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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Les Felins (aka Joy House) (1964)

A sleazy French gigolo (Alain Delon) is pursued all the way to France by a gang of thugs hired by a powerful cuckolded American to find him and kill him because of an affair with the American's wife. An offer to work as a chauffeur for a couple of strange and kinky cousins (Jane Fonda, Lola Albright) who live in a huge mansion in the countryside would seem the ideal place to hide out. But he underestimates the twisted sisters who have other ideas for him. It's hard what to make of this film. At times, it feels like a black comedy and at other times like a conventional noir-ish thriller. But even if you can see the "twist" ending that's telegraphed, it's still fun in that strange way that odd and quirky movies keep you off kilter. The young Jane Fonda is quite good here as the poor cousin treated as a servant by the rich cousin. She balances her character with the right amount of wicked and innocent yet you can see her mind go clickety click. Directed by Rene Clement (FORBIDDEN GAMES). There's a terrific jazzy underscore by Lalo Schifrin and the elegant black and white wide screen lensing is by the great Henri Decae (LE SAMOURAI). Based on the novel by Day Keene. With Sorrell Booke, Andre Oumansky and Arthur Howard.

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