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AND GOD CREATED WOMAN (Et Dieu … créa la femme)(director/writer: Roger Vadim; screenwriter: Raoul Lévy; cinematographer: Armand Thirard; editor: Victoria Mercanton; music: Paul Misraki; cast: Brigitte Bardot (Juliete Hardy), Curd Jürgens (Eric Carradine), Jean-Louis Trintignant (Michel Tardieu), Christian Marquand (Antoine Tardieu), Marie Glory (Mme. Tardieu), Georges Poujouly (Christian Tardieu), Jane Marken (Madame Morin), Jean Tissier (M. Vigier-Lefranc), Jean Tuscano (Rene); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Raoul Lévy; Criterion Collection/Janus Films; 1956-France, in French with English subtitles)
Adding up to hardly anything more than a bunch of snapshots of Bardot posturing as a sex kitten in various stages of undress.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Brigitte Bardotwas just 21 when then husband Roger Vadim made his directing debut and cast her in And God Created Woman, and her sexy look made her an overnight star in this pre-French New Wave sex romp. This is the Bardot vehicle that started the craze for her as a sexpot, and might be the only decent film the womanizing Vadim ever made aside from Pretty Maids All In A Row (71). Though as seen today, it seems like camp yet Bardot remains erotic. The film was basically about the curvaceous Bardot scandalizing Saint-Tropez with her nymphomaniac behavior, overt posturing in sexuality, and tempting desirability. Vadim was to make a dull update with a complete overhaul of the scenario in 1987 with Rebecca De Mornay in the Bardot sex kitten role.

Juliete Hardy (Bardot) is a free-spirited 18-year-old orphan living with a conservative adopted family in the tiny fishing village of St. Tropez. She upsets her adoptive mom by her amoral behavior, as the first glimpse we get of her is when she’s sunbathing in the nude and her bare ass is exposed as older wealthy man Eric Carradine (Curd Jürgens) is flirting and lasciviously eyeballing her. Her other near fatal mistake that same day is treating with disrespect a Welfare Department inspector (Marken) while clerking at a bookstore. The plan is now to send her back to the orphanage until she’s 21 and is more responsible.

When the handsome man Juliete really loves and wants to marry, the misogynist-like Antoine Tardieu (Christian Marquand), stands her up and treats her as someone good for only a one-night stand, Juliete’s resigned to her fate. But Antoine’s bashful inexperienced younger brother Michel Tardieu (Jean-Louis Trintignant) marries her to keep her in Saint-Tropez, despite being warned by his sour mom (Marie Glory) and everyone else in the village that she’s a slut and he’ll be sorry.

Nice guy Michel comes from a family of shipbuilders, who own a valuable shipyard sitting on prime real-estate but they have no money.

Bardot succeeds in driving the three men crazy who foolishly lust after her, Antoine, Eric, and Michel. The smarmy Eric in the meantime takes time out from lusting after her to swing a deal to buy the shipyard from the Tardieu family so he can build a casino/hotel, and works out the deal when Bardot clues him in that the reluctant sellers will sell if he lets them own a piece of the property to still run their shipyard.

Though Bardot tries to be faithful to the complying Michel, she fails because she can’t control her sexual urges. After being unfaithful with brother Antoine and his mom tells Michel the news, Bardot breaks out in strange behavior as Michel chases after the woman who can’t be with just one-man. She’s dancing a hot number with a black band when Eric, Michel, and Antoine converge on the bar. It’s up to the more experienced lover Eric to offer his wisdom in the matters of love by observing “That girl was made to destroy men,” which goes as the film’s theme.

The breezy erotic drama was laced with some thinly textured sad moments that hardly resonated as serious drama. But as slight as the story was it was always lively and easy to take on the eyes, adding up to hardly anything more than a bunch of snapshots of Bardot posturing as a sex kitten in various stages of undress. The public loved it and it became a big box-office smash, and paved the wave for a spate of sexy films to follow. What was more disturbing than its dullish dialogue and flaunting of Bardot as a sex object, was that underneath its call for liberation was a reactionary and sexist view of sex.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”