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Image Entertainment presents
Joy House (Les Félins) (1964)

"Drive slowly chauffeur, we're in a hurry."
- Melinda (Jane Fonda)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: September 13, 2000

Stars: Alain Delon, jane Fonda, Lola Albright
Other Stars: Sorrell Booke, Carl Studer, André Oumansky
Director: René Clément

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:30m:58s
Release Date: August 08, 2000
UPC: 014381923025
Genre: suspense thriller


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AC+B- D-

DVD Review

From René Clément, the director of Purple Noon (remade as <B>The Talented Mr. Ripley) comes Joy House (Les Félins).

Marc (Alain Delon, Purple Noon), a playboy and hustler has a good thing going on the French Riviera until he has an affair with the wife of a gangster, who puts a contract out on his head. When a rich American woman, Barbara (Lola Albright) picks him up and hires him as a live-in chauffeur, he figures he has found a perfect place to take refuge. Unfortunately, there is more going on in the posh villa than he initially suspects. While Barbara makes advances towards him, her niece, the young Melinda (Jane Fonda), who plays servant to her aunt, also has her eye on Marc. Seeing an opportunity to benefit financially from the arrangement, Marc plays along with Barbara, which ruffles the feathers of Melinda, whose feelings are hurt by Marc's rejection. As we begin to discover some of the hidden elements of the situation, the plot becomes deeper and Marc's true involvement in the affair becomes revealed.

Clément has woven a story that twists and turns with every scene. As the story unfolds the complexity keeps the viewer guessing which way things will unfold. Marc's pursuit by gangster hitmen forms the backdrop of the film, but the relationship between the two women, their motives and the eventual outcome are what keeps the film intriguing. We are made to feel Marc's discomfort as he drives a glass topped Rolls Royce around town all the while trying to stay out of sight of his pursuers. Melinda's character develops perfectly throughout the film, and the arrangements within the house, and Clément's variety and choice of camera angles and framing devices like mirrored doors add interest to the exposition.

One thing that doesn't make much sense is the English title for the film (which is the title for the book that inspired the screenplay), even the UK title, The Love Cage, doesn't really do the film justice. The French title, Les Félins (The Cat-like Ones), makes much more sense in the end. A film of intrigue, double cross and irony, Joy House is a well constructed thriller that will have you guessing until the end.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Joy House is presented in its Franscope 2.35:1 aspect ratio, enhanced for 16:9 TVs. The contrast on the black-and-white image is somewhat hard, and the source suffers from a lot of print defects. There is a fair amount of aliasing present, and frame damage is not that uncommon. This one could use some serious restoration work. Although they are very obvious, I did find that my involvement in the story made me overlook a lot of these problems on first viewing, and it was only upon a technical reinspection of the transfer that the flaws were most evident.

Image Transfer Grade: C+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: Both French and English mono audio tracks are presented, though there are no subtitles available for either. There are sync problems in several spots with the English soundtrack, which also has a constant low level hiss and crackling throughout the film. However, despite these problems the score sounds very full, and I enjoyed Lalo Shifrin's jazzy '60s style soundtrack quite a bit.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Packaging: Snapper
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: No extras.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

An entertaining, intriguing film with a satisfying conclusion. If you like cat and mouse films where you won't know what's going to happen next, Joy House should fit the bill nicely. Recommended.

 


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