Immoral Tales, Part 4: Alain Robbe-Grillet

In this final part of their series inspired by Cathal Tohill and Pete Tombs’ Immoral Tales: European Sex & Horror Movies, 1956-1984, Kat and Samm discuss unclassifiable French director (and writer) Alain Robbe-Grillet. Known for his surreal and often controversial arthouse and erotic films, this episode focuses on three of his titles in particular, and centers on his collaborations with actor Jean-Louis Trintignant and his wife, Catherine Robbe-Grillet. The first of these, Trans-Europ-Express (1966), follows a director (played by Robbe-Grillet himself) who discusses the plot for an upcoming film he’d like to make while onboard the titular train. It concerns a man (Trintignant) smuggling drugs, or perhaps diamonds, across Europe, who is interrupted by a sadomasochistic affair with a strange woman (Marie-France Pisier).

The second of these is the sublime and surreal Glissements progressifs du plaisir (Successive Slidings of Pleasure, 1974). A young woman (Anicée Alvina) is imprisoned in a remote convent for murdering her lover, though the crime may have been consensual. Based loosely on Jules Michelet’s La Sorcière, this traverses sadomasochism, violence, and the occult, resulting in a singular and hypnotic work. Finally, they discuss Robbe-Grillet’s follow up, La jeu avec le feu (Playing with Fire, 1975) about a the botched kidnapping of a banker’s young daughter (Alvina again), who is “protected” by a detective (Trintignant) by being placed in a violent, otherworldly brothel where women are set ablaze.

Om Podcasten

Daughters of Darkness explores the wide world of cult cinema, focusing on everything from extreme exploitation to horror, erotica, and renowned arthouse films. Hosts Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan provide in depth discussions of various subgenres, directors, and cult movie personalities.