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The Image (1975) - Radley Metzger

Related: 1975 - Mary Mendum - Catherine Robbe-Grillet - L'Image (1956) - Radley Metzger - erotic films - sadism and masochism in mainstream film

Mary Mendum is Anne in The Image

The Image / The Punishment of Anne (1975) - Radley Metzger [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

She lifts her skirt for her mistress in this lovely scene.

The Image / The Punishment of Anne (1975) - Radley Metzger [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Description

The Image is a 1975 French film. The film is also known by two other titles: The Punishment of Anne and The Mistress and the Slave and was directed by Radley Metzger. The film is based upon the classic novel L'Image (written by Catherine Robbe-Grillet.

The story of Jean, a writer who meets an old friend, Claire, at a party and is soon drawn into her world of sadomasochism along with her slave, Anne. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Image [Mar 2005]

Radley Metzger on The Image

The Image (aka The Punishment of Anne, 1973, released 1976 by Audubon) is an S&M movie based on the French novel L'Image by Jean de Berg. Marilyn Roberts stars as Claire, a dominatrix. and Mary Mendum is Anne, a masochist, also involved with Jean, a male writer in Paris. "We started filming but in the middle of shooting, the Supreme Court came down saying that you couldn't shoot erotic movies. We were nervous because this was a film that was dealing with subject matter far more controversial than the typical erotic film. Nothing came from the decision, but we were held up. It took a little longer than the other films. In the mean time, we shot The Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann. We had to come back and finish The Image." It was based on a book by Alain Robbe-Grillet. "Actually, he and his wife. In France, his reputation as a novelist and director is so established that he was able to halt the film version from being released there. Between our acquisition of his book and the making of the film The Story of O was released. It was very successful at the box office, and he asked us for more money. We had a contract, and I said we couldn't do that. I didn't appreciate the pressure, so we said, 'Fuck You.'" The screenplay was published by Grove Press.

"Claire draws Jean into her world because she desires to play Anne's role. There is a very effective scene near the end of the movie. After being bested by Jean, Claire asks Anne, 'Where will I go? What will I do?' Anne shines a harsh light on her own face and the two actresses, although separated by a 20 year difference, suddenly appear very similar. That is also in the book and I think we adapted that scene well for the picture. Marilyn Roberts was in the original cast of Futz, the Tom Horgan play about the man in love with a pig. It was kind of important In the 70s." The Image was shot in France but interiors were done in NYC. "You can't tell at all. Believe it or not, the interiors were shot at Roy Cohn's house. He really was one of the biggest scumbags of all time"

Radley Metzger interviewed by Jay Kent Lorenz, Psychotronic Video No. 17, Winter 1994

DVD review

1975 saw the release of American Radley Metzger's The Image, an erotic film based on the French erotic novel L’Image (written by Catherine Robbe-Grillet under the masculine pseudonym Jean de Berg). In the movie, Jean (Carl Parker) gets in touch with an old acquaintance, Claire (Marilyn Roberts). He discovers that Claire is in control of Anne (Mary Mendum), a young blonde who seems to do little except to serve the dark sexual whims of her mistress. So, for 90-plus minutes, the viewer gets to see Jean and Claire abuse Anne in just about every way short of permanently injuring/killing her.

Despite the pseudo-artsiness of the filmmakers’ style--dividing the movie into “chapters” complete with title cards; using eye-catching costumes, sets, and locations; passing off indifference as “sophistication”--“The Image” never really overcomes its built-in limitations as a hard-to-watch exercise in degradation and humiliation. Claire and Jean force Anne to reveal herself in public and have sex with random strangers. They torture Anne with an assortment of rose thorns, chains, whips, needles, and rough sex. Twice, Anne must endure Jean and Claire fondling her between her legs while in a restaurant. Why? The film never really offers an explanation, and the only possible reason I can offer to you the reader is that these characters are rich and have nothing else to do that might amuse them.

Carl Parker’s smug performance will remind you of the many boors and male porn stars that you have encountered/heard of, and Marilyn Roberts plays a frigid bitch with no dimensionality. Surprisingly, Mary Mendum delivers a rather good performance as the victimized Anne. She manages to convey real fear and pain with her eyes and subtle facial expressions. However, I'm afraid that her efforts were wasted in an enterprise as sordid as this one.

Luis Buñuel and Stanley Kubrick have both made complex movies about off-kilter sexual tastes without resorting to lingering shots of genitalia or focusing strictly on sex. Buñuel and Kubrick show how sex colors all aspects of life, but “The Image” is mostly interested in sex for sex’s sake. I’m open to the idea that Jean, Claire, and Anne indulge in the dark side of carnality simply because they become sexually aroused by pain (both physical and psychological). However, if their motivations are that simple, then we don’t really need a feature-length film (or a novel) to tell us that there are people in the world who like rough/humiliating sexual activities--just offer us a few thoughts, and we’ll be on our way, thank you very much.

Entertainment Value: “The Image” was made when society was still curious and permissive enough to allow erotic films into the mainstream. However, despite the fact that filmmakers could make sexually exploratory movies without facing as much opposition as filmmakers would today, they usually did not seize the opportunity to make meaningful films. “The Image” may have a literary source, but it differs little from exploitation flicks of any genre from any time period. An action movie comprised of repetitive, continuous violence is a crass, simple throwaway, but an action movie made with skill and fresh ideas is an achievement. “The Image” is not unlike action movies lacking in inspiration--there’s a lot of nudity and just-shy-of-hardcore sex in the movie, but it has nothing to say other than the obvious. --By Yunda Eddie Feng (July 8, 2002)

DVD

The Image / The Punishment of Anne (1975) - Radley Metzger [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
The cover of the DVD-release by Synapse films is a disservice to the overall aesthetics of The Image, the VHS cover is much more beautiful.

The Image is a disturbing, erotic, scary, elegant movie that probably only Radley Metzger could have made. Most directors of 'erotica' concentrate on gynecological close-ups to the exclusion of all else; Metzger's hallmark has always been to tell a story and explain the characters and their situation without ever resorting to the patronizing smirk, relying as much on the actors' eyes as on the dialogue. The S&M scene is as alien to me as peanut-butter-and-pickle sandwiches (which I am also told some enjoy), but in The Image I can see the gamesmanship, the role-playing and the unspoken psychological leveraging that makes it all so compellingly complex. Would I show this film to Grandma? Uh-uh. But then, that's just MY grandma, yours may well have a side you never suspected. This film is hot, fascinating, and, in this gorgeous and UNCUT (thank you, thank you!) video transfer, stunningly beautiful as well. --ssmithee for amazon.com

Synapse Films

Mark Richard Hasan: What actually brought The Image to your attention?

Don May: Well it was one of those things. I've been a fan of Radley's stuff for a while, and it kind of was this weird coincidence that has actually happened. One of the guys who works at First Run Features (which is the company that took care of most of Radley's films on videotape) was a friend of mine, and he came to us and he said, "Hey, you know, you should talk to Radley… The Image is really great, and it's too much for us to release." I mean, it's very explicit, and they said, "It's kind of something that's not up our alley… We can't really do it."

And I know that Image Entertainment, who put out the DVDs of his other materials like Therese and Isabelle, had also passed on the title because of its controversial nature. I got [Radley Metzger's] email address and I asked Radley, 'Hey, you know, I'm Don from Synapse Films, and I'd love to do The Image.'

And as soon as I emailed him - about two days later - another guy had just emailed me and had said "I run this web site [Mondo Erotico - http://www.vidmarc.demon.co.uk/mondo-erotico/index_metzger.html) that is this sort of Radley Metzger site, and you guys should do The Image."

All of a sudden it just came together in a week, and we ended up striking a deal with Radley and ended up getting the title, and it's been really, really great for us. It was a chance; we'd never done anything like this before, and we just decided to take a chance see how it would work out, and it's worked out really well. --http://www.toldyouso.net/specials/interviews/donmay/donMay2.html [Jun 2004]

L'Image (1956) - Jean de Berg (novel)

  1. The Image (1956)- Jean De Berg/Catherine Robbe-Grillet [Amazon US] [FR] [UK]
    THE IMAGE is a translation of a French novel, very much in the tradition of the better-known, STORY OF O. Jean, a ruggedly handsome writer, goes to a party in a Parisian suburb where he runs into an old acquaintence, Claire. He find she has in tow a stunning young blonde in a plain white dress. This is Anne, who Claire introduces as "just a model", adding simply: "She belongs to me". Jean accepts Claire's invitation to leave the boring party, and join them for drinks in a neary bistro. That night, Jean learns more about the strange relationship between these two fascinating women. As the weeks go by, he is drawn even more deeply into that tangled web, till his very male presence causes subtle changes to take place between the lovers. At one point, Claire "loans" Anne to Jean, to with as he will. The powerful lusts unleashed, drives the story to an ending that brings an unusual twist. THE IMAGE presents a tale of raw sexual power and subjugation, elegantly told. Like the famous STORY OF O, the variations have been told before. But this time the telling is so masterful, so complete, and so economically done, that it has become a classic in its own right. --Hollis Compton via Amazon.com

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