CANNON MONTH: Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1981)

“We are not making an X-rated picture,” said executive producer and Cannon co-master of madness Yoram Globus. “This will be a cult film. Nudity depends on how you shoot it.”

Star Sylvia Kristel said, “Just Jaeckin and I have been persecuted by this sort porn criticism. I don’t want to go through the same nightmare as I did after Emmanuelle.”

And yeah. Why else would you make Lady Chatterley’s Lover?

Sure, this bombed in theaters, but it would go on to a video and cable life that didn’t seem like it would ever end. I can remember all through school, the whisper of Lady Chatterley’s Lover inspired nervous laughter and knowing glances and blushing. It was literally shorthand for sex.

And Kristel became important for young boys who weren’t interested in the teen stars we were told to like. Or am I just talking about me?

As for the movie, look, it’s a mannered book and a somewhat mannered take on the material and it’s nowhere near what we thought it was going to be. That would be Young Lady Chatterley 2.

Sir Clifford Chatterley (Shane Briant, who was in Hammer’s Demons of the Mind, Straight on Till Morning, Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell) has been injured in the war to end all wars, leaving him crippled and — even worse — unable to perform for his wife. He permits her — and maybe even encourages her — to have numerous affairs to produce him an heir. Yet he has an issue when the man she falls for is their groundskeeper Oliver Mellors (Nicholas Clay from Excalibur), a commoner, and that’s when this situation goes wrong due to classism.

With production design by Anton Furst (the man who designed Gotham for Tim Burton); a script by Jaeckin, Marc Behm (who somehow wrote both Help! and Hospital Massacre) and Christopher Wicking (who was behind Scream and Scream AgainCry of the Banshee and Dream Demon) and the strange idea that this was almost directed by Ken Russell and this is a Cinemax After Dark movie that you can return to and still see something of value in it.

Who am I kidding? I love everything that ever aired after 1:05 AM on Cinemax.

Also: people have sex in a filthy chicken coop that had to have smelled bad, but I guess if you get a shot at Sylvia Kristel, you don’t worry about catching bird flu.

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