Friday, April 27, 2012

The Hidden Cinema of Jean Rollin: Douce pénétration (Gode Story) (1976)



After the unfortunate financial failure of Lips of Blood in 1975, Jean Rollin had no choice but to begin directing again under the pseudonym of Michel Gentil. He had previously shot two films as Gentil (Jeunes Filles Impudiques and Tout le monde il en a deux) in 1973 and 1974 but starting in '76 his main non de plume would be seen on more movie posters than the name Jean Rollin. Indeed by the end of the seventies 'Michel Gentil' would be credited as the director of almost ten films (with Rollin's other moniker Robert Xavier cited with almost another half-dozen).







Gode Story, Rollin's first adult-feature of 1976 (after the infinitely superior Phantasmes in '75) had the more extreme title of Douces pénétrations upon its initial French release. According to the IMDB it also been known as
Fransk weekend and La romancière lubrique during theatrical and home video releases.








While it proved much more financially successful than the masterful Lips of Blood, Gode Story finds Rollin essentially on autopilot as a director and it would be hard to recommend the film to anyone outside of serious fans. Clearly shot extremely quickly, and on the cheap, Gode Story finds Rollin in workmanlike mode and, save a couple of shots of the Castel Twins wandering down a lonely hallway, there is little to suggest that this is the work of one of our great masters of the Fantastique.






It is indeed the presence of the iconic Cathy and Marie-Pierre Castel that will attract most fans to Gode Story. The film would in fact, sadly, mark the final time Rollin would work with the mesmerizing Marie-Pierre (Pony) Castel, as she would retire from cinema after appearing in Francis Girod's Rene the Cane in 1977. Considering how magical the collaboration between Jean Rollin and Pony Castel had been, Gode Story is a rather sad closing-chapter. Rollin would continue working with Cathy Castel, as an actress and make-up artist, throughout the seventies in various adult projects.




Some of the cast and crew for Gode Story will be immediately recognizable to Rollin devotees. The amazing Jean-Jacques Renon photographed the film, as Oscar Lapin, and Lips of Blood composer Didier William Lepauw is credited with the score. Speaking of Lips of Blood, the intoxicating Matine Grimaud is also featured in Gode Story. Perhaps the most familiar face in Gode Story, outside of our beloved Castel Twins, will be Rollin himself, who appears as a hapless chef throughout the film.



Gode Story has a few interesting connections to two other wildly non-conforming filmmakers from the period, Jean-Francois Davy and Jess Franco. Adult actress Jocelyne Clairis had already worked numerous times with Davy before being called on by Rollin and the co-screenwriter of Gode Story, filmmaker Jean-Pierre Bouyxou (who also appears in the film) had worked on several films with Franco in the early seventies before becoming one of Rollin's most trusted collaborators in front of and behind the camera.



Like almost all of Jean Rollin's Michel Gentil films Gode Story can typically only be found via the collector's market. My copy comes from an old French VHS copy and I have no idea if the film has ever appeared on disc anywhere. Due to the Castel Twins appearance, Gode Story will be sort of a 'must-see' work for Rollin obsessives (like myself) but there finally isn't much to recommend about it. It was a film made to help the financial burden that had been placed on Rollin in the mid-seventies and, in that sense, it helped allow the string of truly great works he was able to deliver just a few years down the road.

4 comments:

Daniel Orion Davis said...

I really wish some American distributor would release some of the Gentil titles on DVD...at least this and Phantasmes. As you say, for some of us these are must-sees...so it would be nice if we cold see them in somewhat presentable formats. I have a gray-market release of Phantasmes, but the picture quality (obviously from an nth generation VHS) is essentially unwatchable.

If only we could convince th company that's been doing the Henry Paris releases to put them out. You know they'd do a great job...

Valor said...

Thanks for yet another great review Jeremy!

However, I'm a bit surprised you chose to use the silly title "Gode Story" ("gode" is short for "godemichet" = dildo ) which was made up for a budget video release.

The original theatrical title is "Douce pénétration" -singular- although the posters announced "Douces pénétrations". "La romancière lubrique" and "Introductions" were the shooting titles and "Fransk weekend" is the Swedish title.

You can have a look at some of the existing video artwork on VHSdb :

http://www.vhsdb.org/film.php?id=943

Cheers

Valor said...

Thanks for yet another great review Jeremy!

However, I'm a bit surprised you chose to use the silly title "Gode Story" ("gode" is short for "godemichet" = dildo ) which was made up for a budget video release.

The original theatrical title is "Douce pénétration" -singular- although the posters announced "Douces pénétrations". "La romancière lubrique" and "Introductions" were the shooting titles and "Fransk weekend" is the Swedish title.

You can have a look at some of the existing video artwork on VHSdb :

http://www.vhsdb.org/film.php?id=943

Cheers

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks so much Daniel. I am sorry about the delay in commenting back. It would indeed be great to see some of these released remastered on disc.

Thanks Valor! I have updated to title of the piece to reflect that. I wasn't sure where the Gode Story title played in but since my copy carried that title I went with it. Thanks for the information!