Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Night of Lust - Teased but Not Satisfied

I stopped by the Red Vic during the week the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival was running to see Night of Lust (1963) directed by José Bénazéraf. I wish I would have gone to the SFIAAFF instead.

The synopsis stated The pinnacle of pornographic artistry was arguably achieved with the release of this smut noir. Though it has been banned in half the world, we have a 35mm print of the rare film to share. As the plot goes, two rival gang leaders clash over control of the Parisian drug trade leading to criminal mayhem and the excuse to showcase tits and ass. Lots of it. After the controversy following its initial release, the film was later re-cut and re-dubbed for American audiences. However, you will likely be too distracted by the stunning black and white photography and original Chet Baker’s free-jazz score to notice the plot holes and off-time lip movements.

I truly wish that I could see the original version which runs 20 minutes longer and without the dub job more appropriate from a low budget 1973 HK kung fu film. I say that not so much to see whatever erotic scenes were cut but to see what the film looked like before the hatchet job rendered it nearly unwatchable. The black and white cinematography was indeed stunning (it must have been très chic in 1962) and the Chet Baker score was evocative of Miles Davis from Elevator to the Gallows (1958). However the dubbing and incoherent plot were quite noticeable. Towards the end of the film, I kept checking my watch to countdown the minutes until I would be released by this disappointing film.


Infinitely more enjoyable than the feature were the previews that preceded Night of Lust. The trailers were provided by Carl Martin from the Film on Film Foundationand Jesse Hawthorne Ficks from Midnites for Maniacs.

The lineup of trailers include the cult classic Switchblade Sisters (also known as The Jezebels) which I would love to see on a big screen somewhere. The Cheerleaders screened at the YBCA last summer as part of their Offbeat Sports series but I missed it then.

Trailers Preceding Night of Lust
Switchblade Sisters directed by Jack Hill; (1975)
Showgirls starring Elizabeth Berkley, Kyle MacLachlan & Gina Gershon; directed by Paul Verhoeven; (1995)
The Cheerleaders; (1973)
Hot T-Shirts; (1980)
Six Pack Annie; (1975)
Frankenhooker; (1990)
The Devil's Sisters; (1966)
Lola's Mistake starring Rita Moreno; (1960)
The Singles; (1967)

Out of that line-up, I have seen Showgirls and Frankenhooker. Showgirls...well everyone has seen it. Frankenhooker was one of the first independent films I rented on VHS.

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