My Body Burns (1973)

DVD Cover (Le Chat qui Fume)
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Evelyne Scott
Evelyne Scott
Angela Hansen
Angela Hansen
Claude Sendron
Claude Sendron
Gilda Arancio
Gilda Arancio
Alice Arno
Alice Arno
Review by Chad
Added: April 13, 2009
Prior to receiving three of his discs in the mail, Jean-Marie Pallardy is a name that I had never heard; in fact, after browsing his output on IMDb, I can't say that I've heard of anything he's done with the obvious exception of the discs that I have in hand. I will put a disclaimer on that statement by saying that I'm by no means an expert on French erotica from the seventies, so you can imagine my interest when I saw that these three discs were branded with the "Classics of French Erotica" stamp. A little-known master, perhaps? Apparently someone in marketing thought so, so I wasted little time in popping one of the discs in. That disc just so happened to be today's feature, My Body Burns, and the results... well, the synopsis first.

Based on true events that occurred in Béthune just prior to filming, the film tells the tale of a sordid love triangle involving a pair of lesbians and an older notary named Doug (Claude Sendron), who also doubles as the village pervert. As it turns out, our friend Doug prefers nightly orgies and feeling up the town's ladies to actually settling down with a woman, and his lack of a wife leads to rumors of him being a "queer" who can only be satisfied by little boys. You just have to love the small-town rumor mill, eh?

On the other side of town, we have lesbians Evelyne (Evelyne Scott) and Michelle (Angela Hansen), two ladies who are having a bit of a problem with one another. You see, Evelyne misses the touch of a man, and more importantly, she wants to experience the finer things in life: namely, money. It just so happens that our good friend Doug is loaded and in need of a wife, so the sharper readers will probably figure out that it doesn't take long before the two become an item. Of course, this leaves Michelle on the sidelines, a fact that she is none too happy about - in fact, she threatens to spread rumors and outright lies about both of them if Evelyne chooses him over her. Just to make things a little more interesting, Evelyne apparently still has feelings for her former lady-friend, so who will finally win the blonde bombshell over?

As I mentioned earlier, this film was based on true events that occurred in a small French town back in 1970. It caused the filmmakers some legal troubles as a result, and one of the ways that they attempted to help their own case was by going back and removing all references to Doug being a notary, as this was apparently one of the most damaging statements in the film. I'm not sure how often this can be blamed for questionable editing throughout the film as a whole, but I can say that one scene in particular definitely suffers from it as a line about Doug being "a queer who likes little boys" is repeated twice in a row to cover one of the statements.

There's a number of other instances of shoddy editing, but I can't say for sure how much of this was caused by the filmmakers trying to cover their asses and how much was simply caused by inefficient editing. A sex scene will be taking place between a man and a woman, the camera will zoom in, and when the angle changes again, we find that we're looking at two women getting it on. Some will say that this lends a dreamy or artistic atmosphere, but personally, I think that it was just lackluster splicing.

Based on a questionable translation of the facts of the case, it seems as though the events found in the film stay true to the rumor mill. You see, the case was based on rumors: it was never proven that this is exactly how it all went down, but "everyone knew what really happened" (sort of like the O. J. Simpson and Michael Jackson cases). That blanket knowledge is what the film is based on, and yes, it does stay true to that. I'm purposefully omitting one of the big facts of the case so as not to spoil the movie (it may be based on true events, but it's still best to be surprised if you don't know the details of what happened), and yes, even this particular moment is found in the film.

The story itself is fairly interesting, I will give it that. This is a series of events that truly deserved a movie treatment, though I do question the decision to make it a softcore film instead of a "legit" drama. My only complaint in regard to the story itself is a lack of material - the film runs for eighty minutes, but there's really only enough material for thirty or forty. The rest of the time is spent showing softcore sex and padded scenes, and though I can't complain too much about that ("Sex scenes? In a softcore movie? Gasp!"), I have to admit that this story would have been better told without it. With that said, this aspect of the film would have worked better with cleaner editing and better cinematography.

Overall, I'm leaning more towards a neutral rating than anything else. It's not a great film and it's not a horrible one either... it's just sort of there. It slows to a crawl at times, but it's surprisingly interesting at others. The sex scenes are badly-edited, but they're populated by some damned fine ladies. You could do better than this and you could also do worse, so if you're a huge fan of sexploitation drama, give it a shot - just don't make it your introduction to the genre if you don't already count yourself as a fan. 6/10.
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