Sunday, August 22, 2010

Claude Chabrol - Docteur Popaul AKA Dr. Popaul (1972)

Doctor Popaul doesn't trust beautiful women: he says he prefers "moral beauty". Among colleagues he makes a bet who manages to sleep with the most ugly woman during the next year - and wins. Shortly after he meets the plain Christine on vacation in Tunesia. She leaves him after their first night, but by chance they meet again in Bordeaux. He learns that her father is a wealthy doctor who's very pleased to meet him and encourages him to become his son in law. Just on the wedding Popaul meets Christine's beautiful sister, who has the bad fortune to always marry the dumbest guy around. But Popaul knows how to help her out.


Jaunty creep Jean-Paul Belmondo takes time off from leering at nurses at the clinic to seduce and marry mousy heiress Mia Farrow, who, tricked out in leg brace and buck teeth, epitomizes the good doctor's fixation on the moral beauty of fugly chicks. Enter Laura Antonelli, Farrow's va-va-voomish sis, and soon Belmondo is rethinking his philosophy, drugging his wife nightly for torrid visits while blithely devising ways to bump off Antonelli's many suitors. Paced like an overcranked Sennet one-reeler, this Claude Chabrol romp clashes fascinatingly with the director's graceful mid-period tone thrillers (Le Boucher, Wedding in Blood), packaging his career-long interest in the grotesque with the jaundiced vigor of his early days. (To say nothing of some startlingly cruel gags: Belmondo's Tunisia trip is financed with money from a shagging contest involving girls usually gallantly referred to as butterfaces.) Yet Chabrol's cynicism is continually self-policing -- while dispensing the required doses of Antonelli nudity and vulgar (and very funny) Belmondo mugging, the film pinpoints male chauvinism and human treachery with a brackish eye that often pierces through the skittery comic surface. Paul Gégauff adapted Hubert Monteilhet's novel. With Daniel Ivernel, and Daniel Lacourtois.

German subtitle:
no pass