Friday, August 5, 2016

Rodger Vadim: Three Wives and Three Motion Pictures

French director Roger Vadim was famous not only for the motion pictures he made, but for the five women he married and the two domestic partners he also had. This is a look at three movies he made with three of his wives that had an impact on audiences around the World when they were first released.


The star of this motion picture had been married to Roger Vadim since 1952.  At the time the picture was released she was 22 years of age and had appeared in 17 motion pictures in various size roles, but never a major star either in her native France or Internationally. One of her seventeen roles was in a major Hollywood Epic with a large International cast released the same year as "And God Created Woman". It was Robert Wise's "Helen of Troy" were for the first third of the picture the actress played Andraste the handmaiden of Helen. The previous year she had appeared in the British comedy "Doctor At Sea" part of a series starring Dirk Bogarde, Earlier she had a small role in "The Act of Love" a forgotten made in France Kirk Douglas movie from 1953. All of this changed when overnight Brigitte Ann-Marie Bardot became an International star for what became a very controversial motion picture in the United States at the time.

As of this film Roger Vadim had written the screen plays for eight motion pictures and would write the screen play for this production. Vadim had acted in three other motion pictures. 1956's "Et Dieu...Crea La Femme" was his first motion picture as a director. Vadim would have a small cameo.

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Brigitte Bardot portrays an 18 year old orphan with strong sexual desires that she plans to satisfy.  A plot line that would go over in France, but not in the thought "moral values" America. Which was not just the thinking of the Midwest, or the South.

The story tells about Juliette Hardy, Bardot, and her three lovers.

The older of two brothers is Antoine Tardieu played by Christian Marquard. In 1955 the year prior to this picture being released in France. Marquard had appeared in another controversial motion picture. It was the first filmed version of "Lady Chatterley's Lover" based upon the 1928 British novel by D.H. Lawrence. The picture was filmed in France in the French language.  It would be four more years before "Lady Chatterley's Lover" was permitted in to the United States. Although just turned 11 year old Lloyd wasn't able to see "And God Created Woman". Still, at the time of the movies release, 12 year old Lloyd was able to see, and did, "Lady Chatterley's Lover".

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Antoine's younger brother Michael Tardieu was portrayed by French actor Jean-Louis Trintignant. This was the fifth film appearance by the future International star and sometime director.

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Juliette's older lover, Eric Carradine, and her first suitor was played by German actor Curd (Curt) Jurgens. Who had been acting in German cinema since 1935. In 1957 the year "And God Created Woman" premiered in the United States. Curt Jurgens appeared opposite Robert Mitchum in his first Hollywood motion picture/ The tension filled "The Enemy Below" as a German submarine commander being pursued by Mitchum's destroyer.

Normal for French, but not for the United States. Juliette loves nude sun bathing and the semi-nudity of Brigitte Bardot brought on the controversy in many countries and especially the United States.

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Here is a behind the scenes shot of Brigitte Bardot having make up being applied during a light check..

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Eric Carradine wants to build a casino in a small coastal French town, but a shipyard is in his way. He meets Juliette and starts a relationship as he awaits the eldest son of the owner Antoine Tardieu. Antoine returns home for what was supposed to be only a weekend to meet Eric, but he also resumes his affair with Juliette.

Upset over Juliette's antics with the two men. Her guardians plan to send the girl back to the orphanage. For both men's benefit Eric attempts to convince Antoine to marry the girl. Antoine laughs it off and younger brother Michael enters the picture. He has been secretly in love with Juliette and proposes marriage. Actually in love with Antoine Juliette accepts Michael's proposal. Then things start to get out of hand as Antoine is ordered to remain at home.

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The movie was a major hit in France and one of the most popular films in the UK for 1957. However, things were a little different in the United States. For one the posters advertising the picture quoted a "Life Magazine" article on Brigitte Bardot. Thereby giving the impression that Juliette Hardy was not 18 years of age, but the same age as Bardot at the time 23..

The "National Legion of Decency" aka: "The Catholic Legion of Decency" condemned Roger Vadim's film and in many cities the local Police Departments seized prints. All this did was make American audiences want to see the "And God Created Woman" rather than not going.

In his New York Times review of the motion picture. Bosley Crowther on October 22, 1957 would not recommend "And God Created Woman", but her recognized Bardot:
Bardot moves herself in a fashion that fully accentuates her charms. She is undeniably a creation of superlative craftsmanship. But that's the extent of the transcendence, for there is nothing sublime about the script of this completely single-minded little picture...We can't recommend this little item as a sample of the best in Gallic films. It is clumsily put together and rather bizarrely played. There is nothing more than sultry fervor in the performance of Mlle. Bardot.

Crowther had no idea of the sensation the film would create. The budget for filming the movie in France, dubbing it into English and promoting the picture is estimated at $300,000. The revenue from the United States showings in 1957 was $4 million dollars.

The motion picture not only made Brigitte Bardot a Worldwide star, but American journalists coined a new term to describe the actress. She was now the original "Sex Kitten". The poster below is for the re-release of the motion picture in the United States.

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In 1988 Roger Vadim remade not the movie, but the title "And God Created Woman" as Roger Ebert said in his review. The story filmed in New Mexico is about a wrongly imprisoned women played by Rebecca De Mornay. Who wants to be free and cleared of the charges against her.


In December of 1957 Roger Vadim divorced Brigitte Bardot and six months later married Annette Stroyberg. The two would have a daughter. Annette Stroyberg was a Danish actress known for her husband's 1959 motion picture "Les liaisons dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons)", but it's a picture Roger Vadim made based upon a novella by Irish author Sheridan Le Fanu that I am writing about.

When most people think of  Vampires. They usually go to a story written by the one time employee of Le Fanu at the newspaper "The Dubin Evening Mail". His name was Bram Stoker and in 1897 he published "Dracula". However, Sheridan Le Fanu's own vampire novella was published 25 years prior "Carmilla".

Le Fanu's work had been filmed since 1905 and included Carl Theodor Dreyer's 1932 vampire classic "Vampyr,  but "Carmilla" by itself had never seen life as a motion picture until "Et mourir de plaisir (Le sang et la rose)". Although it was found in the collection "In the Glass Darkly", used by Dreyer for "Vampyr".

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Beside his wife Annette as Carmilla. Roger Vadim cast American actor, producer and director Mel Ferreras the male lead Leopoldo de Karnstein.  . He had appeared in Fritz Lang's 1952 Western with Marlene Dietrich "Rancho Notorious", King Vidor's 1956's "War and Peace" and Samuel Bronson's 1964 "The Fall of the Roman Empire". The role of both Carmilla and Leopoldo's lover, Georgia Monteverdi, was portrayed by Italian actress/model Elsa Martinelli. In the United States she is known for the 1955 Kirk Douglas picture "The Indian Fighter" and 1962's "Hatari", starring John Wayne, .

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The original French film as shot by Roger Vadim runs approximately 87 minutes and begins with a doctor discussing Carmilla's strange case. This was dropped in the English language cut "Blood and Roses" and some narration is used to explain certain sequences. The English language cut, which is very good, runs approximately 74 minutes. Apparently there are DVD versions with different running times between that of the original French release and the American release by Paramount Pictures..

The reason for the Doctor in the French version, and the narrator at times in the English language cut, is because Roger Vadim uses a lot of imagery and dream sequences without dialogue. The question for the audience, is which is real, which is not, or is everything reality? This technique works very well and Vadim's use of monochrome color with suddenly sharp color against it works exceedingly well. As the scene below of Carmilla shows.

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There is a legend in the Karnstein family of a female vampire who supposedly has lived forever. Leopoldo's younger sister Carmilla looks exactly like her ancestor.

That question comes to the forefront when Leopoldo is to marry Carmilla's best friend Georgia. Vadim's use of dream sequences leaves the viewer not completely sure of his sister.

Vadim stages a grand masquerade ball to celebrate the upcoming marriage. Leopoldo appears at one point dressed as a vampire. Carmilla has chosen to wear a dress worn by the Karnstein vampire as her costume.

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While the ball is in progress there is a fireworks display. It accidentally sets off some munitions left from the second World War. As if in a dream Carmilla leaves the ball and goes to the tomb of the Karnstein vampire. It has apparently been disturbed by the munitions blowing up. Is she being possessed, or is this the vampire returning home ?

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Carmilla returns to the estate of her brother and starting the following morning is not herself as a series of vampire like killings start occurring. She also continues her affair with her brother's future wife.

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More strange events unfold and Carmilla has been roaming the estate. She returns to the area of the tomb and the damages caused by the munitions explosion. As she wonders there is another explosion and she falls forward impaling herself. Did she do this on propose?  Is the Karnstein vampire dead?

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The film ends with Georgia and Leopoldo together in happiness aboard a passenger airplane, but has the vampire found a new body in Georgia?

There is an Italian/Spanish version of "Carmilla" entitled "La cripta e l'incubo (Crypt of the Vampire) from 1963 starring Christopher Lee during his Italian movie period. In 1970 Hammer films released "The Vampire Lovers" the first of their "Karnstein Trilogy". It was followed in 1971 by "Lust for a Vampire" and "Twins of Evil". The first and third films feature Peter Cushing playing two different roles. The Hammer trilogy changes Carmilla in to Marcilla.

Roger Vadim divorced Annette Stroyberg in 1961 and French starlet Catherine Deneuve became his domestic partner from 1961 through 1964. The two had a son Christian. In 1965 Vadim married American actress Jane Fonda.


There was a very popular French comic strip by Jean-Claude Forest that was first serialized in 1962. It was about an sexy space heroine and the book version earned the title of the first adult pornographic comic book. The comic's title was that of its heroine "Barbarella".

In 1968 Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis decided to turn the comic in to a motion picture. Roger Vadim was hired as the director and the casting began for "Barbarella". De Laurentiis' first choice for "Barbarella" was Italian actress Sophia Loren. She turned the role down. Next Vadim's first wife Brigitte Bardot was approached and she turned the role down. Roger Vadim suggested his own wife Jane Fonda, but she turned the part down at first. Vadim was a comic fanatic and he convinced her to take the role.

The movie was shot in English with a star studded International cast. For some reason Italian born Anita Pallenberg's voice was dubbed by Joan Greenwood. Greenwood had appeared in Ray Harryhausen's 1961 "The Mysterious Island". Pallenberg who spoke multiple languages including English played the Great Tyrant/ Black Queen of Sogo. At the time of filming Anita Pallenberg had ended her affair with Brian Jones the "Rolling Stone's drummer and moved to guitarist Keith Richards. In 1970 she would have a brief affair with lead singer Mick Jagger.

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Playing the Winged Angel Pygar was American actor John Phillip Law. He would appear as The Red Baron in Roger Corman's 1971 movie "Von Richthofen and Brown" and played Sinbad in  Ray Harryhausen's "The Golden Voyage of Sinbad" in 1973.

Milo O'Shea an  Irish actor seen also in 1968 in Franco Zeffirelli's "Romeo and Juliet" and would be seen in 1973's "Theatre of Blood".  O'Shea portrayed the missing scientist/astronaut that Barbarella is sent on her mission by the President of Earth to rescue. The name of the character was Durand Durand. In 1978 keyboard artist Nick Rhodes formed a British New Wave Band. He dropped the letter "D" at the end of the names Durand Durand and formed his band Duran Duran> Named for O'Shea's character.

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The small part of the President of Earth was played by French actor Claude Dauphin. Seen in the United States in 1958's "The Quiet American" and 1966's "Grand Prix" and The part was originally offered to Jane Fonda's father Henry Fonda, but he turned it down.

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Italian actor Ugo Tohnazzi plays Mark Hand the Catchman. He was seen in the United States in Fedrico Fellini's 1969 "Satyricon" and both the original version of "La Cage aux Folles" in 1978 and it's 1980 sequel. Mark Hand saves Barbarella's life from two evil twin girls and wants to have sex with her. She agrees and brings out a box of pills used to have not physical contact sex on Earth. Mark Hand introduces Barbarella to the old fashion way of having sex.

British actor David Hemmings, the 1967 musical "Camelot", 1968's "The Charge of the Light Brigade", 1974's "Juggernaut" and in 2000 "Gladiator", plays Dildano. He has heard of the pill and wants to have sex by it. While everyone else wants her for the old fashion way.

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As the opening credits role we see someone inside of a space suit. Slowly Jane Fonda is revealed as Barbarella by doing a strip tease.

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The plot:

The President of Earth sends Barbarella on the rescue mission of Dr. Durand Durand. When she arrives on the 16th planet of the Tau Ceti region. What followers is basically a series of episodic adventures that come together by the end of the picture. In short this is Roger Vadim's filmed comic book.

Barbarella discovers that many of the people on the planet are pure evil and something called the Mathmos is to blame. It is controlled by the Great Tyrant. Two exceptions are Pygar the Angel and Dildano. When Barbarella meets Pygar he has been tortured by the Black Queen of Sogo and blinded. At one point in the story Barbarella is captured by the Tyrant's Concierge. Who turns out to be the missing Durand Durand having lost his original identity from the effect of the Mathmos  Durand Durand places Barbarella in a machines called an "Excessive Machine" in the English language version and a "Orgasmostron" in the French  version. However, Barbarella breaks the machine from an overload of kindness and goodness.

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Durand Durand locks both the Black Queen and Barbarella in the Chamber of Dreams as he plans to take over the city of Sogo. Dildando the leader of what little revolution there is attacks. The Great Tyrant releases the Mathmos which starts to consume the city including her Concierge. Being in the Chamber of Dreams Barbarella and the Black Queen are protected from the Mathmos by Barbarella's goodness. When they emerge Pygar flies both away. Barbarella asks him why he saved the Great Tyrant who tortured him. He replied: "An Angel has no memory".

In 1971 Roger Vadim divorced Jane Fonda. In 1975 he married Catherine Schneider and the two would have a daughter. There marriage lasted two years. In 1980 American film and television writer Ann Biderman became Vadim's second domestic partner. This lasted until ten years until 1990. That same year Roger Vadim married his last wife French actress Marie-Christine Barrault. The two were married until Roger Vadim's death on February 11, 2000 at 72.

For my reader who may be interested in Edgar Alan Poe. Roger Vadim along with fellow French director Louis Malle and Italian director Federico Fellini made "Spirits of the Dead". The first part of this trilogy is by Roger Vadim and stars both Jane and Peter Fonda. This film is part of my article about European films based upon Poe and can be read it:

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