The Lickerish Quartet (Radley Metzger / U.S.-Italy-West Germany, 1970):

Radley Metzger in the Abruzzi Mountains, a gracefully ribald conductor remembering BuŮuelís love of Sherlock Jr. The characters in search of an author are jaded aristocrats introduced commenting on the stag reel flickering before them, family night at the ancient castle. The American businessman (Frank Wolff) scoffs sardonically, his Italian wife (Erika Remberg) is paralyzed with ennui, her son (Paolo Turco) protests its crudeness, theyíre soon looking for a new novelty. At the carnival thereís a tawny daredevil (Silvana Venturelli), could she be the same woman they just watched trysting onscreen? Back in the castle the son dons cape and top hat for "the stage work before the lantern show," afterwards the blue movie is run through the projector only to somehow reveal the action from a different angle, the leasing ladyís face now obscured. From person to person Venturelli blithely goes, the blank object of desire turned active architect of desire: Wolff conquers his impotence with her on the library floor, the camera zooming in on magnified dictionary entries of "phallus" and "fuck" and "ecstasy"; for Turco itís a blend of the sacred and the profane on the verdant fields, serenaded by ululating Morricone knockoffs; Remberg makes her way through a maze of dungeons before returning to the screening room, thawing by the visitorís side. "Well, if we donít have the vitamins... thereís always the fantasy." A collection of sensations rewound and reshuffled, Metzgerís witty softcore arabesque is the full equal of such contemporaries as Loseyís Secret Ceremony, Rohmerís La Collectionneuse and Robbe-Grilletís Lí…den et AprŤs. Eros and Pirandello, the gallery of watchers being watched opens in the dark and ends in the dark, "in between itís just a game of hide and seek." Cinematography by Hans Jura.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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