Joie de Bardot 

If you’ve never met, let Anchor Bay and Home Vision Entertainment have the pleasure of introducing you to a sensual force of nature in your very own home with their recent releases of Brigitte Bardot films. Before devoting her life to the rights of animals, Bardot was busy bewitching the world with her own untamed lust for life, all lips, hair and ooh, la, la!

See Naughty Girl (1956) present “Brigitte,” a precocious and naive college girl who bursts onto the scene with the puissance of a lion, and the pouty mannerisms of a kitten. She’s an accident-prone innocent thrust into her father’s decadent world of the Mississippi Night Club, turning male heads all the way through with no idea of the power she possesses. You’ll find your eyes in a perpetual struggle, torn between the reading of subtitles and looking with wonder at a truly beautiful woman. And Naughty Girl fully utilizes Bardot’s dancing talents (her initial career choice), with its highly stylized, dreamy American in Paris-type dance sequences, filled with Greek nymphs and sword-wielding pirates. This girl is trouble, but with a big heart.

There’s no denying Bardot has that Lolita quality for all those Humbert Humberts out there, but there’s something for everyone in these films, because Bardot infuses every thought, word and movement with the joy of life. There’s an immediacy that follows her around like the eyes of men, as she hungrily grabs onto each moment with the unadulterated intensity of childhood.

Try Plucking the Daisy (1956) and see Bardot as Agnes Dumont, the daughter of a strict general who insists she go to the convent because of her scandalous book on life in the provinces. She never makes it to the convent, of course. Instead, she ends up falling in love, going into debt and entering an amateur striptease contest with the nom de plume “Sophia” and a delightful Italian accent. But however she decides to accentuate, Bardot enunciates carefully, like a little girl, wanting to make sure she touches all the sounds in her words, somehow making them all delicious.

Please Not Now! (1961) is a kooky adult comedy wound around the pursuit of sex, a familiar motif that runs throughout many of the early films. Watch custard pies fly into the face of jealousy, a fakir destroy gravity and a bubble-headed blond bombshell speed up the world, drop it on its head, and have it come back begging for more. Sophie, which in Greek means wisdom, is upset that her boyfriend has run off with an American heiress, so she grabs the rifle off of her modeling set, and ... Please Not Now! has A Shot in the Dark wackiness about it. It’s a lighthearted menagerie of miscommunications, quick-witted dialogue and the infamous B.B. nude dance sequence equipped with bongo players and a bath towel. The French seem to have an extraordinary talent for taking the seriousness out of betrayal and murder, but leaving in that artistic eye, creativity and cheesecake, as well as a few Baudelaire quotes.

If you don’t go for the innocent type, then try And God Created Woman (1956), the film that introduced Bardot to U.S. audiences with huge success. Juliette is an 18-year-old orphan. She’s a rude and disrespectful wild child who runs around town barefoot. Innocence has left and in its place is a fire-red dress clinging to a perfectly sculpted body that knows it’s dangerous. In this film created for her, Bardot’s movements are slow and deliberate from an experience-acquired self-awareness. But she carries an internal storm that amplifies into a savage dance that not even she can control. When she moves, Bardot’s body is constantly saying, “You can look, but you can never possess.” She creates a place where the future just gets in the way of the present, as she causes the characters around her to think and say, “That girl is made to destroy men.”

So if you’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Miss Bardot, do yourself a favor and visit a world full of tousled hair and devil-may-care. And if you have had the Bardot experience, a reunion is advised. “Look at her and love her ...”

Anchor Bay Entertainment:
Naughty Girl
(1956 — VHS Wide Screen/DVD)
Please Not Now! (1961 — VHS Wide Screen/DVD)
Come Dance With Me
(1967 — VHS Wide Screen/DVD)
Shalako
(1968 — VHS/VHS Wide Screen/DVD)
Les Femmes
(1969 — VHS/DVD)
Brigitte Bardot ... Take One
(biography) (1996 — VHS/DVD)

Home Vision Entertainment:
Plucking the Daisy
(1956 — VHS)
And God Created Woman
(1956 — VHS Wide Screen/DVD)
Une Parisienne
(1957 — VHS)
The Night Heaven Fell
(1958 — VHS)
Spirits of the Dead (1969 — VHS/DVD)

Anita Schmaltz writes about perfomances on the grand scale for the Metro Times. E-mail her at letters@metrotimes.com

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