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  • Harrowing and Antdote
    by Cornelia at 12:20 on 07 July 2008
    'Les Femmes de 'L'Ombre' or 'Female Agents' got off to a poor start, I thought, jumping about in places with obscure names in Northern France on different days in 1944,with grey-faced look-alike desk generals discussing earnestly but unmemorably what to do next. If only they'd brought Churchill onscreen, instead of only talking about him it would have made all the difference.

    Once Sophie Marceau and her fellow recruits got into their strides, though, it was all quite exciting, with risky rendezvous and double-dealing all round and some memorable locations, the first sequence set in a military hospital where they were sent to rescue a man who knew too much, Sophie and comrade attempting the rescue from the ward whilst the other two distracted an audience of patients and Nazis by performing a strip-tease. It all became too harrowing after that when Sophie's brother got captured and later one and then another of the girls. The suspense was cleverly done,but I found the torture scenes far too convincing. Some kind of light relief was provided by Juliet Depardieu, Gerard's daughter I think,who thankfully looks nothing like him and played an ex-prostitute who's only taking part because she was blackmailed into it.

    Doris Day in 'A Touch of Mink' on VHS was a perfect antidote. I'd forgotten what a good film this is, and noticed how recent films echo sequences and conventions in it. Doris plays Cathy, a city bachelor girl who's always losing her job because the men get fresh with her - even the man at the benefits counter says he'll only hand out her unemployment check if she agrees to go on a date with him. On her way to the diner where her room-mate works as a filler behind a wall of coin-in-the-slot food boxes, her clothes are splashed by a passing limousine which turns out to be owned by millionaire businessman Cary Grant. Now which other famous series, recently a film, starts with the heroine getting splashed?

    Interestingly, in TTOM it's a kind of metaphor for what Cathy is trying to avoid - 'contamination' by loss of virginity as per her usual film roles.In SATC the stakes are less, in fact don't seem to figure in th equation, until we're reminded that marriage as goal is the same theme for both, really, however heavily disguised in the latter.

    The running gag in the diner where Gig Young is repeatedly assaulted from behind the food-bx barrier because Cathy's room-mate thinks he's the ruthless seducer is very funny. When Cary Grant offers her a round-the world trip, the sequence where she Cathy watches a parade of outfits to take her pick of in a fashion store recalls similar scenes in later films, such as 'Pretty Woman' as well as 'SATC'. The blatant materialism is just as strong but somehow so much more wittily done. It's also quite endearing that Cathy, having decided to play along and pay the price, should break out in spots at the very idea of succumbing to the handsome Cary.

    My favourite D.D. film is 'Calamity Jane', but this is very good, partly because the male lead is up to the job. Mind you, every time he spoke I was reminded of Tony Curtis doing a take-off of his accent in 'Some Like it Hot'