Thursday, August 25, 2022

Venere in pelliccia aka Venus in fur - Devil In The Flesh (1969) Italian Sexploitation Noir

"An artsy fartsy Transitional Sexploitation Noir about an overly rich weirdo, that was probably financed by overly rich inbred weirdos."

Directed by Massimo Dallamano

Dallamano is probably most famous for his work with Sergio Leone on both A Fistful of Dollars as Cinematographer as Jack Dalmas (1964) and on For a Few Dollars More (1965) as Director of Photography. Written by Fabio Massimo (screenplay) and based on Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's novel. Beautiful Cinematography was by Sergio D'Offizi, and Music was by Gianfranco Reverberi. 

The film stars Laura Antonelli (A Man Called Slade) as Wanda von Dunajew, Régis Vallée as Severin, Loren Ewing as Bruno, Renate Kasché as Blond Maid, Werner Pochath as Andreimis the  Young Fisherman, and Mady Rahl as Helga Witte.

This title was suggested to me as a Noir though there is some confusion as to which title actually was suggested. This film Venus in Fur (1969) or Venus in Furs (1969) directed by Jesús Franco. I ended up watching both and they are both Sexploitation Noir.

For some reason that escapes me, and it may just be the luck of the draw of what films I've seen, but a lot of these post 1960 Euro films have been mostly dealing with the upper classes and take place in huge deserted palazzos. I'm more connected to Noirs about life's losers, that take place in gritty city locations in crummy neighborhoods.  

Laura Antonelli as Wanda

Régis Vallée as Severin

Venus in Furs (German: Venus im Pelz) the source of the film is a novella by the Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch first published in 1870. The framing story concerns a man who dreams of speaking to Venus about love while she wears furs. The unnamed narrator tells his dreams to a friend, Severin, who tells him how to break himself of his fascination with cruel women by reading a manuscript, Memoirs of a Suprasensual Man.

This manuscript tells of a man, Severin von Kusiemski, who is so infatuated with a woman, Wanda von Dunajew, that he asks to be her slave, and encourages her to treat him in progressively more degrading ways. At first Wanda does not understand or accede to the request, but after humoring Severin a bit she finds the advantages of the method to be interesting and enthusiastically embraces the idea, although at the same time she disdains Severin for allowing her to do so.

Severin describes his feelings during these experiences as suprasensuality. Severin and Wanda travel to Florence. Along the way, Severin takes the generic Russian servant's name of "Gregor" and the role of Wanda's servant. In Florence, Wanda treats him brutally as a servant, and recruits a trio of African women to dominate him.

The relationship arrives at a crisis when Wanda meets a man to whom she would like to submit, a Byronic hero known as Alexis Papadopolis. At the end of the book, Severin, humiliated by Wanda's new lover, loses the desire to submit. He says of Wanda: 

That woman, as nature has created her, and man at present is educating her, is man's enemy. She can only be his slave or his despot, but never his companion. This she can become only when she has the same rights as he and is his equal in education and work. (wiki) 

So the basis of this Psychological Noir is a story about an obsessed and alienated individual with dark psycho-sexual fetishistic needs, which of course gives this film a sheen of classical respectability to a very stylishly artistic commercial sexploitation film.  

The story 

During his vacation in some upper crust Italian lake resort, Severin a wealthy man of leisure is making small talk with resort owner Helga as she walks her dog along the lakeshore. Helga and Severin are interrupted by the arrival of the gorgeous model Wanda de Dunaieff. Helga excuses herself to attend to the check in details. 

The arrival of the gorgeous model Wanda de Dunaieff

to the bungalow

Severin watches with perverted interest as this Wanda is checked into the empty suite adjoining his own in the resort bungalow. He leaves the lake shore and scurries into his own suite. Severin has apparently done this routine before. His M.O. is to douse all the light in his suite by closing the curtains to make it dark. Making his way to the long log wall that separates the two suites. He removes a few strategically placed hanging paintings, and then proceeds to peep upon Wanda as she undresses and bathes away the grime of her travels.  

Wanda still naked then tries on a fur wrap, she then starts to masturbate. 

Severin tells us  about how he remembers when his compulsion started during his childhood. You can see him peeping as a young boy upon the maid Katharina having sex with the chauffeur. When the maid spots him spying she slaps him. Ergo peeping, sex, and pain = sexual fulfilment. 

Young Severin

After Wanda climaxes Severin lays  down upon his bed and writes down his thoughts about the erotic power of a Venus in furs.

Severin becomes obsessed with Wanda. He basically shadows her around the resort. Wanda is a female on the prowl. She is hunting men. 

There are tabloid rumors that Wanda may be something of a nympho. Her first conquest at the resort is one of the handymen. She spots him working on one of the resort sailboats and positions herself where he can watch as she displays her legs to him. Severin observes her in action on the grounds of the resort and then later in her suite through his peepholes as she and the handyman get it on. 

Severin obsessed to the point of action, finally makes his moves on Wanda.  Wanda is apparently ready for another lover and now turns her attentions on him. They have sex. 

After sex, Wanda gets up and flips through her scrap book. She shows Severin a photo of herself when she was a stripper. 

Severin gets excited again and wants to see her strip routine. Wanda puts on her costume and waves a whip around.

He starts to kiss her and the two fall back on the bed. Severin demands from Wanda to hit him with the whip. 

They become an item. Severin and Wanda dance in a club. There Wanda tells Severin that she is in love with him. She also confesses to him that she knew that Severin was watching her that time she had sex with the handyman. Severin says that that's OK because he wants to suffer at her hands. 

Severin shows Wanda around the resort and the lake. He takes her water skiing. He has Wanda in a Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe, oral sex on a blanket on the grass. 

Severin takes Wanda horseback riding. To further show Wanda how kinky he can be and to I guess get even more  "in the mood" Severin takes her on a impromptu date to a horse fucking. Yes you read that right. Now I'm ashamed to admit it but this is the second time I've come across this scenario in a Euro film. The last time it was a French film that I think had Le bete in the title. It was the same scenario. Notice these euro erotica films also seem to have a weird penchant for masks, robes, and pointy hoods... what's up with that? Some bizarre remnant of medieval times, something in the water?  We don't have that kink here in the U.S.A. Make a mental note beware of horse trainers that want to "show" you something.

The horse trainer that wants to show you something

Anyway a horse trainer buddy takes Severin and Wanda to a stable. There we get an education on how the breeding of a stallion and a mare is accomplished. They take the mare that is in heat and tie her up to a hitching post. The stallion is in a nearby stall, They bring a colt on the scene and the colt overpowered by the mares scent & pheromones starts licking her head and neck. 

Seve... should I get us a bag of popcorn?

This goes on for four or five minutes. the licking by the colt gets the mare lubed up. The handlers then take the colt away and reposition the mare on the other side of the rail. Then they let the stallion, who is ready to do the deed out of the gate and he just mounts that mare bites her on the neck and takes care of business.



Thank-you Mam!

Severin looks like he's enjoying it just a tad too much. lol. 

Severin next encourages Wanda to seduce a young fisherman that they see along a river. Wanda obliges.

Eventually the fisherman leads Wanda off into the bushes and has sex. Severin follows and watches for a while. 

He likes to watch.

We are basically replaying the Stallion & Mare mating ritual where the fisherman is the Colt. Severin makes himself seen and the young fisherman grabs his clothes and runs away. Severin slides into the saddle. 

Severin explains to Wanda that he gets off on being humiliated. Severin wants her to beat him and to abuse him. Wanda agrees. Wanda is his dream girl, they get married and Severin takes Wanda to his seaside villa.  

He buys them a used Rolls. As they drive back to the villa along the Riviera, Wanda goes down on him. Severin has also bought himself a chauffer's uniform. 

I want to do something special....

Road head

Oh Wanda!!!!

Villa Severin

At the villa Severin tells Wanda that she will be the mistress and stay in the master bedroom and that he will play the chauffer stay in the chauffer's quarters. Wanda meets the two lesbian maids. Apparently this setup might have been another of Severin's orchestrated peeping targets. 

Severin playing chauffer

However one of these maids turns the tables and spies on Wanda and Severin making love. And then watches as Wanda whips Severin. Its another sexploitation scenario because she gets horny and goes looking for her gal pal. 

The spying maid

The maid finds her gal pal and embraces and kisses her in the hall, how Noir of them.

I guess not being just satisfied with their assumed tongue in groove "tête au vagin." action earlier, The maid later that night shows up naked at Severin's chauffer's quarters. He sends her away. 

The un satisfied maid goes back to her quarters where her girlfriend beats her. They then have some makeup sex.

The new sex game is "The Chauffer & The Lady Slut" He will chauffer Wanda around encouraging her to feed her nymphomania. He wants her to pick up men and have sex but with the caveat that he wants to watch. 

Wanda first picks up an artist. She brings him to the villa with his materials and she poses nude on a couch with an upraised whip in her hand. 

Severin whispers for Wanda to seduce the artist

The Leone red filter

Sex through a curtain

The Leone Closeup

Wanda next gets attracted to a biker she spots while Severin is driving her down the road. Wanda tells Severin to chase him down. He does and Wanda makes her play. With the biker riding in the back seat with her, she tells Severin to pull off on the next secluded side road. 

This is your lucky day

Wanda then tells Severin to get lost and the biker and Wanda have sex in the back seat of the Rolls. Severin secretly spies into the Rolls while leaning on a tree up on the hillside. 

The happy marriage goes Noirsville because rather than a one night stand, Wanda likes the biker so much that she decides to take him home. The biker becomes the "stallion" for the mares at the villa. Severin, the poor schmuck, is relegated to getting beat up regularly and watching while the biker, Wanda, and the maids all have sex. But remember this is what he wants. How Noir is that?


The Leone filter

Dallamano takes a fetishistic sexploitation piece and turns it into high art. It's only "R" rated. The thing is, I just can't believe that alone is enough to sell it,  it had to really be the nudity and implied Sex. It was banned in Italy (who would have thunk it....). It didn't get released there until it was reedited into a different film. The Italian release now includes a murder, flashbacks from a jail cell, etc., etc. I guess Severin pays for being a perv, lol. In this original cut it's there are no repercussions since these are the choices they all made freely and they all lived happily ever after.

Regardless you can see the Sergio Leone influence in some of the framing, some extreme closeups and there is even a red filtered sequence much like the El Indio hallucination / rape scenes in For A Few Dollars More

Just watching it once, (and not having a domination / humiliation kink), is all you need to experience it as a visual artwork. I wouldn't need to own it. It's definitely worth a looksie for Noir completists. 7/10

I could see where Laura Antonelli fans or those inclined to get off on that particular kink may want to own a copy but, for an example of a Sexploitation Noir that was also a grindhouse masterpiece check out the grittier and actually X rated (barely) Fleshpots of 42nd Street (1973), that is the real gritty Noir deal made by the people who lived it. 

Venere in pelliccia is an artys fartsy Italian Transitional Noir about an overly rich weirdo, that was probably financed by overly rich inbred weirdos. Whatever floats your boat, lol.  

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