Saturday, 19 June 2021

Fantomas (1964)

Fantomas, released in 1964, was the first of the three very popular French adventure/crime films about master-criminal Fantomas which were directed by André Hunebelle. Superficially they have a lot in common with the eurospy movies of the 60s and they were certainly influenced by the success of the Bond movies.

The movie begins with a daring jewel robbery in Paris, in broad daylight. The arch-fiend Fantomas has struck again. There is public outrage. What are the police doing to protect decent citizens from this brilliant but ruthless master-criminal? What is Commissioner Juve (Louis de Funès) doing to bring Fantomas to justice? The press is having a field day, particularly popular muck-raking journalist Fandor (Jean Marais). Fantomas may be a menace to law and order but he certainly helps to sell newspapers.

Fandor has come up with an ingenious theory. Fantomas does not exist. He was invented by Commissioner Juve as a means of diverting public attention away from the incompetence of the police. But Fandor will soon discover that Fantomas is very real indeed.

For Fantomas it is not enough just to commit very profitable crimes. He derives even more enjoyment from humiliating the forces of law and order and toying with his enemies. Making a fool of Commissioner Juve is almost too easy but Fandor at least presents him with a bit of a challenge.

Fantomas intends to set up both Juve and Fandor, using his abilities as a master of disguise (an aspect of his genius that is lifted directly from the original novels). There’s no great advantage to Fantomas in this - it’s motivated by pure malevolence. Fantomas also has plans for Fandor’s girlfriend Hélène (Mylène Demongeot). And again his motive is pure spitefulness.

Meanwhile Juve has come up with that he thinks is a brilliant idea. He will lay a trap for Fantomas, with a vast fortune in jewels as the bait. But trapping Fantomas is no easy matter. It would be no easy matters for a great detective, and Juve is most definitely not a great detective. He’s a bumbling ass. Perhaps Fandor will have a better chance of foiling Fantomas’s schemes.

Fantomas is the villain, and he’s a villain with no redeeming features whatsoever, but he is very much the focus of the movie. No matter how diabolical he might be we can’t help feeling that he deserves to get away with his crimes because he is clearly so much cleverer than either Fandor or Juve. Fantomas is the character we’re really interested in.

The tone of this movie is always tongue-in-cheek and often straight-out comic. Juve is a character played entirely for comedy. And it has to be said that he is genuinely very amusing.

There are some very impressive stunts and towards the end we get a terrific extended chase sequence - a chase by car, motor-cycle, train, helicopter, boat and submarine. It’s executed in a witty and very clever manner. While this movie was influenced by the first two Bond movies in some ways it anticipates the style of the 1970s Roger Moore Bond films.

The arch-criminal Fantômas, created by Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre, made his first appearance in print in 1911 in the novel Fantômas and featured in another 42 novels (the last of which was published in 1963). Fantômas made the transition to film as early as 1913. Fantômas subsequently featured in several other films such as Juve contre Fantômas (1913) and later in comics right up until the 1990s. There was a 1980 French Fantômas TV series. Fantômas occupied a place in French pop culture somewhat analogous to that of Dr Mabuse in German pop culture.

This 1964 Fantomas movie retains much of the spirit of the original Fantômas but inevitably such a movie made in 1964 was going to be heavily influence by the massive pop culture phenomenon that was the Bond movies. As a result it has a much more tongue-in-cheek flavour and it has a lot of Bond-style visual elements.

This movie also has something in common with the 1960s German Dr Mabuse movies which began with Fritz Lang’s The 1,000 Eyes of Dr Mabuse (1960) and continued with The Return of Dr Mabuse (1961), The Invisible Dr Mabuse (1962), Dr Mabuse vs Scotland Yard (1963) and Death Ray Mirror of Dr Mabuse (1964). There’s also a slight resemblance, especially in tone, between Fantomas and the wonderful Lemmy Caution movies such as Poison Ivy (1953) and Dames Don't Care (1954). And a slight affinity also to movies such as Danger: Diabolik! and Satanik.

André Hunebelle also directed quite a few of the OSS117 eurospy movies including OSS 117 Is Unleashed (1963). He certainly had an affinity for adventure movies. He does an excellent job here, pulling off some remarkably cool action sequences.

Fantomas is a total romp, much more light-hearted and whimsical in tone than the source novels. Those source novels could have been the basis for an interesting much darker film but in 1964 Hunebelle’s approach was probably, in commercial terms, the wisest one to take. And as it stands Fantomas is a movie that is, to an extraordinary degree, in tune with the 60s zeitgeist. It’s a great deal of stylish fun as well. Highly recommended.

Kino Lorber have released all three 1960s Fantomas movies is an excellent boxed set (available on both DVD and Blu-Ray editions). The 1964 Fantomas includes an excellent audio commentary by Tim Lucas. The transfer is excellent.

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion (1970)

Luciano Ercoli’s The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion, released in 1970, is a kind of giallo although it might be more accurate to describe it as a giallo-esque suspense crime thriller. It was released on DVD by Blue Underground a few years back (and happily the DVD seems to be still in print).

Minou (Dagmar Lassander) is married to an industrialist named Peter. Peter seems to be the sort of businessman who sails close to the wind financially and enjoys the risk-taking side of business. As the film opens Minou tells us in a voiceover that she intends to give up smoking, drinking and taking pills. She’s going to give them up any day now.

She is almost raped at the beginning of the movie. At least she thought she was going to be raped but her assailant (played by Simón Andreu) seemed to have something else in mind, something much more twisted. He wants to play a game with her mind. He tells her that her husband Peter is a murderer and that he has proof of this. If she fails to show up to an appointment at his apartment he will go to the police with the evidence against Peter.

Minou loves her husband and will do anything to save him. She’s also perhaps a little naïve and with all the booze and the pills she is also perhaps not always thinking too clearly.

The blackmailer intends to force her into a sexual relationship a relationship with some definite sado-masochistic overtones.

And as to the forbidden photos - they do make their appearance later on after a major plot twist.

Minou is increasingly confused and desperate. Her friend Dominique (played by Nieves Navarro although she’s billed here as Susan Scott) has a plan to get Minou out of her predicament.

It’s not too difficult to figure out where the plot is heading although there was one important point which did surprise me.

There is, surprisingly, very little graphic violence and no nudity. Of course European genre movies of this era often existed in multiple cuts. The running time on Blue Underground’s DVD release suggests that it’s uncut but with these types of films you can never be sure.

The acting seems very flat but that may be partly the very poor very lifeless English dubbing (sadly the DVD includes only the English dubbed version).

Luciano Ercoli had a brief career as a director in the early to mid 70s (and a longer career as a producer beginning in the early 60s). His output included a couple of genuine giallos. Ernesto Gastaldi, who co-wrote the script, had an extremely prolific career (spanning 40 years) as a screenwriter.

Dagmar Lassander had a busy movie career from the mid-60s to the mid-80s after which she worked mostly in television. She’s best known to cult movie fans for her rôle in Mario Bava’s Hatchet for the Honeymoon. Her performance in The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion is adequate. Spanish-born Nieves Navarro (who was married to Luciano Ercoli) gives a nicely decadent performance as Dominique. Not surprisingly she made several movies for Ercoli.

I don’t think this movie can really be described as a giallo. It lacks too many of the crucial ingredients. It has some of the visual touches that we associate with giallos but it’s rather restrained stylistically and it’s not violent enough or sexy enough to be a true giallo. It’s just a suspense movie.

Blue Underground’s DVD release offers a very nice anamorphic transfer. The only extra of note is a brief interview with co-writer Ernesto Gastaldi. Gastaldi has one very amusing anecdote about Riccardo Freda with whom he worked on The Horrible Dr Hichcock. Freda asked Gastaldi if it was OK to tear up the last ten pages of the script. Gastaldi objected that if he did this the story would make no sense. Freda replied that that was the whole point - he didn’t want the film to make any sense. I think that sums up the brilliance of Italian film-making in this era rather well.

The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion is well-crafted and looks good and unlike some giallos the plot makes perfect sense and the solution is clearly explained. It’s worth a look although this one might be one to rent rather than buy.

Saturday, 12 June 2021

Sky Raiders (movie serial, 1941)

Sky Raiders is a 1941 Universal serial and what makes it enticing is that it’s both an aviation adventure and a spy thriller - two of my favourite genres.

It might not be one of the better known serials but it combines action, romance and great aerial sequences and it’s prepared to play around with the conventions of the serial form at least to some extent. And it’s extremely entertaining.

Here’s the link to my full review at Classic Movie Ramblings.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

The Wicker Man (1973)

The Wicker Man, directed by Robin Hardy and written by Anthony Schaffer, is one of the most admired British horror movies of the 70s. In fact, it is possibly the single most admired British horror film of that decade. There are even those who claim it to be the greatest British horror film of all time, and it’s a claim that has some validity.

There are now three different versions of this film in existence. There’s the 87-minute theatrical cut, the 99-minute director’s cut and now a 94-minute “final cut” has emerged which is claimed to be the closest to the original intention of the film-maker. It doesn’t matter which version you prefer because the recent Studiocanal 2-disc Blu-Ray release includes all three cuts.

The Wicker Man was made in 1973 and then, due to problems with the distributor, it simply vanished from sight. It was pretty much unseen until the end of the 70s. When people finally did get to see it, in a very unsatisfactory form, its greatness was soon recognised and its reputation has since grown steadily as better prints became available.

Sergeant Howie of the West Highland Police (Edward Woodward) arrives by seaplane at the tiny island of Summerisle to investigate a report of a missing child, Rowan Morrison. When shown photographs of her nobody on the island will admit to having ever seen the girl.

Sergeant Howie is a devout Christian. He is a little on the priggish side but he’s sincere and well-meaning. He is shocked to discover that the inhabitants of Summerisle are pagans. There is no longer a church or a minister on the island. Christianity has been banished entirely.

Presiding over this pagan society is Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee). He’s a jovial enough fellow and much-loved but he has all the power of a mediæval lord. Summerisle is a kind of petty kingdom which recognises no authority other than Lord Summerisle.

Sergeant Howie realises that the islanders have been lying to him. They do recognise Rowan and he’s sure that they do know what happened to her. Howie isn’t certain what happened to Rowan but he is beginning to have dark suspicions that she has been murdered. His suspicions are both correct and incorrect.

Howie is determined to solve the mystery of Rowan’s disappearance but he’s not going to get any coöperation at all from the locals. In fact they will hinder his investigation at every step.

Howie simply cannot deal with this pagan society. It offends him as a Christian but his response to Summerisle is a little more complex than that. This is 1973 and Howie has obviously dealt with non-believers before. The people of Summerisle are not just touchy-feely New Age neo-pagans or hippies play-acting at paganism. They are hardcore pagans. They worship nature, which leads them to worship sex. They take their worship of sex to extremes. They are every bit as extreme in their beliefs as Sergeant Howie.

Howie is not just a Christian, he is a policeman. It’s not just the paganism of the islanders that shocks him but also their obvious contempt for the police and for any authority other than Lord Summerisle.

Howie may be bigoted in the sense that he will not and cannot accept the very different religious beliefs of the islanders but they’re just as bigoted against his Christian beliefs. This is a clash of cultures in which neither side is capable of understanding the other and neither side is willing to respect the beliefs of the other side. There is intolerance on both sides.

That’s what makes this film so interesting. Depending on your own point of view you may be inclined to sympathise with either the Christian Sergeant Howie or the pagan islanders but whichever side you sympathise with your sympathies and prejudices will be challenged. Howie might be wrong to reject the islanders’ beliefs out of hand but he’s not wrong about everything. He might be right to reject the extreme beliefs of the islanders but he’s not right about everything either.

This rôle was tailor-made for Edward Woodward. He was always extremely good at playing characters who were much too tightly-wrapped, with their emotions much too tightly suppressed. He could not only do this, he could do it with a certain amount of subtlety and could give you the impression that the character was suffering from a great deal of inner turmoil. He could also give the impression that if such a person started to unravel he’d probably do so in a big way. And somehow he could make an audience care about such a character. The Callan TV series gave him a great opportunity to play such a character. Sergeant Howie is a very different man from tortured professional killer David Callan but both men are emotionally repressed and have difficulty in relating to others, not because they don’t want to but because they’re simply not able to.

Christopher Lee apparently considered this to be the best movie he ever made. He certainly makes the most of his rôle. Lord Summerisle, like Howie, is right about some things and wrong about others. He’s neither a simplistic villain nor a simplistic hero.

Britt Ekland is excellent as the innkeeper’s sexy daughter who tempts Sergeant Howie. Is she a free spirit trying to liberate Howie or is she a cruel temptress who enjoys torturing him by flaunting her sexuality at him?

There’s an impressive supporting cast including Diane Cilento, Aubrey Morris, Ingrid Pitt and Lindsay Kemp (who taught David Bowie mime).

Since this movie deals with a society that takes the worship of sex to an extreme there is of course a certain amount of nudity and sex but it’s absolutely integral to the theme of the movie and cannot in any way be considered gratuitous.

Britt Ekland’s ambiguous nude dance of seduction is certainly memorable.

The film was shot on location in Scotland and looks stunning. The music is excellent. There are a lot of old Scottish folk songs but the lyrics have been altered to give them a more overtly pagan feel. The music plays a major rôle is establishing the atmosphere.

This is a very literate horror film. There’s no overt horror until the end but the atmosphere, which starts out colourful and liberated, slowly and inexorably grows more sinister. The ending is a horror tour-de-force.

The Wicker Man is a provocative horror but it’s more than just a horror movie. It’s thematically complex and intelligent. It deals with belief and it deals with other important themes (although to reveal the most important theme of the movie would be to reveal a major spoiler). Anthony Schaffer’s script is brilliant and it’s only at the end that you realise just how brilliant it is as everything comes together perfectly and with a sense of inevitability and you finally realise what the story is really about.

It has to be said that there are problems with the Final Cut - it’s missing some very important early scenes which are important not only for what they tell us about Howie’s character but they’re also vital thematically. Those scenes are included in the Director’s Cut. The Final Cut looks terrific but the Director’s Cut has to be the preferred version.

The Blu-Ray presentation includes a host of extras including an audio commentary (for the Director’s Cut) featuring Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee and director Robin Hardy.

Very highly recommended.

Friday, 4 June 2021

Eyewitness (AKA Sudden Terror, 1970)

Eyewitness (released in the US as Sudden Terror) is a modestly budgeted British thriller released in 1970.

Ziggy (Mark Lester) is a young boy, probably about eleven, and he lives in a fantasy world. He is constantly making up elaborate stories which he swears are true but of course they aren’t. In other words he’s basically a perfectly normal boy although he’s gifted with a lot of imagination and an unusual facility for telling the most outrageous lies.

Ziggy lives with his big sister Pippa (Susan George) and their grandfather (played by Lionel Jeffries) in a lighthouse on Malta.

Then comes the day when Ziggy’s wild stories catch up with him. A visiting African president is assassinated. Ziggy is an eyewitness to the assassination and the assassins know that he saw them and now they’re after him. He tells all this to Pippa but of course she doesn’t believe a word of it. What makes Ziggy’s story harder to believe is that he insists (quite correctly) that the assassins are policemen.

While watching the visiting president’s motorcade Pippa strikes up an acquaintanceship with a young man named Tom Jones (played by Australian actor Tony Bonner). Or rather he strikes up an acquaintanceship with her. The fact that Pippa is drop-dead gorgeous may well be the reason he was so anxious to get to know her.

The bad guys really are out to kill Ziggy and the difficulty of persuading anyone to believe him is just the beginning of young Ziggy’s troubles. It’s also just the beginning of the nightmare for his grandfather, his sister and Tom. Tom gets mixed up in all this because after driving Pippa home he finds the whole island is under curfew so Ziggy’s grandfather decides that they’ll have to put Tom up for the night.

It’s going to be quite a night. With an extraordinary amount of mayhem and quite a high bodycount as the two murderous cops kill anyone who gets in their way including innocent bystanders. The violence isn’t especially graphic but it’s the casualness with which the bad guys kill people that makes this quite a brutal film. There’s also a notable car chase.

This was director John Hough’s feature film debut. Prior to this he’d worked in television, directing a number of episodes of the final season of The Avengers (the Tara King season). He followed up Eyewitness with the notorious 1971 Hammer film Twins of Evil and the absolutely superb 1973 horror film The Legend of Hell House. With Eyewitness Hough proves himself to be an inspired action movie director.

He has a fine cast to work with. Having recently starred in Oliver! Mark Lester was at this time the biggest child star in Britain and he gives a fine performance as the mischievous but likeable Ziggy. Susan George was on the cusp of stardom. She’s a very underrated actress and she’s terrific and very believable as Pippa, who dearly loves Ziggy although there are times when she could cheerfully strangle him. Lionel Jeffries is excellent as the grandfather and provides a few lighter moments in an otherwise rather grim and brutal film. Tony Bonner is fine as the good-natured Tom. Jeremy Kemp is great as the police chief, a man who is dedicated to the point of fanaticism.

It’s the two villains who really shine, especially Peter Vaughan as the chief bad guy. It’s a bit weird seeing Peter Bowles as a murderous heavy although at this time he dd play the occasional darker rôle, notably in A Magnum for Schneider (the pilot for the superb Callan TV spy series).

The film was shot on location in Malta. This provides an interesting and exotic setting and it has the advantage that Malta is an island - once the authorities have sealed off all sea and air exits both the hunters (the assassins) and the hunted (Ziggy) are trapped together on the island. The location shooting really is splendid. The fact that Ziggy and his family live in a lighthouse is just one more cool touch.

On the audio commentary Hough claims (and having watched the movie I’m inclined to believe him) that there’s not a single process shot in the movie - all the car chase scenes were done for real, filmed as they happened. This gives the action scenes an extraordinary intensity and immediacy.

In fact everything in this visually astonishingly bold film has a sense of urgency and palpable menace.

Kino Lorber have outdone themselves with their DVD release (and they’ve issued this one on Blu-Ray as well). The anamorphic transfer is excellent the extras include two audio commentaries, the first featuring John Hough and Bryan Forbes (who wrote the final version of the screenplay and as head of production of Elstree Studios was the man who gave the movie the green light), the second featuring a couple of film historians.

While the plot might not be dazzlingly original it’s the execution that makes Eyewitness a very much above average action thriller. It really is a well-crafted piece of film-making and it’s very highly recommended.

Saturday, 29 May 2021

Kuroneko (Black Cat, 1968)

Kuroneko (or Black Cat) is a 1968 Japanese ghost movie written and directed by Kaneto Shindô and made by the Toho studio.

Japan is being torn apart by war. Yone (whose son was taken away by the army to fight in the endless wars) and her daughter-in-law Oshige live alone in their humble house near a bamboo grove. One day a group of samurai arrive. They loot the house and rape and murder the two women. Nothing is left alive, except for two black cats.

Three years later a samurai encounters a young woman on a lonely road at night. She tells him she is afraid to walk though the bamboo grove alone. If only the brave and noble samurai would escort her home? When they arrive at her home she invites him in. She and her mother live alone in the house. The two women ply the samurai with sake. The samurai thinks he’s going to get a roll in the hay with the daughter. In fact he gets his throat torn out (there’s more than a hint of vampirism here).

The sequence in the bamboo grove is clever. We naturally think it’s the young woman who is likely to be in great danger. But in fact she is the hunter, not the hunted.

This samurai will not be the last to meet this grisly fate. The so-called Rajo Gate Ghost will claim many victims. The mother and daughter who were murdered are of course now ghosts, or more specifically they’re cat-spirits. Any samurai passing near the Rojo Gate will get seduced and slain by them.

So this is very much a revenge movie, among many other things.

The local warlord, Raiko, is at his wits’ end. It’s bad enough to lose so many samurai but he is also under pressure from imperial officials to put an end to the Rajo Gate Ghost. Perhaps his bravest samurai, Yabu-no-Gintoki, will be the man to do this.

The twist is that Gintoki is Yone’s son, now returned from the wars and now a samurai.

Gintoki does not know if his mother and wife were killed or simply fled into the mountains. All he knows is that his home is now a charred ruin.

Gintoki encounters Oshige on the road and escorts her home. He doesn’t get his throat ripped out. He is recognised by the women. He notices immediately that they look just like his mother and wife but he does not know whether they are alive, or spirits who have taken the form of Yone and Oshige, or ghosts.

Gintoki will be torn between his duty as a samurai (to kill the ghost or in this case ghosts), his duty to his mother and his love for his wife. Yone and Oshige will be torn between their affection for Gintoki and the vow they made to the dark gods to kill every samurai they encounter.

It’s important to remember that the Japanese (and the Chinese) have a very different concept of ghosts compared to western folklore. These are very corporeal ghosts. And they can (and do) have sex.

There’s emotional drama but, as in so many Japanese films of this era there’s also a strong political subtext involving the contempt of the samurai for the common people and the cruelty and violence of the samurai. There’s also a pretty obvious message about the miseries and brutality of war. Unlike a lot of other Japanese movies this one doesn’t get too heavy-handed with the politics.

This is a very stately film, clearly drawing heavily on the traditions of the Noh and Kabuki theatre. In fact it has a very stagey feel. There’s an air of theatrical unreality to everything, with the opening sequence being the only minor concession to any kind of realist aesthetic. The theatricality emphasises the supernatural aspects.

The action scenes all involve the women flying through the air (obviously suspended by wires). Even the scenes of action and violence are therefore determinedly artificial.

The film was shot in black-and-white in Tohoscope (2.35:1).

This is not a movie that you want to try to over-analyse. What you see is what you get. The political subtext is trite. The symbolism is obvious. There’s some obvious half-baked Freudianism. There is some emotional resonance to the relationship between Gintoki and his now ghostly wife. It’s the theatricality that is by far the most interesting and successful thing about Kuroneko. That’s the main reason to see the film. Apart from that it’s a reasonably decent ghost movie and it’s recommended for its visual interest.

The Eureka UK release includes the movie on both Blu-Ray and DVD. The only extra is a 32-page booklet which includes an extraordinarily uninteresting interview with the director.

Thursday, 27 May 2021

How I Got My Mink (1969)

The San Francisco Sex Collection from Retro Seduction Cinema comprises three Nick Millard movies from the late 60s. I reviewed the quite interesting Oddo (1967) a while back but it’s the third movie in the set that we’re concerned with at the moment, How I Got My Mink (1969).

Nick Millard (who often worked under the same Nick Phillips as well as various other pseudonyms) was the son of S.S. Millard (popularly known as Steamship Millard) who was one of the Forty Thieves - the legendary band of exploitation movie producers and distributors of the classic exploitation movie era (from the 1930s to the 1950s).

How I Got My Mink follows the adventures of a brother and sister who decide to make an underground movie. They don’t want to accept any help from their rich father. They just want to do their own thing, man.

There are lots of sexploitation movies about the making of sexploitation movies but a sexploitation movie about the making of an underground movie is a bit different. And what Donna and her brother Philip are making is definitely an underground movie. Although at times (as in the case of some of Millard’s own movies) the dividing line between underground film-making and sexploitation could be a bit blurry.

The movie that the brother and sister is making consists of lots of sex and lots of man-in-the-street interviews that get pretty weird. The interview with the expert in bio-sexual physics for instance. He wants to sterilise everybody and have all reproduction done by cloning.

The movie-within-a-movie is the whole of the plot which means that there pretty much isn’t a plot. Which is part of the fun of 1960s sexploitation. There’s no real plot but while there’s an enormous amount of nudity (very graphic nudity) and sex it’s not just endless sex scenes. There’s plenty of weirdness in between the sex scenes.

The acting is more or less non-existent. None of the players has any notion of what acting is. But then Millard was going for a kind of cinéma vérité feel so it doesn’t really matter.

In fact he’s going for a bit of a Nouvelle Vague feel. Imagine early Godard but with lots of nudity and sex. Millard definitely belonged to the 1960s/70s school that believed that sex could be combined with artiness and an avant-garde sensibility.

There is some character development. Donna and Philip are rebelling against their rich Establishment father. They’re looking for some kind of meaning in life. Philip descends further and further into complete self-absorption. Donna was hoping to find the joy and beauty in life but all she finds is despair and craziness, but she eventually finds an answer of sorts (and we find out where the title of the movie comes from). 

Maybe there isn’t any meaning to life, but a mink coat is real.

Millard’s movies were very low-budget, usually (as in this case) without synchronised sound. There is some dialogue in some scenes in this movie but even then the dialogue isn’t synched properly. Which may well be deliberate, or it might not be, but it adds to the strangeness.

The transfer isn’t great but I suspect that this has more to do with the source material than the transfer. This is such a low budget movie that it probably never looked much better than this. The extras include trailers for other weird and wonderful Nick Millard films plus some reasonably worthwhile liner notes.

How I Got My Mink
doesn’t have the bleakness and despair of other Millard movies. There is emptiness and despair but to the extent that there’s a message it’s that giving in to despair doesn’t help. Donna ends up accepting life for what it is and what it can offer her.

Nick Millard made a lot of very low budget movies, a surprising number of which have survived and are available on DVD. These include Pleasures of a Woman (1972), the rather bleak Lustful Addiction (1969) and the positively harrowing Roxanna (1970).

Nick Millard hasn’t achieved the cult status that other sexploitation movie-makers like Joe Sarno and Radley Metzger have slowly gained which is perhaps a pity. He had his own unique, if strange, vision. How I Got My Mink is recommended to fans of the weirder and more avant-garde end of the sexploitation spectrum.