And God Created Woman from 1956 with Brigitte Bardot
And God Created Woman is a love letter to a very young Brigitte Bardot. I had that thought before learning, after the movie, director Roger Vadin was Bardot's husband at the time. Instead of jewelry, a car, clothes or a vacation, Vadim gave his wife a starring role in a film as a gift. Not bad.
There are the lithe beautiful women of the world, like Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn, and then there are the amped up everything women, like Marilyn Monroe or Sophia Loren. Bardot is firmly in the latter group.
Sure, there is a story here, and it's surprisingly okay (compared to most of John Derek's all but unwatchable love letters on film to his wife Bo twenty years later), but you watch this movie to see Bardot being Bardot.
From the opening shot of her sunbathing nude (other than a very brief side shot of her bare bottom, she's clothed, albeit scantily, throughout) to her final dance scene in her unbutton-up-to-there dress, it's all about seeing Bardot. It wouldn't work if she was just beautiful; it works because her youthful joy sparkles on film.
Eighteen-year-old orphaned Bardot is fostered by a family - a mom and three sons - in Saint Tropez. Bardot is oddly spoiled and acts ungrateful to her foster family. What mom with three sons ranging in age from early teens to mid twenties thought bringing this sex-on-steroids woman into her family was a good idea is a question for the ages.
In addition to dating the oldest son, Bardot is pursued by a wealthy middle-aged businessman who is also trying to buy the fostering family's failing boatyard. But when the mother, finally fed up with Bardot's attitude, is about to send her back to the orphanage (can you even do that with an eighteen year old?), the middle son surprisingly steps up and marries her.
Oddly, now is when the love triangle - quadrangle - really kicks in as the older brother, the one Bardot seems to really love, becomes angry that he didn't marry her when he had the chance, while the wealthy businessman continues to circle both Bardot and the family's boatyard.
The rest of the movie is waiting for the marriage to break. Bardot, showing more insight than most of the others, recognizes that she makes bad decisions. Yet, like many eighteen-year olds, she can't help herself and she knows she can't.
Bardot gives her marriage a chance while the middle son tries his best, but Bardot is too full of life and sexuality to settle down at eighteen. The marriage does break in expected and unexpected ways with a surprisingly cool outcome, but you'll want to see that end for yourself.
While And God Created Woman's surface and subliminal lust was scandalous for its time, today it doesn't shock, but it still works because of Bardot's evergreen sensuality. The movie is also neat time travel to San Tropez in the 1950s. It's not a great movie, but there are worse ways to spend an hour and a half than watching Bardot's youth and beauty lift off the screen.