Sunday, July 28, 2013

Eugenie (Jess Franco, 1970)

Just when I thought I had seen it all, along comes Maria Rohm in Eugenie...the story of her journey into perversion, Jess Franco and Harry Towers' adaptation of  Marquis de Sade's "La Philosophie dans le boudoir." Wait, you've seen Maria Rohm in plenty of Jess Franco films. What's so special about her appearance in this one? Are you ready? She doesn't wear pants. Well, that was a bit of a letdown. Whatever do you mean? Name a Jess Franco film where the Austrian actress does wear pants. No, you're not listening to me. I'm not implying that Maria Rohm doesn't wear pants when she's bathing or having sex with her stepbrother, I mean she hardly ever wears pants. And even when she does wear pants, she's not wearing pants. Okay, now that doesn't make a lick of sense. Again, you're not listening to me. There's a scene in this movie where Maria Rohm, in all her chic glory, can be seen wearing black pantyhose as if they were pants. You're joking, right? She must have at least had panties on? No, I checked. Repeatedly, in fact. And she did not have any panties on. All right, how 'bout a super-short short skirt, maybe you couldn't see it? Have you lost your mind? I mean, seriously. Do I look like the kind of person who would not notice if Maria Rohm was wearing a super-short short skirt in a Jess Franco film? So, what your saying is, Maria Rohm wears pantyhose–black pantyhose, she was wearing black pantyhose–right, black pantyhose, in the middle of the day as if they were pants? That's exactly what I'm saying. Whoa! I have to ask: How are the contents of your brain still intact after watching this righteous display? Think about it. Technically, your head should have exploded the moment you saw Maria Rohm wearing black pantyhose as if they were pants. Yet, here you are, typing words and carrying on like your usual self.
You think this is usual? Far from it. The sight of Maria Rohm's flagrant disregard for fashion orthodoxy shook me to the core. Even though quite a sizable chunk of time has passed since I watched this film, I still find myself unable to wrap my brain around her decision to openly mock society's rules and regulations that dictate proper pantyhose etiquette.
Didn't you find it strange that Maria Rohm decided to wear a crocheted poncho and a sombrero with her black pantyhose? Yes, I did find that strange. Which reminds me, are you sure the poncho wasn't a dress? You know, like a shirt-dress? Nah, I don't think it was long enough. Maybe it was supposed to be that short. After all, it was era of the non-existent hemline. Yeah, but, I could see her pussy. Sure, the nylon fabric was pressing tightly against it with the force of six tornadoes, but you could tell it [her pussy] was there. You're right, I could see her pussy, too. Well, it was worth a shot.
As you were going on about Maria Rohm's bold fashion statement, I was busy trying to figure out a way to steer this review into less perverted waters. And you know what, to quote Sulu from Star Trek, "the helm is sluggish." I know how to snap myself out of this Maria Rohm-themed pantyhose funk, mention the fact the film opens with a leggy Maria Rohm lounging in a manner that could be construed as leggy. I thought you just said you wanted to steer this review into less perverted waters? Yeah, and I said the helm was sluggish. Meaning, I've lost control of the ship. Besides, the film's opening leggy salvo features legs that are unadorned. So, yes, I'm still in pervert mode. But at least I've strayed into less nylon-obsessed territory.
Anyway, Maria Rohm plays Madame Saint Ange, a leggy aristocratic who enjoys sunbathing, toying with her guitar-playing gardener/boatman, Augustin (Anney Kaplan), diaphanous clothing, sado-masochism, and corrupting minors. Reading a book by Marquis de Sade, Madame Saint Ange envisions herself at a ritualistic murder, one that involves organ eating, in an environment that can best be described as dungeon-like. (Keep an eye out for Jess Franco as one of the creepy on-lookers.) Hosted by the ultra-suave Dolmance (Christopher Lee), the party, if you can call it that, features chanting, men in mitres, men wearing nylons over their heads ("We are Devo"), and a live reading from one the Marquis de Sade's works by none other than Christopher Lee. 
Anyone remember the Art of Noise song called "Legs"? Well, every time Maria Rohm would appear onscreen in the early going of Eugenie, I would yell out, "Legs!!!"
Speaking of Eugenie and legs, we're introduced to Eugenie (Marie Liljedahl), a thigh-licious teen who just got off the phone with Madame Saint Ange. How does Eugenie know Madame Saint Ange? I mean, except for the fact that both of them have fantastic legs, they don't seem to have much in common. Either way, they know each other, much to her mother's chagrin. Wearing a short red dress, Eugenie, after rebuffing her mother's request to tell her who she was talking on the phone with, retreats to her room to act leggy while staring at Madame Saint Ange's picture.
Just in case we had any doubts as to the validity of Eugenie's legginess, Jess Franco provides us with ample evidence when he employs a not-so subtle leg pan.
Call me paranoid, but the fact that Jess Franco regular Paul Muller plays Eugenie's father does not bode well for the naive little scamp. And wouldn't you know it, my paranoia is well-founded as we see that Paul Muller is meeting Madame Saint Ange at a swanky hotel. You don't know what they're up to. Oh, I know what they're up to. And it's not just sex; Madame Saint Ange, by the way, is wearing a brown leather skirt (with a matching vest) and black fishnet pantyhose. No, there's something sinister going on, and it probably involves the spiritual well-being of Eugenie.
What kind of parent would allow their teenage daughter to spend the weekend on a remote island that belongs to Madame Saint Ange and Mirvel (Jack Taylor), her deranged stepbrother? Well, it's obvious that Paul Muller is that kind of parent, because Augustine is currently ferrying Eugenie to the island as we speak.
I would have loved to have been there when Madame Saint Ange decided to wear black pantyhose as if they were pants, a white crocheted poncho, a sombrero, white sunglasses and a pair of jewel-encrusted pumps on the day Eugenie arrives at her not-so humble abode.
Upon further inspection, and then after another inspection, one that, if you can believe it, went farther, inspection-wise, than the previous inspection, I came to the conclusion that the iconic black pantyhose/poncho/sombrero ensemble Maria Rohm wears in Eugenie wasn't as radical as I first thought. If you look closely, you'll notice that the frayed material dangling from the front and back of her poncho does provide her cunt and anus a modicum of coverage. It's just that the outfit can turn impractical in an instant whenever a stiff breeze occurs or when the wearer engages in some impromptu arm lifting.
You know, I can see how a stiff breeze might upset the structural harmony of Maria Rohm's poncho (the island is known for its breeziness). But impromptu arm lifting? I don't see that happening often. What I mean is, the character she is playing doesn't seem like the type of person who does much arm lifting throughout the day. Oh, really? Well then, how do you suppose she goes about beating Eugenie with a leather strap? I mean, have you ever tried to beat someone with a leather strap without lifting your arms? If you haven't, I'll tell you, it's damned near impossible.
Why would anyone want to beat Eugenie with a leather strap? She's so soft, so innocent. The question you really should be asking yourself is, why wouldn't anyone want to beat Eugenie with a leather strap? I can't believe I just said that out loud. In my defense, I'm simply trying to understand the mindset of Madame Saint Ange and his Marquis de Sade worshiping stepbrother (when he's not reading aloud from the works of the Marquis de Sade, he entertains himself by opening and closing the blinds in a semi-menacing manner).
Believe or not, they haven't invited Eugenie to spend the weekend with them in order to take baths together (Marie Liljedahl's Swedish bum is so freaking ebullient in its post-bath state) or smoke Turkish cigarettes while wearing expensive frocks, they have sinister plans for Eugenie. And they can be summed up by the three words: Education. Corruption. Destruction.
Whips, chains, dandies in frilly shirts, the music of Bruno Nicolai (the music cue just before Maria Rohm gets freaky with a ball and chain was awesome), Christopher Lee in a red smoking jacket; it's quite the scene, man. And the thing is, Madame Saint Ange and Mirval have somehow convinced Eugenie that all the terrible things that have happened to her have occurred not in reality, but in a dream.
How many times can Madame Saint Ange and Mirval get away with all this before Eugenie gets wise? I don't want say, but you should expect to see Marie Lijledahl running naked across sand dunes, Lina Romay in Macumba Sexual-style, before all is said and done. I know, Marie Liljedahl ran naked across sand dunes before Lina Romay did (Lina didn't do it until the early 1980s), but I saw Lina do it first. Anyway, do you like leggy Euro-babes? What am I saying? Of course you do. Then make sure to check out Eugenie, not to be confused with Eugenie de Sade (which is just as leg-friendly), it'll blow your freaking mind.

video uploaded by Surfink1963


  1. I’ll try not to make this a novel which normally happens whenever I try and talk about this film as it’s not only my favorite Franco film tied with Lorna the Exorcist, its one of my favorite films in general, in my top 10 easily. One the best ensembles Jess ever had, certainly one of the best soundtracks and that’s saying a lot seeing as how amazing the music in some of his films are. That entire segment of Eugenie, Mirvel and St. Ange going at it on the couch while Lee and his gang of libertines creep into the room is one of the most oddly mesmerizing things Franco ever came up with on screen. Brilliant film, a legitimate masterpiece.

  2. [snurgle]

    this one just got bumped up the list.

  3. @Tom Clark: The camera angle used as Taylor and Rohm slowly approach Eugenie (their accoutrements of punishment dangling by their side) is my favourite non-pantyhose/sombrero/poncho moment.

    @ido: Bump it hard, ido. :D