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Eclipse Series 9 - The Delirious Fictions of William Klein

 

Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo? (1966) ... aka Who Are You, Polly Magoo?


Mr. Freedom (1969)            Le Couple témoin (1977) ... aka The Model Couple

 

William Klein's explosive New York street photography made him one of the most heralded artists of the sixties. An American expatriate in Paris, Klein has also been making challenging cinema for more than forty years, yet with the exception of his acclaimed documentary Muhammad Ali, the Greatest, his film work is barely known in the United States. In his three fiction features—Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?, Mr. Freedom, and The Model Couple—he skewers the fashion industry, American imperialism, and governmental mind control with hilarious, cutting aplomb. Today Klein's politically galvanizing social critiques seem even more acute than the works of the more famous New Wavers. These are colorful, surreal antidotes to all forms of social oppression.

 


Titles

 

 


 

Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?
William Klein, 1966
The feature debut from US expatriate Klein, it's a natural extension of his fashion photographer roots, and in today's era of super-model madness, POLLY is a glorious fart into the face of this media idiocy. Klein deposits us into the world of French high fashion at its most absurd, beginning with a runway show inside a screwed-up, FLINTSTONES-like cave-creation. The models all wear aluminum sheets, bent and bolted to their bodies, while the snooty audience proclaims it "magnifique." Who cares if the models are actually getting sliced up by the sharp edges of their "clothes"? With reality sticking close to Klein's fiction, real-life model Dorothy McGowan stars as movie-model Polly Maggoo -- a woman so alluring that strangers accost her on the street, asking her to be their fiancee, or run in front of speeding cars (thud!) in order to follow her. It's Maggoo-mania, with Jean Rochefort playing a TV journalist covering Polly's unprecedented fame with a vapid profile (which has the same title as this movie).

Excerpt from Shock Cinema located HERE
 

Mr. Freedom
William Klein, 1969
William Klein moved into more blatantly political territory with this hilarious, angry Vietnam-era spoof of imperialist American foreign policy. Mr. Freedom (John Abbey), a bellowing good-ol'-boy superhero, decked out in copious football padding, jets off to France to cut off a Commie invasion from Switzerland. A destructive, arrogant patriot in tight pants, Freedom joins forces with Marie Madeleine (a satirically sexy Delphine Seyrig) to combat lefty freethinkers, as well as the insidious evildoers Moujik Man and inflatable Red China Man, culminating in a star-spangled showdown of kitschy excess. Delightfully crass, Mr. Freedom is a trenchant, rib-tickling takedown of gaudy modern Americana.

The Model Couple
William Klein, 1977
In 1977 France, the Ministry of the Future chooses two "normal," white, middle-class citizens, Claudine (Anémone) and Jean-Michel (André Dussolier), for a national experiment. They will be monitored and displayed for six months in a model apartment outfitted with state-of-the-art products and nonstop surveillance—the template for "a new city for the new man." A searing satire of the breakdown of individual freedoms in the face of increasing governmental control, William Klein's The Model Couple deftly investigates the fine line between democracy and totalitarianism.

Theatrical Releases: 1966 - 1977

  DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Eclipse Series 9 from the Criterion Collection (3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

 

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution Eclipse / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC
Bitrates: Respective bitrates - 8.15. 7.93, 8.68 mb/s
Time: Respectively - 1:41:27, 1:31:42, and 1:41:00
Bitrate:

Who Are You Polly Magoo?

Bitrate:

Mr. Freedom

Bitrate:

The Model Couple

Audio French/English (mono) 
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Eclipse / Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - 1.66

 

Edition Details:

  •  one page (for each film) of liner notes in the transparent case


DVD Release Date: May 20th, 2008

3 Slim Transparent Keep Cases inside a Slipcase cardboard box (see image above)
Chapters: 16, 14, 18

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The 3 features of this boxset are housed in individual slim transparent keep cases (see image above) and they are not sold separately at this time. These particular editions can only be obtained in Criterion's Eclipse Series Nine - The Delirious Fictions of William Klein package at present.

All three DVDs are dual-layered, progressive and, are all anamorphic in their original 1.66:1 aspect ratio. They are coded for region 1 in the NTSC standard. The mono audio is French (or English for Mr. Freedom) and their are optional English subtitles (see samples below) for all three (even though they are not listed on the menu for Mr. Freedom - they exist). Only the Eclipse logo precedes the films.

Being of such an Indie-regard (lack of major studio involvement) these films were naturally shot with a strong degree of production pragmatism so we were never expecting pristinely sharp visuals. I suspect the Criterion transfers faithfully represent the, often worn and dated, source material. So although they are not 'crisp' (and may never have been so), they are certainly watchable.

 

The transfers are fairly consistent and I don't have much more to say than simply looking at the screen captures below. I noted an instance of chroma on Polly Magoo but it certainly wasn't something that was overly present. Colors are not vibrant in Mr. Freedom or The Model Couple, but don't appear fatally faded either. They are listed on Imdb as being done on 35mm, but can look as frugal as 16mm at times. The concept of these film was social and political satire so a certain amount of leeway can be given for their technical simplicity. The Model Couple, the youngest film, may look the worst of the three but it's message might still be as prevalent and impacting today as 30 years ago.

Bitrates are very strong in-and-around the 8.0's further suggesting that Criterion have been diligent in the source material transference.

Aside from one page liner notes for each film (visible on the inner case sleeve through the transparent case cover) there are no supplements. This is consistent from Eclipse who offer bare bones of 'lost, forgotten, or overshadowed classics in simple, affordable editions.' 

The films themselves are so very unique - you wonder how in the word they ever got made in the first place. I was always interested to see some of the 'cool' French crowd involved (like  Serge Gainsbourg, Jean Rochefort, and Philippe Noiret). The three films may seem a bit dated but, personally, I love having stuff this unusual in my collection. It evolves to a certain 'kitsch' value, and forgotten about for a number of years, I can see this Eclipse boxset encouraging a revival of sorts - certainly exposing to people who have never seen, or been aware of their existence, before. I'm one of those - I didn't know much about Klein at all until I watched these and did some research (reading the liner notes). His 'cultural critic' status may seem more obvious (compared to say a Godard, or Buñuel) but I don't find it any less biting... or humorous. The first two films especially are a fascinating step back in time to a distancing niche of political observance that doesn't seem to be around much anymore. I enjoyed it for what it's worth but I can see it not being everyone's cup-of-tea. I'm very glad I saw it and thank Criterion for giving these films some digital prominence in their Eclipse label. Really, a stupendous choice considering their mission statement. Many people will eat this stuff right up. 

Gary W. Tooze



DVD Menus



Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Screen Captures

 

Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo? (1966)  ... aka Who Are You, Polly Magoo?

Directed by William Klein

Starring  Dorothy McGowan, Jean Rochefort, Sami Frey, Grayson Hall, and Philippe Noiret
 
Subtitle Sample
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Screen Captures

 

Mr. Freedom (1969)


Directed by William Klein


Starring Delphine Seyrig, John Abbey, Donald Pleasence, Jean-Claude Drouot and Serge Gainsbourg

 

Subtitle Sample

 

 

 

 

 

 


Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Screen Captures

 

Le Couple témoin (1977) ... aka The Model Couple


Directed by William Klein


Starring André Dussollier, Anémone, Zouc , Eddie Constantine and Georges Descrières

 

 

Subtitle Sample

 

 

 

 


 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

 

 

Distribution Eclipse / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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Gary Tooze

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