking for some similarly different approach to film. Make no mistakes. Malick's film changed my life, this is just deliberate and utter trash. But here and there, we have directors filming what they want, away from conventions. Both rely heavily on intuition, in Malick's case supported by a heavy baggage of study and reflexion, in Franco's case, supported only by the pure pleasure of filming, or else filming as a living attitude.

Trash films are great, because for a few moments we step outside any convention whatsoever. Sex is a given fact in most of these films, it's called exploitation, because we are supposed to be "exploring" bodies, and sex as voyeurs. I would argue that i don't know where that differs from most of our mainstream these days and for a while now, but that's a different talk. Anyway, what we do have a certain guarantee that, within the production constraints, we'll see what some guy or a reduced number of people wanted to do. That's reassuring.

Here we have probably the highest budget of any Franco film, probably that in which he was more constrained, at least in therms of casting. The result is not so visceral, not so crazily hallucinating as some bits of others films can be, but there are some rewarding features:

-self-reflective filmmaking: Kinski's character writes the story of both sisters as we go along. So we have a filmmaker making a film about a writer (an imprisoned one) who invents 2 parallel narratives about 2 helpless sisters, who are supposed to mirror 2 distinct postures: one is malicious, the other learns to take pleasure out of humiliation. Justine is the one we follow the most;

-in her path along humiliation, intrigue, and all kinds of sexual covet by all kinds of people, Justine walks around a number of sets. Some are forgettable, mere trees in incompetently filmed bushes. Some are just ordinary, some are well chosen places in Barcelona (S.Felipe Neri square is the most seductive of them), and some are Gaudí. This is interesting, because the cinematographers, maybe Franco himself, cared about these sets. Generally speaking, the photography in this film is quite good for what we are used to in these films. In Gaudí's places, there is the intention to film space (notice the highly denounced use of wide angle lenses in some places, to the point of distorting the limits and focus of the image), and, in the parks' scenes, to film the promenade along the several arches. Sex and space, that's a fun and rewarding idea. But Romina Power doesn't have a clue, and all falls to a walk in the park, utterly unrewarding in its biggest promise.

My opinion: 2/5
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Enjoyable and a rather provocative movie
lthseldy123 December 2002
This movie took place in France around the 17th century and focused on two sisters, one of them innocent and good and the other not so innocent and caniving. Their father is sent to exile and they are each left a small amount of money to take care of themselves and are asked to leave the convent in which they had lived. The bad sister tries to pursuade the other good sister to live with her in a whore house with her but the good sister would have nothing of that and she dicides to go off on her own away from her bad sister. Like an Alice in Wonderland adventure the good sister goes from place to place in search for a place to live and at each doorstep awaits unspeakable tourture and mayhem. Jack Palance plays a rather strange character as a leader of a sadistic cult that takes pleasure in watching and performing rituals of torture. His performance was short in this film and I wish that it could have been a longer role, not because he was good in it (because he lacked in character ) but because it could have made more sense with him in it. Klaus Kinski who also has a short lived role in this movie as the Marquie De Sade is exiled in prison and does nothing but sit at a table and writes the whole story about the two sisters and their adventures. His role makes no sense as he just gets tired of writing all those pages and calapses. The bad sister ends up getting hooked up with a rich Aristocrate and later finds her poor sister in a carnival in the midst of public humilitation after being branded a murderess by another person she seeked at one time in need for asylum. The bad sister listens to her poor sisters story and takes care of her in the end. There is a moral to this tale: You may endure many hardships, but in the end, you'll find the treasures you are given in the end.
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Horrible! AVOID!!!!
WritnGuy-26 December 1999
I don't know why I rented this. Probably out of pure curiosity. In any event, I rented it, and I can't believe I sat through the whole damn thing.

Justine and Juliette are two rich young girls. On the same day, their father is sent out of the country, and their mother dies. So, they must leave the school. Juliette becomes a prostitute, but Justine doesn't want to be a part of it and leaves, and thus the movie is basically about her turbulent and tumultuous life of running from the law and living the life of a poor girl on her own. Not very scary, really. In fact, the scenes where she is locked up in the sanctuary are quite bland themselves, but are the only things resembling horror. But soon she escapes there, and let me tell you, this movie drags on and on, and just when you think it's over...nope. Still going. Eventually, it ends with quite a nice ending, though, but by then, I was so lost in boredom and hate for this movie that I couldn't care. Avoid this movie at all costs. It's trashy, not scary AT ALL, and boring.
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Mr. Franco goofs again.
Flixer195729 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Derived from a novel by the Marquis De Sade, this is a prime example of Jess Franco having a chance to do something good and outrageous–and blowing it altogether.

Sisters Justine and Juliette (Romina Power, Maria Rohm) go their separate ways after the death of their parents. Juliette spends her life chasing degradation and growing rich. Justine pursues virtue only to suffer at the hands of one pervert after another including Jack Palance who gives the overacting job of his career–and for Palance that covers a lot of territory. She also crosses paths with Mercedes MacCambridge as a whore-mistress imprisoned for murder. Franco regular Howard Vernon hams it up in one scene. Akim Tamiroff, Sylvia Koscina and Rosalba Neri also co-star in this mess. Franco himself appears as an emcee in what passed for a strip joint in the 18th Century. He may be flawed as a director but here, he manages to out-act most of the cast.

Up to a point, DEADLY SANCTUARY is accurate in terms of its dim world-view. Crime DOES pay, good guys DO finish last and if the good don't die young, it's only so they can put up with a ton of crap while they're still alive. The preaching at the end, about how Juliette's life is empty but Justine will get her reward in heaven, is an unfortunate carry-over from the novel JUSTINE itself.

Good news: Klaus Kinski plays the Marquis De Sade. The bad news is that his screen time is brief. He's taken to prison in a four-minute prologue, and the rest of the movie is punctuated by shots of him scrawling with a quill pen and expounding, in badly-dubbed voice-over, on the misfortunes of virtue. His visions of bondage and torture in the prologue are the most enthralling parts of the film. Most people who had Kinski under contract as France's favorite nobleman would have written a whole film around him, turned him loose and let him do some real damage. Not ol' Jess and producer Harry Alan Towers–and some fool even misspelled Kinski's last name in the end credits.

Redeeming qualities include rousing (for Franco) crowd scenes, a violent prison break, eye-catching costumes and a great Bruno Nicolai score. However, despite outbursts of sadism and occasional shots of nipples the size of hob-nails, the main effect of this flick is to cure insomnia. And it's not even Franco's worst...
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Bad Taste Triumphant - Great Fun!
dwingrove14 October 2003
Sorry to disappoint, but Justine is by no means the welter of non-stop gore and perversion you might expect from a confluence of Franco, de Sade and producer Harry Alan Towers. Adapted from the Marquis's sublimely immoral 'moral tale,' it plays for much of its length as a bawdy 18th century romp in the style of Tom Jones. Naturally, with the added joys of cut-rate production values and dodgy acting.

We only hit familiar Franco territory when our heroine (a bland Romina Power - yes, Tyrone's daughter) is ravished by a coven of depraved monks. Cue for lots of naked Eurotrash starlets, trussed up in chains. Gee, it's good to be home!

So Justine is not quite your typical Franco production. For a start, it has something approaching a budget. That means a lot of semi-big names (most of whom have seen better days) show up as 'guest stars.' Indeed, the film is best watched as a vast costume party, whose guests have been invited to Come-As-Your-Most-Embarrassing-Moment.

Hence we get Akim Tamiroff as a drunken pimp, Mercedes McCambridge as a lesbian brigand, Sylva Koscina as a cross-dressing noblewoman and Klaus Kinski as the Marquis de Sade himself. The grand prize must go to Jack Palance as Brother Antonin, spiritual leader of the above-mentioned depraved monks. His may be the most deranged performance in the annals of screen acting.

Weighed down by the baggage of an international tax-shelter epic, Justine never comes close to the dreamlike delirium of Succubus or Virgin Among the Living Dead or any of Franco's more extreme, smaller-scale works. Still, it's a lot of fun - in its utterly reprehensible way.

Franco himself even crops up as the ringmaster of a grotesque peepshow, where Justine is forced to appear after she survives any number of Fates-Worse-Than-Death. Now that's what I call typecasting!
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An enjoyable sweeping epic. maybe
campblood135 August 2003
I went into this film expecting lots of nudity and bad acting, as it turned out I got the opposite of both. The star of the film Romina Power is wonderful as well as beautiful. Some other reviewers have said she appeared dull and uninterested, but I don't think that is the case. I think her spaced out look was a cunning ploy to take advantage of situations when needed. Of course she was a virgin and untrusting of men which also lead to her innocence.

The beautiful setting and costumes should have won the Academy Award. :) Look for Jack Palance over-acting as a sexual deviant monk, who attempts to free young Justine. Jack and his fellow monks are studying the power of PLEASURE!!! They should have shown this at the Academy Awards the year after Palance won for City Slickers, and the whole place would have fell down laughing. I liked this movie, the uncut version runs 2 hours on DVD and is well worth it. I never got bored with the film. 5/10 Average, but better than I thought it would be.
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Tame de Sade Adaption
Rapeman1314 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Here is yet another of the various exploitation flicks based on De Sade's Justine (the best of which are credited to the prolific Jess Franco). This one is an English production starring Koo Stark, onetime girlfriend of Prince Andrew.

Set sometime in 18th Century England, two sisters, 16-year-old Justine and 17-year-old Juliette, are expelled from their convent school after they are orphaned and can no longer afford the fees. Juliette comes up with the brilliant idea of going to the London whorehouse where their cousin works and learning the "tricks of the trade", regardless of the fact they are both still virgins.

At the whorehouse the older and more worldly Juliette gets on fine and embraces the brothel lifestyle while the naïve & innocent Justine can't handle it and runs away back to the convent, into Pastor John's welcoming arms. Although, after the good Pastor has had a few wines he can no longer contain his lecherous urges and attempts to rape poor, pure Justine. Luckily she escapes with her virginity intact but Pastor John ends up dead and she is now wanted for murder.

Whilst escaping through the church graveyard she encounters a gang of graverobbers who kidnap her and force her into their way of life - she becomes their bait for luring stagecoaches to a halt so the thieves can rob & murder the occupants. Meanwhile, Juliette has become concerned by the absence of her sister and sends her heroic aristocrat boyfriend, Lord Carlisle (Martin Potter of Fellini's Satyricon fame) out to search for her.

Lord Carlisle eventually catches up with the thieves as they use their ploy to rob his stagecoach and murder all the occupants, only sparing him after Justine's pleading. The two soon escape only to be hunted down by dogs and brutally slaughtered (and in Justine's case gang-raped).

Compared to De Sade's original story (and indeed even Jess Franco's adaptations) Justine is pretty tame, there's the odd splatter of blood, infrequent nudity and even some non-graphic rape & necrophilia but overall - even with those acts included - there's still not much for exploitation aficionados to get excited about. The film focuses more on Justine's plight and the eventual tarnishing of her innocence.

Strangely enough this film is included as part of Redemption's Nunsploitation box set but it's only really the first twenty to thirty minutes that are set in the convent - the rest is either in the countryside or the brothel - although, aside from the downbeat ending and Justine's surreal catholic guilt nightmare sequences, the convent scenes are the best & sleaziest parts of the film, with the usual forced lesbianism and debauched Mother Superior.
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(Un)happy dreamer named De Sade
othello-jiLOVEzi9 February 2007
Not correct to call Jesus Franco's interpretation of MARQUIS DE SADE: JUSTINE as "drama" or "horror".It is very soft kind of exploitation cinema for easy viewing in the evening.This is not bad kind of movie.Because it's unexpected version of De Sade's world.With some soft humor and romantica.No straight violence and brutality.No much nudity?Fogget it!(so many good another porno-movies at 60-70-th)!There are two alter egos of marquis personality at film.First:Klaus Kinski - suffering convict writer.Happy drunker mad poet(Jack Palance no named De Sade at the movie?-Who cares?!)- second alter ego.Feverish work of cinematographer to memory of surrealistic cinema.This is good trash-film!Don't be boring!
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Worth viewing, but it's not the film Franco intended
doktor d4 February 2003
'Marquis de Sade's 'Justine'' (1968) is easily Jess Franco's most accomplished film, esp. from a technical standpoint, backed by the biggest budget he would ever have. Rich, brilliant colors, skin aplenty, a few perversities, and strange performances from Klaus Kinski, Jack Palance and Mercedes Mccambridge make for an entertaining but relatively tame Franco outing. To boot, Jack Palance's performance ranks as possibly the most bizarre ever seen on film. The dvd includes a revealing 20-minute 'making of' documentary featuring an extensive, contemporary interview with director Franco, and he doesn't hold back. Franco states that Palance was sauced during the entire shoot, drinking red wine all day, each day, starting around 7a.m.

Kinski's role (as de Sade) was originally handed to Orson Welles, but once Welles read the script, he claimed that he simply could not play the part because it included scenes of erotica. In reality, Welles would have had to do a scene with several totally naked women, and this may have made him uncomfortable and nervous. Interestingly, the de Sade character has no lines, and Kinski's scenes are just a bunch of cutaways of him sitting/pacing in a prison cell, mentally tortured, trying to write 'Justine'.

Franco intended to create an explicitly nasty, masochistic film faithful to de Sade's writing; however, according to Franco, he was forced into a watered-down, `Snow-White-lost-in-the-woods' direction because of the producer's decision to cast Tyrone Power's daughter, Romina Power, in the title role. `She was a passenger, wandering around,' Franco scoffed. `She was like a piece of furniture. It was as if I was making Bambi 2'. The role was intended for Rosemary Dexter, who appears in the film in a lesser role.

Franco's version of 'Justine' is not as grim or as depressing as Chris Boger's 'Cruel Passion' (1977), starring Koo Stark, but it's also not as nasty or as perverse. Too bad for Franco fans. --- david ross smith
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[insert sound of cat coughing up hairball here]
zBirdman8 May 2004
In a word; terrible. The actual story "Justine" is a somewhat perverted morality tale that has a very shrewd understory; de Sade is well known in spite of his fascination with the perverse - he truly was a gifted wordsmith.

Would that the same could be said of Franco's "Justine". According to Franco on the short interview included on the DVD, Romina Power was basically forced on him to be the "star", and he does not hide his disgust at her performance in the interview. Franco didn't want her, Power didn't seem to care either way (he said she rarely even knew when the camera was rolling; basically, she'd have a hard time even playing convincing furniture) and to things even better, Romina's Mom tagged along.

If you're looking for S&M, you're not going to find it here. If you're looking for nudity, you will find it here, but you quickly won't care. If you're interested in the Marquis de Sade, you won't learn anything about him by watching this. If you're on Death Row with two hours left, then this truly is the film for you; but all others should really steer clear.

Klaus Kinski was listed as the star of the film in Europe, and yet he speaks no lines and interacts with none of the other characters in the film. The first few minutes of the film (around 10 minutes, but it seemed like 30) show Kinski as the Marquis. He appears to be swimming in a sea of writing compulsions and drifting beyond the bounds of reality, or he's simply in dire need of a strong laxative. Either way, his segments are interspersed throughout the film, and they add absolutely nothing.

Jack Palance is wildly flamboyant, but it's hard to tell what the heck is going on with him anyway. In one particularly bizarre sequence he's gliding around on some sort of a wheeled dolly like a wax statue. According to Franco, Palance was always drunk, but he was pleased with his performance as Antonin.

It's not erotic. It's not sensual. It's not alluring. My wife and I watched it anticipating something like "The Story of O", but ended up with "The Story of O No". Definitely NOT recommended.
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