Saturday, 22 May 2021

Emanuelle and Francoise (1975)

Joe D’Amato’s Emanuelle and Francoise (AKA Emanuelle’s Revenge) came out in 1975 and it has no connection with the Emmanuelle movies. But I guess that in 1975 (the year after Emmanuelle smashed box-office records) having that name in the title was a pretty shrewd commercial move.

Emanuelle (Rosemarie Lindt) and Francoise (Patrizia Gori) are sisters. At the beginning of the film Francoise throws herself under a train. There’s no question that it was suicide. The police inspector in charge of the case gives Emanuelle a letter that Francoise wrote shortly before her death. The letter recounts all the horrible things that Francoise’s boyfriend Carlo (George Eastman) did to her. As Emanuelle reads the letter we get flashbacks showing us just how badly Carlo really did treat her. The police inspector (who of course has had to read the letter as well) expresses the view that Carlo is the sort of man who doesn’t deserve to live. Emanuelle agrees wholeheartedly. In fact she intends to make him pay, in spectacular fashion.

Carlo is a would-be actor and a spectacularly unsuccessful gambler. When he can’t pay his gambling debts he usually offers his creditors the use of Francoise’s body in payment. Francoise puts up with all this because she’s in love with him.

The first thing Emanuelle has to do is to find Carlo.

Then she has to get to know him. She has plans for him.

Her plans involve chaining him up in a secret room in her house and then subjecting him to a variety of psychological tortures. She wants him to suffer in exactly the way Francoise suffered - she wants to humiliate him rather than simply to kill him. Whether she intends eventually to kill him is uncertain. Perhaps she doesn’t know herself.

Her plan succeeds, after a fashion, but has unexpected consequences.

Her plan also involves Carlo’s new girlfriend Mira. Emanuelle doesn’t hate Mira but she intends to use her as a weapon.

George Eastman (who was born Luigi Montefiori) is wonderfully sleazy as the despicable Carlo and he has the sexy bad boy vibe that makes it convincing that the naïve Francoise would have fallen for him. When he was given the script he hated the ending and insisted on rewriting it and his ending is certainly much more effective than the original version would have been.

Rosemarie Lindt is good as the vengeful Emanuelle - she’s clearly obsessed to the point of madness and while Carlo deserves everything she dishes out to him you can’t help feeling that she’s relishing the cruelty even more than Carlo enjoyed his mistreatment of Francoise. Patrizia Gori is also good as Francoise who really is a victim waiting to happen.

The plot was lifted from an earlier Greek exploitation flick, The Wild Pussycat.

There’s plenty of sleaze and sadism. Since this is an Italian film there’s also a fair amount of style. The secret mirrored room is a very nice touch. It allows Emanuelle to put on little shows for Carlo’s benefit. Although perhaps benefit is not quite the right word. Emanuelle has quite an imagination.

Her scheme also involves drugging Carlo. The initially drugging sequence is wonderfully disorienting. The later drug sequences are outrageously over-the-top. The banquet scene is bizarre and perhaps a bit overdone. It tries to be surreal but doesn’t quite come off - it’s a bit silly really.

Severin’s release (they’ve released it on Blu-Ray as well) offers a good anamorphic transfer and interviews with George Eastman (who obviously has mixed feelings about the movie) and Maria Rosaria Riuzzi (who plays a small rôle in the film) as well as some entirely pointless semi-hardcore scenes from the German version.

Emanuelle and Francoise was apparently at one stage labelled as a “video nasty” in Britain but apart from the cannibalistic banquet scene (which is silly rather than horrifying and is obviously a drug dream) it’s a bit hard to see why.

Emanuelle and Francoise is not a giallo but has some vague affinities with that genre. Mostly it’s a reasonably effective psycho-sexual psychological revenge thriller with a lot of nudity and sex. Recommended.

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