The Forgotten: Ken Russell's "French Dressing" (1964)

  • MUBI
Ken Russell spent most of his days regarding his first theatrical feature, French Dressing, as a disaster. Certainly it did his career prospects no good at the time. Then he caught it on late night TV in the nineties, and said to himself, "This is a masterpiece!"He might have been right, though the film's effect is so indefinable that its success or failure on its own terms, whatever they might be, is hard to be certain of. But it's sufficiently unlike anything else to qualify for some kind of place of honor in the sub-sub-genre of British seaside psychotronic cinema.The starting point was kind of charming and straightforward: a run-down coastal resort tries to vie with Cannes by launching a film fest and inviting the latest Gallic sex kitten sensation. The producer probably imagined something a bit like a Carry On film, whereas Russell hoped to take things into Jacques Tati territory.
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