Wednesday, 27 June 2012



Strangely, it wasn't actually given an X until 1982, some thirteen years after it was made, although it did get a release as passed by various councils. I know this because it actually showed up at one of my long-demolished local cinemas in October 1972, long before it was submitted to the BBFC, as I discovered when scrolling through reels of the local press microfilm archives at my town library. (Hint: this is an endlessly fascinating way of spending an afternoon, looking at what cinemas screened before you started going: the films you've never heard of, the films you wish you'd seen at the time.) Bedford Council apparently sanctioned the screenings of this softcore romp - astonishingly tame by today's standards - and hats off to them.

From the title alone, you'd probably guess, as I did, Camille 2000 was a sexy SF exploitationer, possibly about some kind of sex droid that eventually gains sentience through meaningless humping and discovers true love. (Or maybe I'm just thinking of Galaxina.) In fact it's an adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' La Dame Aux Camellias, updated to (then) present day Rome and detailing the empty hedonism of a clique of fashionistas, models and jetset floozies: an endless cycle of yachts, parties and orgies, sex, booze and drugs, and girls don't come much more goodtime than Marguerite (Daniele Gaubert). Until country boy Armand (Nino Castelnuovo) turns up to work for his father's business empire, sees her at the ballet and falls instantly for her....

At nearly two hours it's absurdly overlong and, given that it's a Radley Metzger film, you'd probably expect a bit more in the way of thrusting sack action. Instead it's a film populated by smartly dressed but shallow and unlikeable people with an abundance of money: Marguerite herself seems to live alone in a vast villa with a bedroom housing an oval bed surrounded with floor-to-ceiling mirrors. It plods on and on with the two becoming friends, then lovers, then breaking up, then getting together again and finally breaking up again - matters aren't helped by a prison-themed orgy at which Marguerite watches Armand getting off with another woman - before the miserable conclusion that (at least as far as I can gauge from Wikipedia) at least sticks to the novel.

There's very little in the way of rompingly graphic sex scenes - it's all T+A and hardly even any pubage. Rather, much of the film feels like a vintage advert for Martini or something similarly classy with the glamorous gowns and impeccable dinner jackets, and the final section's game of high-stakes baccarat is as loaded with double meanings as any of James Bond's encounters with silky villains over the card tables. (It also helps that there's an airhead handy to have the scoring system of chemin-de-fer slowly explained to her, and thus the audience.) Certainly the film looks nice, though even that's compromised by the non-anamorphic widescreen low-def DVD (which looks to be taken from a very battered theatrical print), but dramatically it's a bit of a haul.


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