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Bel Ami

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    Ian Jane
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  • Bel Ami



    Released by: Klubb Super 8
    Released: N/A
    Director: Mac Ahlberg
    Cast: Harry Reems, Marie Forsa, Christa Linder, Bent Warburg, Lucienne Camille, Jacqueline Laurent
    Year: 1976
    Purchase From Diabolik DVD

    The Movie:

    Released in the U.S.A. as For Men Only, Mac Ahlberg's 1976 Swedish skin-flick Bel Ami star Deep Throat's Harry Reems as Georg Duroy, a man hired to write for a sex magazine who winds up checking out the different 'works of art' on display at a sordid exhibition hall. His assignment is a piece on the decline of art in the world of pornography and soon enough, he's made some interesting connections that will help him with this project, chief amongst them rival publisher Charles Forrestier (André Chazel).

    Georg splits the happening and winds up colliding on the street with a woman named Anita (Christa Linder), who feels bad for hurting him and takes him back to her apartment for a little fun. She shows off her breasts and showers for him, but they don't actually go at it, much to his dismay. Once Georg and Anita finish up, he starts poking about the sexy side of Swedish culture, all in the name of research of course, and he winds up bedding a plethora of native beauties including Maria Forsa, Lisbeth Olsen, Jacqueline Laurent and a few others. Of course, as Georg is doing whatever it takes to get the story, Forrestier is doing everything in his power to beat him to the punch.

    One of those rare adult films that hits the right balance between comedy and drama, Bel Ami finds Reems in fine form carrying the picture in more ways than one. He's got solid comedic timing but also handles the more serious side of the picture quite well, and once it comes time for the frequent love scenes (he's on camera a lot in this regard) his experience in the American adult film industry of the time clearly pays off. Of course, as fine a job as Harry does here, he's only going to be as good as those he is cast opposite, so it is to the film's credit that we get such beautiful European actresses as Maria Forsa, Lisbeth Olsen, Christa Linder and, yes, Jacqueline Laurent (who readers will recognize from Jess Franco's Sinner and Lorna The Exorcist). The ladies give as good as they get here, though it is clear in some of the scenes shot for the feature that body doubles are being used.

    Shot on location in Sweden and set to a decidedly seventies soundtrack, Bel Ami is beautifully shot with cinematography handled not by Ahlberg himself (he would go on to be quite prolific as a cinematographer himself) but by Tony Forsberg. The various night clubs, performance houses, old fashioned mansions, swanky apartments and odd Stockholm locations (we even get a love scene shot in a room with mirrors all over the walls with a rotating bed!) that makeup the backdrop for Georg's misadventures in Sweden are all nicely framed and lit and give the movie a distinctly classy vibe, even when genitals are slapping up against other genitals. It's not a particularly deep film but Bel Ami is a lot of good, light, sexy fun, a relic of the sex obsessed period of seventies Europe that, after peeping at it in movies like this, you'll wish we could get back to!

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Bel Ami debuts on DVD in a 1.66.1 widescreen non-anamorphic transfer that is watchable, if entirely unremarkable. Colors are faded and the whole thing looks a bit too dark, obscuring detail and giving things a rather odd blue tint that probably shouldn't have been there. Having said that, this would appear to be one of those unfortunate cases of doing the best with what is available. At least the image is reasonably clean, free of heavy print damage and void of any compression artifacts.

    The audio chores are handled by a Dolby Digital Mono mix in English with subtitles provided in Swedish. The audio is on par with the video, in that it's not going to impress anyone but it does get the job done. Dialogue is at least clear enough to understand and the levels are properly balanced throughout. Some minor hiss pops into the mix now and again but it's not particularly distracting.

    As far as extras go, the disc includes trailers for Anita, Drrapa, Som Hon Baddar Far Han Ligga, Har Hommer Barsarkarna, Skracken Har 1000 Ogon, Som Havets Nakna Vind, Justine & Juliette, Karlekens XYZ, Exponderad, Flossie and for the feature itself (using the English 'For Men Only' title card). Static menus and chapter selection are also provided.

    The Final Word:

    Bel Ami is sexy, free-wheeling fun, a hardcore comedic drama that serves not just as a showcase for the late, great Harry Reems but for many of his beautiful female co-stars as well. The DVD release from Klubb Super 8 isn't going to blow anyone's mind but it presents the film in decent, if not amazing, condition and in what would appear to be its completely uncut form.


























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