Sunday, August 05, 2018

Hiding Brigitte

Keeping a gangster's beautiful daughter hidden while her father is on the lam can be trickier and involve more slapstick and songs than you might imagine. In 1956's Naughty Girl (Cette sacrée gamine) a suave nightclub singer has just such a task which makes for a delightful screwball comedy that is overshadowed slightly by the loveliness of its star, Brigitte Bardot.

Jean Clery (Jean Bretonniere) is kind of a low rent Dean Martin who sings at a cabaret club. He's engaged to a fussy psychotherapist named Lili (Francoise Fabian) before his life is upended after a gang boss he's indebted to (Bernard Lancret) tasks him with caring for his young daughter. Jean not only has to hide young Brigitte (Bardot) from the authorities, who'd want to question her in connection to her father's crimes, he also has to keep hidden from her the fact that her father is a gangster, something the old man's kept her ignorant of so far.

It's a good set up for screwball and it starts paying off immediately when Jean goes to retrieve Brigitte from a dance school where she's being taught some kind of group Grecian ode to spring dance in a tiny white dress. He's much more panicked than she as the two run from the cops through the showers and then out onto the lawn and into a car. She reminds him with only mild perturbation that she's almost naked.

Bardot easily outshines Bretonniere. Director Michel Boisrond contrives several creative teases for the audience with her. The first time we see her, greeting her father outside their mansion, she seems to be fixing some dirty machine while wearing only a shirt and panties.

Then she takes the shirt off to reveal a perfectly innocent (well, really scandalously two piece) swimsuit before diving into a pool that was nearby all the time.

Hiding in Jean's home Bardot is great in plenty of the inevitable suspense comedy as she manages to stay just out of the eyeline of a visiting police inspector and hilariously tries to give a parrot to a gang courier who assumes she's speaking in code. The film also has a few nice musical numbers--Bretonniere's singing underwhelms but Bardot is great in the dance numbers, particularly in a series of Jean's fantasies. According to Wikipedia, this movie was more successful at the box office than the contemporaneous And God Created Woman, and I think I do like this film better.

Twitter Sonnet #1141

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