Joy House (Les Felins)
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"The French James Dean" Alain Delon (Fabio Montale, ) stars as Marc, a small-time con man on the run from a mobster. After seeking refuge in the mansion of the widowed Barbara (Lola Albright) and her curvaceous cousin, Melinda (Jane Fonda), Marc becomes trapped in the passionate snares of both women, who are full of deadly surprises.
Also Includes Added Bonus: French language version of Joy House ("Les Félins) with optional English subtitles
Besides showcasing Barbarella-era Jane Fonda in one of her sexiest roles, Réné Cléments thriller Joy House offers enough psychological suspense to count as horror. In it, Marc (Alain Délon of Purple Noon) agrees to indentured servitude to two women, Melinda (Jane Fonda) and her Aunt Barbara (Lola Albright) who hide him from police following a crime he has committed. Though the ladies appear from the outset to have renounced corruption for a life of monastic charity, their catfights over Marc result in his being trapped inside their castle, glamorously located in the French Riviera. The harder he tries to escape, the more he realizes he is trapped in the web woven by these two spider-like villainesses. Joy Houses suspense is wrapped in elegance. The stars, its settings, and the films score by Lalo Schifrin lifts it out of the B-movie, Hammer-film haunted house tale category. Like so many classic horror movies, most of the action takes place in a grand chateau, allowing Joy House to revel in its sense of claustrophobia. This recalls Mario Bava films, such as Black Sabbath and Hatchet for the Honeymoon, though the sexual tension implicit to Joy House is more akin to Jean Rollins movies, which focus as much on physical attraction as impending death. It also recalls Mommie Dearest or All About Eve, in which an elderly female competes with the younger for attention. Mirrored closet doors and reflective furniture throughout the mansion, as well as car rear-views, emphasize deception thematically in an especially Giallo way. However, there is zero gore here, and this film shies away from direct violence in favor of the implied, which is more in line with its sexually deviant undertow. --Trinie Dalton
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Top customer reviews
Alain Delon, in a kind of amalgam role of James Dean and Dirk Bogarde, is the bad boy, on the run from a crime family. He finds employment as chaffeur to the ladies.
But will he drive that Rolls-Royce right to the airport, when the time is right?
In the previous decade, perhaps Barbara Stanwyck and Natalie Wood might have taken on the characters of Barbra and Melinda, but I can think of any two actresses who could do better than Albright and Fonda in this offbeat thriller; though I found Fonda's acting just a tad mannered, at times.
The beat is beautifully underscored by a jazz-infused soundtrack by Lalo Schiffrin, who emphasizes [what I hear as] a snaking upright bass line; clean but insistent and recurringly as softly as the house cat who watches and retreats throughout.
Upon revisiting the film I found it a fun French-New Wave-Gothic-Noir romp along the Riviera at the height of the jet set age. The film is a mystery and my review will leave the plot just that for you (I hate so called reviews that are just a synopsis of a film and nothing else). I will say this much, Joy House is labyrinthine and delicious an well worth a visit down its rabbit hole.
The cinematography in cinemascope black and white is crisp, sharp and glamorous. It shows off the lovely landscapes of the South of France at the same time, the twisted psyches of the three main characters.
Jane Fonda here in her French ingénue period is luscious and interesting. She gives one glimpses of where she is going in the near future as an actress. It is fun to watch her bubble and squeak as the freaky sex kitten Melinda. Alan Delon steams up the scene and the screen as Marc a hustler who gets more than he bargained for. Delon is just so much fun to watch. One of a few French actors of the 60's who translated to American audiences and made a splash in English language films. (This film was shot in English and can be watched in dubbed French as well). Here he is playing a variation on his role in Purple Noon, but that is not a bad thing since his Ripley was so much fun. Then there is Lola Albright as Barbara, a woman with more than just a little secret upstairs in the attic. Here is an actress who has been forgotten for the most part and I myself cannot recall any of her films. But her performance in this glittering soufflé is the nutty center of the film that fascinates. She is hard, sexy, dangerous, and yet as it turns out more vulnerable than her seemingly sweet cousin Melinda.
The whole thing is directed with style and flair by Rene Clement and served up with panache and a wink.
Alain Delon made this film when he was young and at his most beautiful, so the film has eye candy.
Most recent customer reviews
The story is intruguing and mysterious as well.
This isn't Barbie-rella Jane-a-della but Fonda-kitten getting her claws into young Delon!Read more