Gwendoline is a film I wanted to check out because… y’know, Tawny Kitaen (above centre). She was the better half of Whitesnake’s David Coverdale for a while after appearing in his band’s videos in the late ’80s. Here, she’s similarly attired.
Before I get into the plot, such that it is, rest assured this is the full version of the movie, at 105 minutes long, whereas the US theatrical version was just 89 minutes, and was given the crazy-long title of “The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak“, so brevity would certainly have helped, but then overlong titles like that were part of the ’80s – see the Indiana Jones titles, for example.
With outdoor filming that takes place during the film in the Philippines and Morocco, Tawny is captured by baddies and sold as a “blonde”, even though it’s quite clear she’s a redhead! ….but then I wasn’t expecting sharp scripting.
However, she’s saved by a man called Brent Huff, whilst also tipping his hat to a bevvy of Chinese women! He’s basically like the Ryan Reynolds of his day, but it’s not surprising, based on this film, as to why neither had a particularly illustrious movie career.
There’s a baddie appearing briefly who’s a Bruce Lee-a-like, and in the mid-section, they also go for a trip across the desert, but it takes until the one hour point in the film before it gets to the ‘meat’ of the movie which is everything that the cover promises. From then on, they get to what looks like a female-only slave/prison enclave where clothes are not really required… and clearly, hair isn’t either, as they’re all bald! (see above)
They’re also sex-starved, so when they get wind that Brent’s in town, all hell breaks loose!
Gwendoline is obviously trying to capitalise on the success of Flash Gordon – and is also based on a comic strip, this time it’s John Willie‘s The Adventures Of Sweet Gwendoline – but never managed those cult heights at all, and it really should just cut out a load of the first half and get on quickly to the slave place. I guess that’s where the US version’s shorter running time will help if that’s a better edit – I’m not in a rush to see that version, though.
Plus, I have to ask – there’s a fair smattering of shameless toplessness, but then in 2019, generally, it seems okay for men to be doing that but not women. Why?
Oh, and Jean Rougerie, as D’Arcy, is superb… superb…
Finally, Gwendoline has been remastered with a 4K master, and for the most part, it looks very good indeed, but occasionaly there’s a bit of shimmering on the original print, and the even though the lip-sync is fine, the dialogue does feel slightly out of place. Maybe because it’s too clean an image, now?
Additionally, this comes from the director of Emmanuelle and the 1981 version of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. I only saw the former of those, and that really was a load of overhyped soft-core nonsense.
The extras are listed below, and despite the fact there’s only a ridiculous six chapters, the amount of extras is worthy of an Arrow release:
- The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak (88:30): First up is that aforementioned US version of the movie!
It’s about 16 minutes shorter and is the same quality as the main version. In addition, it takes 50 minutes to get to the slave/prison rather than 60. However, while the main version is a mere six chapters, this one’s only five!
- The Butterfly Effect (13:44): A 2019 interview with writer/director Just Jaeckin, and this is the first of three interviews in French with English subtitles. I’ll be honest and say I haven’t gone into these particularly, although I have watched in full the English-language interviews.
- Bondage Paradise (33:56): Interviews with costume and concept designers and comic book artists Francois Shuiten and Claude Renard.
- The Perils of Production (18:08): interview with executive producer Jean-Claude Fleury.
- Gwendoline’s Travels (14:09): an interview with production designer Francoise Deleu. The first interview in English, and she talks about building the incredible slave/prison sets which involved making polystyrene stones.
- Blu-ray promos with Tawny Kitaen and Brent Huff (6:26): They’re both talking about the movie, and I hope I look as good as them when I get to that age! And as Brent says before making this film, he was making Burger King commercials, she says she was working at Burger King!
- The Last Temptation of Just (24:22): a 2006 interview with Just Jaeckin. This one’s in English, which is a plus, but as it’s not a new extra, it’s not in HD.
- Dr Kinsey (43:20): Interview with John Willie, creator of Sweet Gwendoline. This is purely an audio interview, and in English.
- Revealing Tawny Kitaen Photospread for French Lui Magazine (0:00): Ooh, la la! Pictures as featured in the 2006 interview above, where Tawny and others have their top lady parts exposed in five pictures!
- Trailers One trailer in HD and 2.35:1 (1:34), with another in SD and cropped to 1.85:1 and is dialogue-free (2:12).
- Audio commentaries: Two here: one from writer/director Just Jaeckin, and one from both Tawny Kitaen and Brent Huff.
The package is absolutely gorgeous and includes six art cards as shown below.
The main menu features the front cardboard cover showing Tawny Kitaen, with a piece of the theme and animated butterflies, there are subtitles in English and… 6 chapters! Yes, not 16 or 26, but SIX! WTF?! They’re not paying by the chapter!
Gwendoline Special Edition is out now on Blu-ray Special Edition.
(click on each one for the full-size version)
Running time: 105 / 89 minutes
Distributor: Severin Films
Released: December 2nd 2019
Sound: DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English SDH
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Panavision)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Just Jaeckin
Producer: Serge Laski
Screenplay: Just Jaeckin, Jean-Luc Voulfow
Comic Strip: The Adventures of Sweet Gwendoline (by John Willie)
Music: Pierre Bachelet
Gwendoline: Tawny Kitaen
Willard: Brent Huff
Beth: Zabou Breitman
The Queen: Bernadette Lafont
D’Arcy: Jean Rougerie
Tom: André Julien
Man in Sailor Hat Smoking Cigar: Just Jaeckin (uncredited)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.