• Quiet Days In Clichy



    Released by: Blue Underground
    Released on: 1/25/2010
    Director: Jens Jorgen Thorsen
    Cast: Wayne Rodda, Paul Valjean
    Year: 1973
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    The Movie:

    Quiet Days In Clichy, based on two of Henry 'Tropic of Cancer' Miller's more risqué (and at one time, banned) works, is the story of Joey (Paul Valjean), a writer with no money and no real job prospects. Joey lives with Carl (Wayne Rodda), his roommate, a bit of a sex maniac with a thing for younger women.

    That’s really all you need to know, going in. Once we’re introduced to the characters, Joey and Carl basically screw their way through a pre-WWII Paris and indulge in a whole lot of wanton sex with pretty much any woman willing. Alone, in groups, or whatever, they don't really seem to care – they’re just out to get as laid as they can as frequently as they can, and they’re pretty successful at it.

    While the film isn't really a hardcore film per se, it comes pretty close at times and essentially the entire film is made up of one sex scene after another. There's not a lot to the story at all, and the performances are average at best (though some of that could be due to the dubbing), but there is still much to take in on a visual level (and no, I don't mean the gratuitous nudity – at least not just the gratuitous nudity). The framing and composition of the film is consistently very well done, and it maintains a fluid sense of graceful movement throughout its duration. There are random exceptions to this, close up shots during the sex scenes being a prime example, as they look like they may have been done with a handheld camera, but generally Quiet Days In Clichy’s high contrast black and white cinematography is moody, atmospheric and pleasing to look at.

    More structure to the storyline probably would have allowed a bigger audience to warm to it but then, it probably wouldn’t have been as in keeping with Miller’s original source material as it is. A fairly non-linear piece of film, it skips around in tone and structure just as its two central protagonists hop from one pair of open legs to the next. The acting is occasionally stilted but the characters look the part well enough and if no one is going to take home any awards for their performance here, they’re appropriately skuzzy and burnt out looking – in short, the various European performers employed here suit their roles.

    Charged with obscenity in May of 1970 though cleared shortly after in Federal Court, Quiet Days In Clichy has been suspiciously absent of any legitimate release since then – until Blue Underground rescued it from obscurity with a DVD release a few years ago. It now finds an unlikely new life on Blu-ray, something very few fans probably ever thought would happen given the deluge of mainstream pap available on the format compared to only the slight trickle of arthouse and cult titles making their way down the pipeline. This isn’t the classic some have made it out to be, it’s too flawed and too disjointed even if it does definitely feel like Miller’s material, but it’s certainly an interesting cult item and curio piece worth seeking out for fans of the late scribe’s work.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Blue Underground presents Quiet Days In Clichy in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition widescreen transfer taken from original vault elements. The black and white image is strong, and despite an abundance of grain and some mild print damage evident throughout, it shows good detail.

    The audio options are handled by way of a DTS-HD Mono track. The dialogue is clean and clear throughout and the score sounds quite good, the uncompressed track allowing you to further appreciate the instrumentation and vocals.

    Blue Underground has carried over a bunch of the extras from their standard definition DVD release. First up is 'Dirty Books, Dirty Movies: Barney Rosset on Henry Miller' which is an interview with Henry Miller's editor and publisher at the time the books were written and who did much to get them into print and even helped get the film made. Miller fans will appreciate the insight that Rosset is able to offer here and if it’s not always specific to the story told in the feature, it doesn’t matter. He’s got some interesting stories about what it was like working with the controversial writer.

    Country Joe McDonald is likewise interviewed in 'Songs of Clichy' and he seems to have had a good time working on the songs for the film and talks about his thoughts behind some of it here. Since his soundtrack plays such a major part in the mood and atmosphere that director Thorsen captures and maintains, fans of the picture will take some interest in this.

    The Final Word:

    Quiet Days In Clichy is definitely not for everyone, but Blue Underground has done a commendable job on its high definition presentation of this cinematic oddity. The fact that this film exists on Blu-ray at all is amazing enough, but in as strong a presentation as it receives here? A very good thing in deed, particularly if you’re a fan of Miller, whose books are usually softened down when adapted for the big screen.

    Click on the images below for full size screen caps!