The Oldest Profession (1967)

aka e Plus vieux metier du monde
Article 2868 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-15-2009
Posting Date: 6-20-2009
Directed by Claude Autant-Lara, Mauro Bolognini, Philippe de Broca, Jean-Luc Godard, Franco Indovina, Michael Pfleghar
Featuring Michele Mercier, Enrico Maria Salemo, Gabriele Tinti
Country: France / West Germany / Italy

The history of prostitution is presented in six tales.

You know, it takes time to watch a movie. And when you watch a movie a day and you find the print of the movie you were watching has a fatal flaw, you don’t often have time to watch another movie. That’s my excuse for covering this one, despite the fact that my print is missing one whole episode. That might not have been fatal in a movie in which only certain segments contain fantastic content if the missing segment had been one lacking said content, but alas, I’m missing the one segment that takes place in the future directed by Jean-Luc Godard, reportedly the best one of the bunch. But I’m in no mood to watch another whole movie, so I’m reviewing it as is, with the addendum that I’m going to hunt for a more complete copy, and should I find one before I post this review, I’ll add the review of that segment as an addendum.

So what can I say about this episodic comedy about prostitution? It’s mostly lame. The prehistoric section (which has no prehistoric creatures and nothing to recommend it), the Roman section, and the one in Modern-day Paris are all forgettable and of little importance. The other two sections (one in revolutionary France and the other during the Gay Nineties) come off better and actually do a good job of giving us similar but opposite stories; in the first, a customer pulls a trick on a prostitute to keep from paying, and in the other, the prostitute tricks a customer (who she discovers is a banker) into marrying her. These two are good, but not great. Still, it’s the Godard piece that is supposed to be the highlight here. Let’s hope I have an addendum to add to this in the near future.

ADDENDUM – Well, I found a copy with Godard section, and it is easily the best of the bunch. It’s the one that shows the most creativity, and its view of the future is somewhat similar to the one in ALPHAVILLE. It mainly involves a time when visitors supply robot prostitutes for its guests, but a man wants a replacement because his can’t talk, but he finds that robots are a bit specialized, and the one that can talk isn’t able to… well, I won’t give anything away on this point. The weirdest touch has people eating from aerosol cans (there goes the ozone layer), and the big question I have is this: why is the character who is supposed to be human the one who most talks like a robot? It’s a good segment, but not great, and overall, the movie is on the weak side.

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