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- Published on Amazon.com
(1969 - Italian / German co-production originally titled 'I Peccatti di Madame Bovary' - In Italian with or without English subtitles - no other language/subtitle options).
The stunning Edwige Fenech's first starring role, filmed shortly after 'Samoa' (a 1969 German jungle woman film which still hasn't seen the light of day as a dvd release) and right before Mario Bava's 'Five Dolls For An August Moon' (a vastly underrated movie, due in part that Bava fans were expecting horror, which it's not - it's more of a 'Ten Little Indians/And Then There Were None' Agatha Christie murder mystery retread, but definitely worth checking into, especially for Fenech fans and late 60's movie buffs). A costume period piece 'loosely' based on the classic Gustave Flaubert romance novel, the film itself is somewhat trite, underfunded and dull, and if not bestowing the virtues of Edwige Fenech, would be primarily without merit, for the most part. (No one save she is any kind of memorable after the end credits roll).
It's the now clichéd old story of a young, beautiful wife with too much time on her hands and her work-absorbed husband who never realizes he's neglecting her emotional and sexual needs, so she fills these voids with other suitors. "Idle hands are the Devil's playthings" and all that. In her efforts to escape her provincial roots and climb the bourgeois social ladder, she runs up huge sums of debt to her tailor, engages in dalliances with noblemen, constantly lies to her country doctor husband and never gets what she's ultimately seeking out of life (no surprise there). The price she must pay for these indiscretions is steep (again, no surprise), and boils down to another old adage, "It isn't easy being pretty, and it isn't pretty being easy". And so it goes.
The picture quality is exceptional for its age - sharp, rich colors and contrast for the most part, along with a nice, clean audio track. The subtitles suffer from a barrage of grammatical errors, typos, and spelling blunders, however, which was more than frustrating for me at times. It is presented in anamorphic widescreen with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The only extras on the dvd are a B+W photo gallery, and a selection of promo artwork, posters and vhs boxcovers from various releases.
Unfortunately, the luscious picture of Edwige Fenech on the dvd cover isn't in the film, and the exploitative elements we've come to expect from these 'erotica' releases is negligible at best. Of course, we do get a bit of nudity - thankfully, Edwige was never shy in that regard, but there's way too little of it (3-4 scenes) and it's all too brief in comparison to the copious abundance we're treated to in her 70's film output. All longtime admirers will have to check this anyway; she's still young, doe-eyed and innocent looking with a bit of baby fat in her face, and the plunging necklines on the costumes are what made us sit through many a half-assed Hammer flick back then, didn't they? When she is undraped, her conical breasts defy gravity, giving great cause to argue with Newton's silly little physics laws, and that's what most of you have signed on for, isn't it? I thought so.
While I can't honestly recommend this film on its own merits except possibly as a sleep aid, the obvious charms of its leading lady in her first starring role (which she quite capably pulls off admirably, making me wonder why she never took on more challenging acting roles later in her career) more than make up for most of the missteps that mire the movie down. But a great deal of Italian films overreaching with inadequate budgets from this era and genre are similarly challenged, so this isn't too unusual or off-putting. If you're a fan, it's a must-see, all others should approach somewhat cautiously.
A 3 star film, IMHO, with a 4th star added for its rarity and the iconic Fenech.