Newest Reviews
Godzilla Singular Point
Ace of Aces
Innocents, The
Beast and the Magic Sword, The
Last Hard Men, The
Found Footage Phenomenon, The
Night Trap
Skinny Tiger, Fatty Dragon
Nezha Reborn
Evil Toons
Worst Person in the World, The
Hunter Will Get You
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse
Men, The
Parallel Mothers
Sadness, The
Bloody New Year
Body Count
Spider-Man: No Way Home
'Round Midnight
Wild Men
Barry & Joan
Wake Up Punk
Twin, The
Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy
One of These Days
Lift to the Scaffold
Savage Dawn
Rest in Pieces
Innocents in Paris
We're All Going to the World's Fair
Beyond the Door 3
Jules et Jim
Love Jones
Souvenir Part II, The
Newest Articles
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
  Mademoiselle With Evil On Her Mind
Year: 1966
Director: Tony Richardson
Stars: Jeanne Moreau, Ettore Manni, Keith Skinner, Umberto Orsini, Georges Aubert, Jane Beretta, Paul Barge, Pierre Collet, Gerard Darieu, Jean Gras, Gabriel Gobin, Rosine Luguet, Antoine Morin, Georges Douking, Jacques Monod, Mony Rey
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: There's a troublemaker in this small French village, and nobody knows who it is. Well, almost nobody: the culprit is aware of her identity, for she is the local schoolteacher, known only as Mademoiselle (Jeanne Moreau) to both her pupils and the adults in the region. But while she has an apparently unimpeachable reputation among them as a prim and proper member of the community, she has a grim secret of sabotage that is causing havoc at regular intervals. Take today, when the children are out with the nuns on a parade: while the villagers are distracted, she visits the floodgates of the nearby dam and opens them...

Tony Richardson after he directed nineteen-sixties megahit Tom Jones had something of a bumpy ride in his career, since the expectation was he would follow that and the other British New Wave movies he had been instrumental in with another huge success, and another, and another... but it was not to be. First he went to Hollywood to helm black comedy The Loved One, which though now a cult movie was not universally liked, or even welcomed by the loyal few by too much, and after that he went to France where he was in charge of this effort, Mademoiselle, which sounded more promising, a serious character drama written by Jean Genet.

Well, that was the theory, but Genet was only credited with the "scenario" on the end result, seeing as how it was rewritten by a number of other hands which did not exactly solve the issues that wound up on the screen. But there was a respectability this was patently striving for in general that it did not quite match: Richardson was still a "name" director, it was starring the respected actress Moreau, it was a self-consciously Continental project, and had some rather lovely widescreen, black and white cinematography to at least lend it a classy appearance. However, when it was all edited together, the critics were sceptical and audiences uninterested.

Maybe the biggest problem was that in its attempt to stare keenly at the abyss in the soul of its main character/villainess, it ended up a little silly. So nasty were her antics that you could just have easily filmed this as a black comedy like The Loved One and it might even have been more effective, especially when there was no attempt to explain why the schoolteacher was quite as evil as she was, we simply had to take it for granted. Her main obsession is starting fires, and a little after we join her she has continued to burn barns in the vicinity, but so far as no one has realised it's her behind it, she is not too bothered about shifting blame, though one of her students, son of strapping Italian lumberjack immigrant Ettore Manni, has begun to suspect her, mainly because she insists on victimising him in classes.

This has a twisted effect on the boy, Bruno (Keith Skinner, one of the few Brits cast), who buckles under the pressure and starts killing a rabbit and lashing out at his father, who to compound matters is something of a lothario now his wife has passed on. Now the plot takes shape: Mademoiselle will allow him to seduce her, which she does in a somewhat absurd set of sequences that indicate they have been at it most of the day and all of the night in the surrounding countryside, but allowing him to sate his lust will have serious consequences most viewers will see coming a mile off. In the meantime, she poisons the local livestock, an apt metaphor for her toxic influence in a film that indulged itself with symbolism at every opportunity. Maybe it was down to the artificiality of the premise, which although not unique in French cinema did make this look a bit copycat, maybe it was because it was too desperately trying to be important by being horrible (always a pitfall), but this didn't score thematically: where it did succeed was as beautifully photographed, unpleasant camp.

[The BFI release this on Blu-ray and DVD with these features:

Newly recorded audio commentary by Adrian Martin
Keith Skinner: Remembering Mademoiselle (2020, 36 mins): the actor and historian discusses his work on Mademoiselle
Doll's Eye (1982, 75 mins): rare and never before released BFI Production Board film directed by Jan Worth that examines contradictory male attitudes to women as they affect a researcher, a prostitute and a switchboard operator
Image gallery
Original theatrical trailer
***FIRST PRESSING ONLY*** Illustrated booklet with new writing on the film by Jon Dear and Neil Young. Also includes writing on Jean Genet by Jane Giles and an essay by Jan Worth on Doll's Eye.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 896 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
  Desbris M
  Sheila Reeves
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Enoch Sneed


Last Updated: