|Dec 3 2008
It’s hard to believe a film as artful as Emmanuelle, with its soft focus cinematography and ethereal music, was rated X when it was released, but then you reach the halfway point and see a stripper smoking a cigarette without using her mouth and you understand why. Based on a character created by author Emmanuelle Arsan—aka Marayat Bibidh aka Marayat Rollet-Andriane—the first Emmanuelle movie was produced unsuccessfully in Italy in 1969. But five years later a ravishing Dutch actress named Sylvia Kristel, below, brought the role to life with a mixture of smoldering sexuality and angelic innocence. She and director Just Jaeckin helped make Emmanuelle into a French franchise, and a role actresses lobbied for the honor of playing. Despite seemingly nine-hundred sequels that resulted—including a Cinemax stint inhabited by bombshell American actress Krista Allen—the original remains the best. It is one of the highest grossing films in French cinema history. The poster was designed by Steve Frankfurt, and the U.S. version of the film opened today in 1974.