Diary of a Nymphomaniac AKA Le Journal intime D’une Nymphomane (1973)

Linda Vargas picks up Ortiz in a bar where she works in a lesbian show with Maria Toledano. She seduces him, phones the police and kills herself. Ortiz is held on suspicion of her murder. Ortiz’s wife, Rosa, visits a friend of Linda’s, the Countess Anna de Monterey who tells her how Linda went into a spiral of sex and drugs after being assaulted by Ortiz as a young girl at a fair-ground. Linda became the Countess’s lover, then had a disastrous love affair with Alberto, the Countess’ boyfriend. Rosa also meets Maria, who holds Linda’s diary, where she relates how a fake Doctor turned her away from drugs and into a nymphomaniac.

A naive country girl is consumed by her sexual desires that where inflamed after a sexual assault shortly after her arrival in the big city. After a series of failed relationships including the betrayal of a doctor who was trying help cure her of nymphomania. She fails deeper into a state of depression brought on by excessive drug use. Feeling hopelessly alone she concocts a plan that with end her misery and exact revenge against the man who originally violated her the day she arrived in the big city.

It is safe to say that with a filmography with two hundred plus films and at least 1/3 of them have been released on DVD that Jess Franco is the most represented film director in the DVD medium. Out of the nearly seventy films of Jess Franco’s released on DVD there is a good cross section of his work including most of his best films and several of his lesser works. Outside of a handful of prominent titles like Lorna the Exorcist, Gemidos de placer and Diary of a Nymphomaniac most of Franco’s undeniable classics have been released on DVD. Some of Franco’s most sought after films yet to be released were produced by Robert de Nesle. So far only Nightmares Come at Night, A Virgin among the Living Dead and Blue Rita have been released on DVD while these titles Robinson and His Tempestuous Slaves, Lorna, the Exorcist, Plaisir à trois, Les Emmerdeuses, Les Chatouilleuses and Diary of a Nymphomaniac remain in limbo.

Sinner like so many Franco films features a nightclub scene. The film opens with a night club scene that is reminiscent to the one from Vampiros Lesbos with the way it uses reds and the way the two women performers’ interact. The plot for Sinner revolves around a young girl from the country named Linda Vargas who innocence is shattered by the perversity she encounters shortly after her arrival in the big bad city. The plot is told via a flashback by those who came in contact with Linda. The first half is told from the point of view of a character named Countess Anna de Monterey. While the second half of the film is told via Linda’s own personal dairy that is being read by one of her former lovers. Overall Sinner’s plot is one the Franco’s most coherent and reality based out of all of his erotica films. The story is fascinating from start to finish. There is no fat that needs to be trimmed her as there is never a dull moment.

The cast for Sinner is exceptional and it features many Franco regulars like Howard Vernon, Montserrat Prous and Anne Libert. Howard Vernon steals every scene he is in despite only having a secondary role. Vernon plays a doctor who tries to cure Linda’s sexual appetite. Howard Vernon doesn’t look like any doctor that I have ever seen. He wears white pastel suits and sunglasses making him look like a detective straight out of Miami Vice. In the lead role of Linda is an actress named Montserrat Prous who worked with Jess Franco a half dozen times. Montserrat Prous’s solid performance is what totally sells this film. Through her performance she actually makes Linda a character who one can sympathize with despite her lack of morals. Montserrat Prous is one of the more beautiful women to ever work with Jess Franco and it is a shame that she is not held in as higher regard among Francophiles. Another standout role is Anne Libert as Countess Anna de Monterey. Most Franco fans while recognize Anne Libert from films The Demons, The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein, Dracula Prisoner of Frankenstein, Dracula’s Daughter, A Virgin Among the Living Dead and Devil’s Island Lovers. My favorite moment with Anne Libert is her first scene where she is sitting in a law chair on the patio in the sun with oval shaped sunglasses on.

Visually Jess Franco is in top form and one of his more prominent techniques zooming is mysteriously missing in this film. Franco even has a brief appearance as a detective in Sinner. 1973 would prove to be one of Jess Franco’s most prolific years as a director. The identity of Linda’s killer may not be a secret since it is revealed early on. What makes Sinner so enjoyable is the journey of why Linda died and not who killed her. The plot while focusing mostly on Linda as a nymphomaniac is actually a revenge film in disguise. Even in Linda’s fragile state of mind she still has the fortitude to devise a devious and poetic revenge against the person who helped shape the sinner she became. The film features a progressive rock sounding score that also features more rhythmic and percussive musical motifs. The films of Jess Franco are most known for their Jazz infused musical scores and I liked how Franco embraced a more Rock oriented score for Sinner.

Ultimately Sinner is a De Sade like morality tale about loss of innocence and the aftermath that follows.