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The Libertine (1969) – DVD Review

libertine dvd cover


Written by: Nicolò Ferrari & Ottavio Jemma
Directed by: Pasquale Festa Campanile
Starring: Catherine Spaak, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Luigi Proietti, Luigi Pistilli, Renzo Montagnani


  • Theatrical trailer
  • Outtakes
  • Photo & poster gallery
  • Vintage trailer gallery: contains trailers for The Nude Set, Daniella by Night, The Frightened Woman, Vibration and Girls Who Like Girls
  • Liner notes which discuss the contribution of Audubon Films to erotic cinema

Released by: First Run Features
Region: 1
Rating: X
Anamorphic: No

My Advice: Avoid It.

[ad#longpost]Mimi (Spaak) has just lost her husband. As part of settling his affairs, she comes across information about an apartment that nobody seemed to be aware of except for said spouse. Checking it out, Mimi discovers it’s a love den–a place her husband went to try out every thing that amounted to perversion in the 60s. Heartbroken that he decided to do this without at least giving her a go first, she resolves to awaken as a sexual being and use the apartment to the same ends while trying to figure out just who she is in the process.

Spaak plays the burgeoning sex kitten well enough, and co-headliner Trintignant has an interesting enough role as the doctor who interests her, but for the most part there’s not much for the cast to do. For all the hubbub this film caused, Spaak spends most of her time removing clothing or having clothing removed and then covering herself. And for its being touted as a sex comedy, very little of what happens is actually humorous. Mimi’s fantasy about her tennis instructor (Philippe Leroy) suddenly being dressed as a barbarian, bounding over the net and whipping her–now that’s funny. But so much else appears to be quite serious. The doctor’s humbling of Mimi is one example. And a nameless stranger taking Mimi back to the apartment and making her submit forcefully (albeit consensually) lacks humor.

Apparently this film was banned in the United States upon its release. It’s hard to say why, exactly: whether it was that era’s ideas of perversity or just the idea that a woman would want to explore them solo. It’s hard to say why also because an almost obligatory essay or interview that would have put the film into its proper historical perspective is notably absent. Instead there’s a set of “liner notes” that explain the history of Audubon Films (the original company that released the film). Also, there’s no perspective that explains what was so shocking and disturbing about Spaak getting off on riding men. No, I mean really riding them. No, I’m talking literally here. That’s part of the problem too, is that without any perspective, a film designed to titillate merely perplexes.

libertine spaak

As for what else the disc offers in the way of features, it does have some random outtakes from the film which are of questionable value. A photo and poster gallery contains fourteen images and the trailer gallery is the best item available. It’s almost worth the price of admission simply for the historical value of seeing erotic film trailers from “back in the day.” Amusing to no end.

It’s a shame that for a film that apparently has a bit of a reputation, there wasn’t more to the presentation. As it stands, it’s simply dated and released for historical purposes only. Fans of the genre of vintage erotica will want to check it out, but everyone else should spare themselves the effort.

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