30 September 2014

Venus in Furs (1969)
86 min.
Directed by Jess Franco.
With James Darren, Maria Rohm, Barbara McNair, Klaus Kinski, Dennis Price, Margaret Lee.
It's not hard to like Jess Franco's Venus in Furs.

It's got a cool, jazzy lounge score courtesy of Manfred Mann. There's loads of chemistry between beautiful Rohm and sexy Darren. Throw in Barbara McNair to spice things up even more.

(Oh, and did we mention there's Klaus Kinski lurking about in the shadows? If that ain't enough to put you over the top, we don't know what will.)

The story, too, is interesting enough. Set in Istanbul, jazz musician Jimmy (Darren) admires lovely socialite Wanda (Rohm) from a distance.

But things sour when he sees her get beat up by a trio of rich weirdos.

Later, her lifeless body washes up near Jimmy's beachfront home.

Shocked and traumatized, he flees Istanbul and relocates to Rio. Hoping to start life over, he takes up with new girlfriend Rita (McNair), and tries to push the past from his mind.

But one day, as he's playing at a gig, in walks a dead ringer for Wanda. Or could this actually be Wanda, somehow come back from the dead?

If so, what does she want?

Venus in Furs is director Franco's answer to Hitchcock's Vertigo. Check out the similarities to Hitch's 1958 classic: when Wanda 're-emerges' at the nightclub in Rio, as well as Jimmy's search for her in a sun-drenched cemetery.

Venus' film noir-style narrative, and its crisp cinematography, perfectly complement the solid performances of Darren and Rohm. And, while the storyline isn't waterproof, it's always a heckuva lotta fun.

One of Franco's best.

Also known as Paroxismus.

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