...And God Created Woman

...And God Created Woman ★★★

"Antoine, check out that girl—her ass is a song."

Following his underwhelming entry in the otherwise impressive Spirits of the Dead, I cannot faithfully say it's been a conscious goal of mine to see a Roger Vadim feature. Nevertheless, we were still rather enervated from our Solaris experience, and my better half expressed a desire for something light. For trash-hounds like us, I figured it couldn't get much lighter than a key offering from a debauched, wife-collecting purveyor of pseudo-erotica like Vadim, plus ...And God Created Woman (Et Dieu... créa la femme) allowed me to test—and finally debunk—my theory that Jean-Louis Trintignant only appears in excellent films (aka the French Cazale Syndrome).

The scenario from Vadim and producer Raoul Lévy is set in Saint-Tropez and depicts the general state of carnal fervor roused by the presence therein of feral siren Juliette (Brigitte Bardot). The young bombshell is first seen sunbathing among the clotheslines au naturel like a Mel Ramos model on a huge block of Velveeta. Prospective casino magnate Eric Carradine (Curd Jürgens—who cuckoo informs me appears in a quasi-significant role only in exchange for Columbia footing the bill for Eastman Color and CinemaScope) apparently wants to net the wild teen for a trophy wife but devotes more time to uprooting the Tardieu clan from their local shipyard, as they represent the final holdouts impeding his new venture.

As it happens they impede far more than that. Quietly adored by sensitive younger Tardieu brother Michel (Trintignant), Juliette is devoted to callous older Tardieu brother Antoine (Christian Marquand) who is soon to leave town for work. When Juliette's prudish guardians threaten to send her to an orphanage, Carradine aims to at least keep her in the vicinity by proposing that Antoine marry her. Though the unfeeling Antoine scoffs at such a suggestion, Michel is eager to take one for the team, even on Carradine's stark terms: "We'd need a man to sacrifice his freedom so she could keep hers."

The marriage goes surprisingly well until Antoine returns to manage Carradine's shipyard. For reasons that are not entirely clear everyone continues to live under one roof, and the unabated sexual tension between Juliette and Antoine finally culminates in a convoluted beachside tryst. Afterward, the womanizing Antoine swears her off for a second time and even tries to confine the devastated Michel in a locked room like a sailor being tied to a mast—advising him to simply forget the "bitch whore".

Meanwhile the highly disoriented Juliette heads to a local bar for a dissociative spell of frenzied dancing. A concerned friend summons Carradine to the bar, but his efforts to dislodge the barefoot beauty from the dance floor come to nothing. A similarly tipped Michel arrives at the bar hot, bothered and armed. When his entreaties also fall on deaf ears, he attempts to murder Juliette but is averted by Carradine—whereupon Michel reconsiders his insane course of action and simply slaps her repeatedly. It is then insinuated that this nearly deadly outburst has ameliorated their marital difficulties.

Obviously the messaging is beyond retrograde but Bardot is irresistible, and it's not hard to see how the film launched her as a sex icon. As for Vadim, my thoughts remain relatively unchanged and can be aptly summarized with this brief passage from Ephraim Katz's indispensable Film Encyclopedia: "Sexual relations have been a recurrent theme in his films, the plots of which have often revolved around the unclad beauty of his succession of wives—Bardot, Annette Stroyberg, Jane Fonda—and mistresses."

Some stray notes:
-WITH THAT MOUTH YOU CAN HAVE ANYTHING YOU WANT
-YOU WERE WATCHING TOO—YOU DIRTY OLD MAN!
-ALL THE FUTURE DOES IS SPOIL THE PRESENT
-NEVER WITH A VACUUM CLEANER
-SHAMELESS, IMPOLITE AND ALSO LAZY
-AT NIGHT WE'RE NEVER BORED
-I FORBID YOU TO LAUGH
-WILL YOU GET UP—YOU WET SLOB?
-THERE'S A BAR WHERE THE WHORES GO; YOU CAN FIND HER THERE
-THAT GIRL IS MADE TO DESTROY MEN

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