And God Created Woman
Brigitte Bardot, Curd Jurgens, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Christian Marquand
Director: Roger Vadim
On the strength of this film, one might suspect director Roger Vadim was a misogynist. For one thing, the title is ominous, not celebratory - referring to the moment in Genesis when Eve is made and the original sin becomes inevitable. For another, the women in this movie are awful.
There are two frumpy matrons who do little but yell, a handful of vapid young things used to tart up the scenery and then there is Juliette Hardy, the main character, played by slinky, pouty Brigitte Bardot.
This is the film that made her - as well as several other members of the cast - and yet, half a century on, it's difficult to see what the initial fuss was about. She is unequivocally gorgeous, and the opening shot of her sunbathing nude behind a laundry line against the glittering backdrop of the Cote d'Azur has not lost its charm. But Bardot plays Juliette as an insolent brat without depth and, by end of the film, one rather wishes someone would just slap her (as it turns out - spoiler alert - someone pulls a gun on her instead).
Juliette is an orphan living in St Tropez with the Morin family. She is in love with Antoine Tardieu (Christian Marquand), whose family owns a shipyard.
Eric Carradine (Curd Jurgens, better appreciated in these parts for his turn as Mark Conrad in 1959's Ferry to Hong Kong) is a tycoon who wants to build a casino on the shipyard's land. Both men lust after Juliette, while Michel (Jean-Louis Trintignant), the quieter Tardieu brother, loves her from afar.
One day, the Morins decide to send Juliette back to the orphanage because she is insufferable and sleeps around a lot, and the only way to save her is if one of the men marries her (of course).
'Marry Juliette? Ha!' most of them say. 'You wouldn't be able to get a hat on over your cuckold horns.' So it is up to Michel to take her as his bride, thus creating a love triangle between the two brothers and Bardot's wild child.
The actress could have played Juliette as a complex, disturbed woman who muffles her demons through a sort of desperate hedonism, and a destructive dependence on men (rather as Sue Lyon took on Lolita a few years later). Instead, she never delves beyond a type that is all the more annoying now that it's had 50 years to breed.
This is also the movie that transformed St Tropez from a sunny fishing town into the ostentatious celebrity trap of today. The port where much of the film's action takes place is unrecognisable, lined with alfresco cafes, dance halls and tobacconists where dark bars and sushi palaces stand today, oozing house music and middle-aged wannabes.
One wonders whether Tropeziens thank Vadim for putting their home on the map, or loathe him for it.