Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 5th, 2006
Theatrical Release Dates: France, 1974
Director: Jess Franco
Writer: Marius Lesoeur
Cast: Lina Romay, Martine Stedil, Nathalie Chape, Roger Darton
DVD Released: 2005
Approximate Running Time: 77 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
DVD Release: X Rated Kult DVD
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (Germany)
Retail Price: $29.95
A wealthy central American businessman is robbed of his priceless diamonds by a gang of thieves wearing white masks. During the getaway the ring leader of the diamond heist kills his accomplices and disappears with the diamonds. Shirley Fields is the jealous type and she has just found out that her boyfriend Perry has been cheating on her. She kills him and is sent to prison. It is widely believed that Perry was the mastermind behind the diamond heist and that Shirley killed him not out of jealously. She killed him so that she could have all the diamonds to herself. Now in prison Shirley must watch her back as there are several individuals who will do whatever its takes to make her tell them where the diamonds are.
Women Behind Bars is equal parts diamond caper and WIP film. The direction is not as flashy as your typical Franco film with many shots coming off flat. The story also feels like a mish mash of ideas and even though the film is only 77 minutes in length it feels padded. The film takes place in what is referred to as a prison when it really looks like a well guarded estate. The films main flaw comes form its lack of budget and this is most evident in the lack of locations in the film. Franco tries to explain what is going on through narrations instead of opening things up with more scenic locations.
The story even by Franco standards is pretty much by the books and there are very few surprises along the way. There is plenty of nudity and of course torture in this one with a scene in which Shirley played by Lina Romay is given electro shocks through her vagina. This film is also filled with several red herrings which all lead to one bizarre twist ending that comes out of left field.
Several of Franco’s regular actors’ like Lina Romay and Martine Stedil appear in this film and there are few times when what was going on felt like it was something I had seen from another Franco film. Daniel White’s score is repetitive and lacks the quality of his previous collaborations with Franco. Overall Women Behind Bars is a pedestrian affair that lacks any real direction and Franco disregard for WIP films formula makes this film one tedious affair.
Women Behind Bars is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The colors and flesh tones look accurate with a few minor instances of faded colors. Details are reasonably sharp through out as grain is kept to a minimum. Overall the source material used for this transfer is free of any major print defects and it is one of the better Franco transfers from X-Rated Kult to date.
This release comes with three audio options German, French and English. All three mixes are presented in a Dolby Digital mono. Unfortunately no English subtitles have been included for this release so I watched the film in English. The dialog is easy to follow and there were no problems with hiss, distortion or any other sound defect. Overall this audio mix is more then satisfactory.
Extras for this release include a German trailer for the film (No English Subtitles), a photo/ stills gallery and a trailer for Angel of Death 2: The Prison Island Massacre. Other extras include an alternate French opening credits and artwork/press materials. Rounding out the extras is a twenty five minute segment/interview with Jess Franco. During this segment he is shown the film and he talks about it while watching the film. This whole segment is in French with no English subtitles.
Women Behind Bars is a film that I can only recommend to hard core Francophiles who must own and see every one of his films. If you only have a passing interesting in Franco it is best if you skip this one and try one of his more accessible films like Venus in Furs or Vampyro Lesbos.