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Anchor Bay presents
"Waist size: 20. Bust size: 36. Shoes: 6."
DVD ReviewNaughty Girl (Cette Sacree Gamine) is an innocuous romantic French comedy starring Brigitte Bardot as Brigitte Pigalle, a young, carefree dancer, daughter of successful nightclub owner Paul LaTour (Bernard Lancret). When her father's "Mississippi" club is implicated in a counterfeiting scheme, lounge singer Jean Clery (Jean Bretonniere) is conscripted to keep her away from the police and her father's "business associates." She nearly burns down his apartment, spends an evening in jail, and otherwise complicates his life, but inevitably she finds her way into his heart. A final comic battle against the mobsters (aided by Jean's butler Jerome (Raymond Bussieres) and his poker buddies) cinches the romance, and in a uniquely French development, Jean's now-ex-fiancee Dr. Lili Rocher (Francoise Fabian) becomes good friends with Bardot.
Director Michel Boisrond treats this material with a light touch—he doesn't try to turn it into a frenetic farce, but allows the contrived story to unfold of its own accord. Slapstick, sight gags, mistaken motives and extremely unlikely coincidences drive most of the humor and plot, but none of this matters that much—the heart of the film is provided by Bardot, innocently sexy and thoroughly sweet, projecting as much charisma today as she did five decades ago. The romance develops honestly if predictably, and the film is enlivened by balletic dream sequences featuring Bardot in fantasy settings as a pirate's captive, a bride, and other visions of loveliness courtesy of screenwriter Roger Vadim. Mischa Auer appears briefly as a flustered ballet master, and a green parrot who cries "Everybody naked! You'll get peanuts, you'll get peanuts!" lends a bizarre tone to the proceedings.
The film has a kind of disingenuous charm—the performances are "typed" but entertaining (minor American and Japanese characters are stereotyped but inoffensive), and there's a pleasant sense of nonchalance about the whole endeavor. Boisrond, whether due to budgetary constraints or intentional creativity, comes up with a wonderful device for a brief "telephone conference" scene—rather than using optical split screens, he places the actors in a SET made of boxes of various shapes, pulling the camera back and lighting the spaces as needed to produce a similar effect. When the principal actors are thrown over tables and around the room during the climactic fight, it's apparent that there are NO stuntmen involved. Most French films seen in the US are serious fare, indebted to the "New Wave" art house films of Truffaut and Godard, and I found this simple, lightweight comedy from the more commercial side of the tracks refreshing. Brief nudity and a few curse words may surprise modern eyes and ears (considering the film's 1956 release) but there's not a cloud in the Parisian skies as depicted here.
Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-
Image Transfer Review: Anchor Bay's Naughty Girl features an excellent source print, remastered from the original film negative. It's colorful, clean and almost completely free of dirt and scratches (aside from the opening credits), anamorphically mastered for DVD in its original 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio. The Cinemascope image is well-preserved here, with solid blacks and bright colors, though the cinematography is SO wide some viewers may still lose detail on the sides due to overscan. I spotted no distracting artifacts, edge enhancement or other problems, and I can't imagine this vintage film looking any better than this.
Image Transfer Grade: A
Audio Transfer Review: Naughty Girl features its original monophonic French soundtrack (with optional English subtitles), mastered in 2-channel Dolby Surround and decoded to play exclusively through the center speaker. Music/dialogue separation is sometimes an issue, and music sounds a bit shrill with little bass, but dialogue and effects are clean with no hiss or distortion that can't be attributed to the original source. A more "open" remix might have been a nice extra addition, if only to spread the soundstage out a bit; the original soundtrack is dated but nicely presented here.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 21 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Extras Review: The only area where Anchor Bay's Naughty Girl disc falls down is in the supplements area. Granted, films from the pre-video age usually have few "extra" materials available—any surviving reel of outtakes or behind-the-scenes footage would be a find indeed, but even so the extras here are minimal. The DVD features 21 chapter stops with simple chapter title text menus, a series of well-written, comprehensive Brigitte Bardot biography and filmography text screens (shared with other entries in Anchor Bay's "Brigitte Bardot Collection"), and a Trailer for the film. The trailer (apparently from a US or British release, titled That Naughty Girl) is quite entertaining and definitely a period piece—it has an exploitative, carnival flair about it as the viewer is exhorted to "Have the Frenchiest time of your life!" It's presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic, though it's not in the pristine condition of the main attraction—the Eastmancolor has gone a little pink, and the image is noticeably softer.
Extras Grade: D+
Final CommentsAs usual, Anchor Bay devotes great care to a vintage catalog title most studios would have released quickly and cheaply, if at all. Naughty Girl is not a comic masterpiece, nor is it Bardot's most significant film. But it succeeds in being what it wants to be—fluffy, fun and completely harmless, and you're not likely to see it looking or sounding better than it does on Anchor Bay's DVD. Worth checking out.
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