Lady Libertine (1984)

Well made, but rather dull late night cable softcore from Harry Alan Towers. The Private Screening Collection - R0 US DVD release.

The Film

In the heyday of the softcore cable era, it was British exploitation producer Harry Alan Towers, best known for his cinema works of the 1960s, who brought a touch of culture to the table with a collection of European themed erotica, designed for late night television viewing.

When wealthy Charles Beaumont rescues a young boy named Frank and offers him some hospitality, he little realises that he will soon learn that Frank is indeed Frances, and the two fall deeply in love as Charles learns the dark secrets of Frances' past and the reason he found her as she was. Harry Alan Towers provides the script, using his Peter Welbeck pseudonym (although in the French print he is amusingly credited as Pierre Welbeck), and it is loosely based on a Frank and I, a popular erotic novel of the Victorian era. Towers is highly regarded for his adaptations of de Sade, and Frank and I does contain a detail of sadean themes - unfortunately, this is never properly exploited in Lady Libertine's often ponderous script. The film's main problem comes with the eternal conflict of all softcore erotica - the balance between storyline and sex - and in this cast the storyline is nothing more than a trashy romance that does little to keep a viewer interested, certainly not one merely looking to enjoy some nudity - while the nude scenes themselves do often come across as gratuitous, although do improve towards the end.

Fortunately the 'trash' is very impressively directed, with some good use of camera angles and editing, indeed it even comes off as rather too well shot in many cases - the sex scenes in particular are shot in a very subtle cinematic style, far from the exploitation pornography that most of the film's late night, young male viewers would have been hoping for (the sex scene on top of a collection of musical manuscripts has to rank as he most culture sex scene ever filmed!). The well composed orchestral soundtrack and the very impressive Victorian settings help to add to the wonderfully cultured tone to the whole production. Christopher Pearson as Charles plays the role very well, but surprisingly this film is listed as his only known screen credit. A very young looking Jennifer Inch looks decent as Frank/Frances, although is most unconvincing as a boy.

Beautifully made, but often rather dull, Lady Libertine will probably disappoint horndogs and fans of more hardcore pornography, however it does make a nice nostagic viewing, and should prove of interest to those who enjoy watching more 'adult' films, without the lewdness of most modern productions. Partly recommended.

In brief:

Anyone famous in it? No-one of note.
Directed by anyone interesting? Gérard Kikoïne - a little known French director who a variety of softcore films in the 1980s, and is best known for the twisted Jekyll/Hyde adaptation Edge of Sanity (1989)
Who else was involved?Harry Alan Towers - the British exploitation producer who also produced Black Venus (1983)
Any gore/violence? Some mild whipping.
Any sex? A variety of softcore female nude scenes, some sexual whipping, and various sex scenes.
Who is it for?
Fans of cultured erotica might enjoy this, although far from the best of the genre.
Good soundtrack?A nicely written orchestral score that fits the film well.


Visuals Original Aspect Ratio  - 1.33:1 fullscreen (filmed for television, so this is the correct ratio). Colour.
Shot on 35mm film, the print quality is decent with some noticable print damage, but only mild layer of film grain.
Audio English mono. Sounds fine.
Subtitles None.
Extras None.
      Region Region 0 (ALL) - NTSC
      Other regions? No other releases.
      Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut. French language print.



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      All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 2nd November 2006.
      Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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