Monday, October 07, 2013

Day Keene's JOY HOUSE- The French film version

Posted by Jeff Stafford on July 22, 2012  MOVIE MORLOCKS

Ed here: This is one of my favorite Day Keene novels. Here's what Rene Clement, the famous French director, did with it. Or to it depending on who you listen to,

When a movie is released under numerous titles it usually means there are problems. It could be confusion over how to market it or a simple case of a movie that doesn’t fit clearly into any designated genre or maybe it’s a star-driven, major studio release that’s too quirky for the average moviegoer but yields enough curiosity value to inspire various promotional approaches to finding the right audience. All of these could apply to JOY HOUSE (1964), an international production based on a pulp fiction paperback by American author Day Keene and filmed on the Riviera near Nice featuring English-speaking (Lola Albright, Jane Fonda, Sorrell Booke, George Gaynes of Tootsie fame) and French-speaking actors (Alain Delon, Andre Oumansky, Annette Poivre, Marc Mazza). It was not a popular success at the time – most critics were unkind in their coverage – but it is a favorite film of mine, warts and all.
Consider the storyline, transplanted from the sleazy urban milieu of Keene’s original novel to the sunny Mediterranean environs of a jet set resort area [Spoilers ahead]. Marc (Delon) is a two-bit hustler and playboy who makes the mistake of seducing the wife of an American gangster. Soon he is running for his life as hired hit men pursue him along the French Riviera coast. Taking refuge in a homeless shelter, he attracts the attention of Barbara (Albright), a wealthy widow, and her niece Melinda (Fonda), who distribute food to the poor on a weekly basis. The two women offer Marc room and board and a position as their chauffeur and he eagerly accepts, despite their strange behavior, because the assassins have traced him to the mission. Once inside Barbara’s chateau, Marc begins to realize he is a pawn in some mysterious plot but what is his alternative? So he plays along, biding his time as both women demand more and more of his attention.

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