21 February 2008 | Nodriesrespect
Color My Cheeks Rosy Red
Following a moderately successful mainstream movie making career that includes such effective rural thrillers as L'AFFAIRE DOMINICI with the iconic Jean Gabin and L'ARDOISE with popular Italian singer Salvatore Adamo, Claude Bernard-Aubert jumped with both feet into the nascent French sex industry, going straight for hardcore as the soon to prove extremely prolific "Burd Tranbaree". One has to bear in mind that the country's government had just sanctioned public screenings of sexually explicit material. This newly liberated situation seemingly opened venues for serious directors to explore subjects hitherto deemed unsuitable or quite simply unfeasible for cinematic treatment. When authorities clamped down a couple of years later on that same - already flourishing - industry, a little too popular all of a sudden to their taste perhaps, all hopes were irrevocably dashed.
During the years 1975 and 1976 however, filmmakers were justifiably euphoric and movies like Claude Mulot's SEXE QUI PARLE, Michel Barny's MES NUITS AVEC
and Francis Leroi's PLAISIRS SOLITAIRES show the direction in which the French fornication film might have evolved without all the meddling from the powers that be. Production values reflect the care with which this whole project was put together with everyone properly and separately credited rather than all lumped together on "côté technique/artistique" title cards as they were on subsequent "Tranbaree" efforts. Claude Bollé's aesthetic camera work employs a much softer use of light than would become the genre norm and Paul Vernon composed a rich score that borrows many of the EMMANUELLE type softer stuff's maudlin motifs. Vernon's finest achievement remains his haunting theme for Tranbaree's surprisingly disturbing SOUMISSION however.
While many of Bernard-Aubert's later works are somewhat formulaic and interchangeable, LA FESSEE seems more the work of an eager young upstart rather than the staid bourgeois raconteur of off color jokes he was to grow into. Respectable Monsieur Léon, nicely portrayed by Antoine Fontaine, is an unassuming bank teller by day, lover for hire with a specialist sideline in spanking by night ! It all started when, as a young man, he caught his supposedly pure girlfriend Elisabeth (lovely Corinne Lemoine who was in other early carnal classics such as Max Pécas' lavish LUXURE and Jean Rollin's haunting PHANTASMES) giving head to gardener Richard "Allan" Lemieuvre. Chasing the other man away, he then punished his lusty lady love by soundly smacking her beautiful bottom as a prelude to their heated lovemaking. Thus discovering a passion for spanking as an expression of love and affection rather than punishment, he has since turned this revelation into a lucrative cottage industry. First to hire his services is his boss at the bank, Fred (played by aging Jacques Marbeuf, an inconspicuous bit part player turned improbable but very successful porno stud), who has trouble satisfying his wife Germaine (the incomparable Emmanuelle Parèze, the depraved countess from Tranbaree's LA RABATTEUSE) even though he has amassed a considerable collection of sex toys and pornography. Local shop keeper Huguette wants to put Léon's prowess to profitable use but not before sampling some of it for herself. This leads to an elaborate set piece, the type of which French porn would rapidly discard in view of financial restrictions, with our hero giving a lengthy discourse on the nature of spanking while surrounded by over a dozen nearly nude dancing girls headed by Martine Grimaud from Mulot's underrated SUPREMES JOUISSANCES in an otherwise empty theater auditorium, leading naturally enough to a five girls on one guy pile-up. Varied sophisticated sexual scenarios are played out to viewer satisfaction, ranging from a scorching office threesome with business woman Ellen Earl - who had played the psychiatrist in SEXE QUI PARLE - and her secretary Liliane Lemieuvre, real life wife and regular screen partner of the aforementioned Richard, to Léon's being presented as a birthday present to Colonel's daughter Marcelle (future pop star Catherine Ringer of Les Rita Mitsouko fame) as a means by her strict Pater to nip her revolutionary interests in the bud. Deserving special attention is raven-haired Marie-Christine Chireix as the meter maid Léon's employer wants to get even with for all the double parking tickets she has bestowed upon her, an exceptionally pretty actress who was rarely more than a second-stringer in movies like Mulot's SHOCKING ! and Jean Desvilles' COUPLES COMPLICES, albeit with surprising longevity, working well into the '80s. Léon finally gets his comeuppance, of sorts, as one lovely lady turns the tables on him by putting him across her knee for a few well aimed smacks across the derrière. This way, Léon learns it's as good to receive as it is to give !