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Plucking the Daisy   B-

Home Vision Entertainment

Year Released: 1956
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Marc Allégret
Writers: William Benjamin, Roger Vadim, Marc Allégret
Cast: Brigitte Bardot, Daniel Grélin, Darry Cowl, Jacques Dumesnil, Robert Hirsch.

Review by Michael Scrutchin

Home Vision Entertainment, the video and DVD distributor behind the Criterion Collection, has recently started their own line of DVDs, beginning with a few films starring beloved French actress Brigitte Bardot. Prior to watching Plucking the Daisy on DVD, I had never seen any of her films, but I'm happy to say that this screwball romantic comedy is as good an introduction to the charms of Brigitte Bardot as I could have asked for. It's light, zany fun with plenty of funny misunderstandings and even a couple of striptease contests. Yeah, now I have the attention of all the guys who groaned at the phrase "romantic comedy."

Brigitte Bardot stars as Agnes Dumont, the naïve daughter of a pompous French official. Agnes has written a naughty book called Plucking the Daisy and is sent away from home because her father fears a scandal if word gets out that his daughter wrote such a thing. She hops aboard a train to Paris without a ticket. Lucky for her, a womanizing French journalist (Daniel Grélin) and his love-starved photographer (Robert Hirsch) save her from being fined. Of course, their intentions aren't exactly admirable. Daniel, for one, is a womanizer who's heartlessly stringing along a number of women and Agnes is next on his list.

Skipping over plot details I'll leave for the uninitiated to discover for themselves, I'll just say that in true screwball romp fashion the film builds misunderstanding upon misunderstanding and hilarity ensues. Agnes eventually performs in a striptease contest, wearing a mask, while Daniel, the man who says he loves her is watching in the audience. Daniel becomes intrigued by the woman up there on stage and falls for her, unaware that it's actually Agnes up there baring all for everyone to see.

Being a 1956 release (in black and white, no less), many would be surprised to discover that Plucking the Daisy features full frontal nudity. But, of course, the French always were on the cutting edge, weren't they? The nudity is tastefully handled, however, and never lingered on for more than a moment, teasing us with brief glimpses before quickly cutting away. It's played with the innocence of a kid catching his first peek at the female form by sneaking into a carnival peepshow.

Brigitte Bardot herself, however, doesn't reveal much (most of the nudity is from the other striptease contestants). But I think watching this film might be my first step to understanding why she has such a following and why she ranked #9 in Empire Magazine's 100 Sexiest Stars in Film History. Agnes is naïve and dimwitted, but Bardot plays her with an underlying attitude and class. Bardot has a great moment here pouting about her boyfriend cheating on her with herself. Priceless. Her supporting cast helps her carry along this silly farce with panache.

As the first in Home Vision's new line of DVDs, it's a tantalizing taste of things to come. While the disc is slim on extras, the transfer is beautiful and the presentation is very nice. As far as extra goodies, there are trailers for And God Created Woman, Plucking the Daisy, and The Night Heaven Fell, along with a Brigitte Bardot filmography, and a few Bardot postcards inside the case. It's a nice package, and the film is a good introduction to Bardot's undeniable charms. I'm still not sure Bardot is one of the sexiest stars in film history, but maybe watching Home Vision's recent DVDs of The Night Heaven Fell and Don Juan (or if Don Juan Were a Woman) will help convince me.

Review published 12.27.2001.

Follow Michael Scrutchin on Twitter or Letterboxd.

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