Terminally naive and beautiful Noelle Page (Marie-France Pisier) is abused and conned by every man she meets. In 1939 Paris, penniless and at the end of her tether, she meets American pilot Larry Douglas (John Beck, looking more like a 70s porn star than a 40s air force pilot). A great romance begins, but then duty calls him away. He promises to find her again in three weeks, but he never shows up. Noelle discovers that she is pregnant, and then finds out Larry is a terminal womanizer. She aborts herself with a wire hanger, and then, feeling she has nothing left to lose, slaughters all the young Jedi… I mean, she sleeps her way to movie stardom, hooks up with a Greek tycoon, obsessively tracks Larry’s life, including his marriage to PR executive Catherine Alexander (Susan Sarandon), and plots a dastardly revenge, a reigniting of the romance, and a murder. Busy girl!
As you might have inferred from the above, Noelle’s transformation from abused and abandoned waif to Queen of Darkness is no more convincing than a recent whiny brat’s transmogrification into the Lord of the Sith. In point of fact, NOTHING in this three-hour soap opera is the least bit convincing (right down to careless framing that permits a skyscraper completed in 1972 to be visible over Nazi-occupied Paris). But then, anyone expecting great art to be made from a Sidney Sheldon novel needs to see a therapist, and quickly. What we have here is trash of the absolutely highest order, and hence the four-star rating. Excessive, grotesque and unfailingly hilarious in a way only the 70s could produce, this is the cinematic equivalent of chowing down on a huge bowl of 100% deep fried, trans-fat munchies. Terrible for you, but delicious. And who can fail to love that title. What in the name of all that is holy does it MEAN?
The choices here are mono and 2.0 stereo. There isn’t too much to choose from between them. The stereo is warmer, but has minimal separation. There is a minor surround effect, but it is indiscriminate: what emerges (faintly) from the rear speakers is identical to what’s coming from the front speakers.
A movie about rich people, and whose content is rich enough to cause indigestion, needs a rich transfer, and that’s what we have here. The credit sequences a bit shaky, plagued with grain and flicker, but otherwise the picture is very stable, with deep, strong colours and contrasts, fine blacks, and little to no grain. The image is very sharp, and the print, other than the opening, is in excellent condition.
Film historian Laurent Bouzeraeu, on the commentary tracks, presents independently recorded interviews with Sheldon, producer Frank Yablans and director Charles Jarrott. It’s all very comprehensive and bizarrely respectful of such an absurd piece of work, and when one starts hearing about the importance of character and how bad most big-budget films are today, one can only shake one’s head, then sit back and continue to enjoy the big-budget bomb of 1977. There’s also a photo gallery and the trailer, along with some puffy liner notes.
Marvellous. Simply marvellous. They don’t make rubbish like this anymore, and that’s such a pity.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Still Gallery
- Liner Notes