Surprisingly Good Suspenser
D. Diamond | Boston, MA United States | 10/22/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Joy House", aka "Les Felins", is a surprisingly good suspenser, with more than enough twists and turns to keep you intrigued until the clever ending. Unfortunately, the film has been transfered to video with less than loving care. A scratchy, brittle-looking print has been letter-boxed slightly, then squeezed to further accomodate a standard-size TV screen. (They don't tell you that on the video box.) The results are wierdly off-putting and less than inviting. Perhaps the DVD of this title is an improvement over the video release. If not, some smart film preservationist would do well to see that a cleaner, crisper print is available for any future transfer. (In the correct aspect ratio, please!) I have a sneaking suspicion that "Joy House" may be an even better film than one would gather from its current video release. It's got an extremely attractive cast, beautiful settings, and top-notch craftsmen working behind the camera. Thankfully, the film never seems to take itself too seriously, moves at a good clip, and has an ending that's tension-packed and appropriately ironic. The only major drawback of the production might be its lack of color photography, otherwise it's almost comparable to Clement and Delon's earlier suspenser, "Purple Noon"... but not quite. Overall, "Joy House" is quite a good film, very entertaining, and, on the whole, worth purchasing, especially if you're a fan of Delon, Fonda, or the lesser-known Albright... just so long as you don't mind a video transfer that leaves a lot to be desired.(Good News! I've had a chance to compare the DVD with the VHS, and I'm happy to report that the DVD is pretty terrific, sound and picture wise. Everything you'd expect when you plunk your money down for a movie at home. A big, big improvement over the VHS version. Plus, there are two soundtracks on the disc: English and French. Only complaints: if you want to watch the film with its French soundtrack, there are no English subtitles to go with it, and, as someone else has noted, there are no DVD extras. But listen, if you're even halfway interested in seeing "Joy House", definitely, definitely watch the DVD edition and not that lousy VHS version.)"
Jane Fonda classic from Rene Clement
hudson | New York, NY | 07/29/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Finally, a proper transfer of this 1964 early Jane Fonda classic from noted French director Rene Clement. Koch Lorber has done a fantastic job of issuing this - it's in the proper aspect ratio, with what appears to be a new transfer, and they've provided the English language version as well as the French language version released in the country of origin (with optional English subtitles for that version!). Bravo!"
Spellbinding French crime thriller!
Rodney Luck | Greensboro, NC | 07/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Being a fan of Alain Delon, French New Wave films of the 60's and classic film noir was reason alone for watching this incredible movie. I recently viewed "Purple Noon" and fell in love with director Rene Clement's style and his eye for detail. He handles the most complex situations with such a creative flow that is visually striking. After reseaching his other films I came across "Joy House" with Alain Delon and Jane Fonda. The DVD is OOP and I had to spend quite of bit of money to be able to buy the film. I'm happy to say it was money well worth spent. I loved the movie! From the moment the credits appear in and out and from behind the scenery I was mesmerized. What starts out as a typical "man on the run from the mob" screenplay soon evolves into an almost gothic, melodramatic thriller with hints of macabre humor.
Alain Delon and Jane Fonda were at their youthful, hip, gorgeous BEST when this film was made. They both have great chemistry together and give excellent performances. They seem to be having so much "fun" with their characters and with the puzzle-like plot.
The transfer to DVD is very good. The beautiful black and white images are sharp and Clement's composition shots are breathtaking. The musical score is memorable and adds great eeriness and excitement to the scenes. This is a film that thrills you with it's suspense and yet has fun in a "campy" way with it's plot and characters. Watch out for those "TWO CRAZY WOMEN"!"
A New Wave-Gothic-Noir Soufflé
Michael C. Smith | San Francisco, CA United States | 11/19/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I remember seeing Joy House (Les Felins) when I was about fifteen and thinking it was a long and boring affair. Well time changes things and with luck a little sophistication comes with age.
Upon revisiting the film I found it a fun French-New Wave-Gothic-Noir romp along the Riviera at the height of the jet set age. The film is a mystery and my review will leave the plot just that for you (I hate so called reviews that are just a synopsis of a film and nothing else). I will say this much, Joy House is labyrinthine and delicious an well worth a visit down it's rabbit hole.
The cinematography in cinemascope black and white is crisp, sharp and glamorous. It shows off the lovely landscapes of the South of France at the same time, the twisted psyches of the three main characters.
Jane Fonda here in her French ingénue period is luscious and interesting. She gives one glimpses of where she is going in the near future as an actress. It is fun to watch her bubble and squeak as the freaky sex kitten Melinda. Alan Delon steams up the scene and the screen as Marc a hustler who gets more than he bargained for. Delon is just so much fun to watch. One of a few French actors of the 60's who translated to American audiences and made a splash in English language films. (This film was shot in English and can be watched in dubbed French as well). Here he is playing a variation on his role in Purple Noon, but that is not a bad thing since his Ripley was so much fun. Then there is Lola Albright as Barbara, a woman with more than just a little secret upstairs in the attic. Here is an actress who has been forgotten for the most part and I myself cannot recall any of her films. But her performance in this glittering soufflé is the nutty center of the film that fascinates. She is hard, sexy, dangerous, and yet as it turns out more vulnerable than her seemingly sweet cousin Melinda.
The whole thing is directed with style and flair by Rene Clement and served up with panache and a wink.