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Saint-Tropez interdit (1985)

Decades on from the sleaze noirs that earned him the nickname the Antonio of Pigalle – and toward the tail end of the last phase of his career as the Godard of porn – José Bénazéraf finally gave us his version of a Mondo film.
Naked snake-fondling, transvestites, women crawling on all fours in cat makeup being hunted, rough lesbian sex, shop lifting, pagan rituals in cheap rubber Halloween masks, alcoholism, naked moonlight poolside fencing in black leather boots, males in thongs and more! The lid is torn off of the sunny vacation resort, revealing the veritable Sodom at its core!
Saint Tropez Interdit is oft-times hilariously bad, its supposed shocks silly, and completely weird throughout. Endless lesbian groping and a near-record amount of female nudity for a softcore film forms the backbone, the stage set by helicoptor-view travelogue shots of endless beaches. To confound matters totally, there’s voice-over diatribes from the police chief (who doesn’t mind the moral turpitude that’s swallowed the island as long as the tourists don’t get hurt) and a psychiatric doctor. There’s also the usual moralizing, spiced with an off conflation of referents (including Jung, Natural Selection, The Book of Daniel, Dionysus and Socialism).
It’s possible to imagine Bénazéraf making something dark and powerful out of this, as he’d done so before, stripping away the moral hypocrisies of a useless bourgeoisie in concert with their clothes. Instead, we get harebrained comedy and 80’s music, part of the blame at the foot of the film’s co-director, Georges Cachoux. Cachoux was a writer/producer/director with a small filmography ranging across little more than a decade, near its end here. He specialty was lame comedy, though he also directed the interesting Porno Revolution with the wonderful but little-seen Anne Libert. The onscreen credits list Bénazéraf first (“Enquéte filmé par JOSE BENAZERAF”), then Cachoux (“Réalisation technique GEORGES CACHOU”). The film was a co-production of Bénazéraf’s Thanatos (one of numerous production companies Bénazéraf ran, usually credited on his latter-day softcore films, anomalous as he was almost-entirely committed to hardcore by the 80’s) and Cachoux’s Isa Films. Among the cast of little-knowns and outright unknowns, Véronique Catanzaro turned out a modest but interesting filmography in softcore at the tail end of French Erotica’s Golden Age, working with interesting talents Pierre Unia and Jean Claude-Roy (a regular at Alpha France under the nom de porn Patrick Aubin) and returning to Saint Tropez with Max Pecas. Speaking of which, the setting not only evokes Louis de Funes and Brigitte Bardot, but was a familiar backdrop for sun and sand sex films – soft and hard alike – for decades. In that sense, Bénazéraf comes full circle from his directorial debut, the cynical and sexy Sin on the Beach. In reality, Saint Tropez Interdit is a pale shadow of what Bénazéraf was truly capable of achieving, as fabulously entertaining and odd as it nonetheless remains.

Date: December 29, 2021