Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Pact With The Devil (1967)

A Pact With The Devil • Zmluva s diablom (1967)
A Pact With The Devil • Zmluva s diablom (1967)
Czech New Wave
Genre: Comedy
Director: Jozef Zachar
Starring: Sylvia Turbová, Ivana Karbanová , Marta Rašlová, Viera Šimeková , Zuzana Kocúriková
Language: Czech, Slovak
Duration: 89 min.
Rating: 7.6
Summary:
Five students are unjustly suspected of trying to lose their virginity before their graduation. But when the five girls try to defend themselves, they find out that nobody believes them, so they decide to accomplish what they have been falsely accused of...
A Pact With The Devil is a film directed by Jozef Zachar from a story and script by Slovak playwright Ivan Bukovcan. It was Zachar's first feature film, after starting his career in short documentaries and TV movies.

It follows five high-school senior girls, who because of a prank, are falsely accused of signing a pact with the devil to lose their virginity before they graduate. Neither their teachers nor their parents believe them to be innocent, so together they decide that they might as well do what they have been suspected of. Perhaps not exactly an original tale of adolescent hijinks, but it has plenty of humorous moments and that familiar freewheeling Czech New Wave style.

A Pact With The Devil • Zmluva s diablom (1967)

It also has a lovely young cast, most of whom would later become successful actresses. Most recognizable is Ivana Karbanová, as Marcella, a character who is more or less the same as the one she played in Daisies. At one point she even places a floral crown around her head before tossing it aside in homage to that film. She's joined by raven haired Zuzana Kocúriková, the shy and timid Viera Strnisková née Šimeková, along with blonde bombshell Marta Rašlová, and Sylvia Turbová in her first screen appearance.

The film starts out strong, aided by yet another brilliant soundtrack from versatile master composer Zdenek Liška, a far cry from the medieval or folk inspired music he is famous for, this one is a jazzy upbeat number that fits right into the Italian and German sex-comedies of the era; a genre that the director would continue with, including going on to make several films starring grind-house sex symbol Edwige Fenech, after fleeing for Germany in the wake of the Prague Spring.

After the opening credits, we see the parents of the five young ladies called to the school to meet with the teachers where the evidence, some scandalous anonymous photos as well as the signed pact, are revealed. Of course, in front of the teachers all of the parents deny it saying "that's not my little girl", but upon returning home, each of them deal out punishment to their daughters in a variety of hilarious ways.

A Pact With The Devil • Zmluva s diablom (1967)

The story loses some traction when it eventually splits up into four threads, as the girls separate to accomplish the deed in their own way. The sum is definitely greater than the parts here, but it's not without some highly amusing moments either. If you liked Daisies, you will enjoy what is essentially a reprise of it in the segment that follows Karbanová, she flirts with older men, outrageously teasing and taking advantage of one poor guy (Vladimír Mensík) who offers her a ride. There's also a wonderfully filmed striptease performed by Strnisková towards the end, set to a torch song by Hana Hegerová.

It isn't quite essential viewing, but is still a great deal of fun. Much tamer than its better known Italian or German counterparts, but every bit as sexy. Also a little bit cynical and slightly tragic as can be expected from a Slovak production, but it's mostly light and airy and most importantly always feels genuine.
Bonjour Tristesse
A Pact With The Devil • Zmluva s diablom (1967)

A Pact With The Devil • Zmluva s diablom (1967)

A Pact With The Devil • Zmluva s diablom (1967)

A Pact With The Devil • Zmluva s diablom (1967)

A Pact With The Devil • Zmluva s diablom (1967)

A Pact With The Devil • Zmluva s diablom (1967)

A Pact With The Devil • Zmluva s diablom (1967)

A Pact With The Devil • Zmluva s diablom (1967)

4 comments:

Michaël Parent said...

Interesting! I'll put it on my list! I loved Daisies and the reminiscent of it in this one and the theme looks good.

d_4 said...

Mmm After Daisies maybe. It does sound fun, and I'm still pretty sure I'll enjoy Daisies.. In time!

FrontRoomCinema said...

I probably wont find this or ever see it, but it looks like something might actually enjoy...

Bonjour Tristesse said...

I'm certainly glad you appreciate Liska's score! Perhaps he is (was) a great talent. I played the main titles segment you posted and I did not like the music. While trenchant and bold I found it to be grating and "farty" - too much like the frequently annoying work of German composer Peter Thomas. Thank God (IMHO) the Italians opted to have the film re-scored by the great Carlo Savina. His replacement soundtrack is one of the finest examples of the 1960s orchestral pop/rock/jazz fusion style, and the glorious and unexpected CD release by Spanish label Saimel is one of the highlights of 2011 for all connoisseurs of Retro Euro Cult film music. The Italian title of A PACT WITH THE DEVIL is LA SCUOLA DELLE VERGINI (SCHOOL FOR VIRGINS) - the same title as the CD release (Saimel 3998934). My heartfelt recommendation: buy it!

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