Innocents with Dirty Hands (1975) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Tuna's comments in yellow:

Innocents aux Mains Sales (1975), or Dirty Hands, is a French thriller. It is of the type that I most hate, where the director carefully leads you down a path, then changes all the rules, leads you down a new path, changes all the rules, etc.

Begin Spoiler

Romy Schneider is married to a much older man who drinks way too much, and has stopped having sex with her because of his heart attack. When she meets a handsome neighbor, the two end up in bed, and plot to kill the husband and live happily ever after with his money. A bit cliched, but so far, so good. They go through with the crime, where hubby passes out as usual, boyfriend makes plenty of noise at his typewriter as an alibi while Schneider whacks hubby over the head with a huge club. Boyfriend then quickly collects the unconscious husband, kills him, dumps him at sea, then takes Schneider's car to get away from it all for a few days. Schneider reports hubby's disappearance to the cops, who immediately decide she and the boyfriend killed the husband, but can't prove it. Then the car turns up at the bottom of a cliff, so boyfriend is also dead, and Schneider discovers that hubby cleaned out the bank account and sold her house, so she now has nothing. She also learned that hubby claimed a heart attack to explain his lack of passion, and that his actual problem was impotence. Ok, they still are within the realm of acceptability here.

Then dead hubby shows up. Ok, I smelled a rat, and no body had been discovered. Hubby, it seems, had seen her and boyfriend doing the nasty, and heard them plotting his demise, so he turned the tables, and killed the boyfriend. All this, it seems, has cured his impotence, and he has come back to pay her big money to use her like a whore. Then the cops suddenly decide that hubby actually masterminded everything. How? A game of bocce ball seems to have inspired them. Schneider lies effectively to the police, so he decides to trust her again.

Then the dead boyfriend shows up with a gun!

At this point, hubby dies of the heart condition he doesn't have, boyfriend is convicted of something serious (impersonating a corpse for all I know), and Schneider is expecting a suspended sentence for her part in this muddled mess.

End Spoilers

This is the sort of stuff MST 2000 is made of. For me, this is 121 minutes of witless plot manipulation, and a totally bogus story.

Scoop's comments in white:

This movie has a great opening scene. A handsome, idle adult man is flying a dramatic bird-shaped kite which is a bright red color, presenting a stark contrast against the blue sky. The kite plummets from the sky and lands square on the bottom of a beautiful naked sunbathing woman. The man follows the string, and assesses the situation from afar, hesitantly. The woman encourages him to come and take his kite. He does so, thus getting a look at her shapely rear when he removes the kite. She then turns around, showing him the rest of her body, and asks if there is anything else he would like.

If only the film had lived up to the lurid promise of that beginning. I didn't hate the film as much as Tuna did, but I was unimpressed by it. If you have seen a bunch of straight-to-video American "erotic thrillers" in the past decade, you have already seen this film, with its contrived and convoluted plot, artificial characters, logic holes, incomprehensible character motivations, and one-dimensional acting. Someone could remake this film scene-by-scene, line-by-line with a Baldwin brother and Kari Wuhrer, and if the idioms were translated properly into American English, you would never suspect for a moment that you were watching a 1975 French film. I don't know if that is praise or censure. Maybe a bit of both. Claude Chabrol's film must have been good enough, in a way, if it was still being imitated endlessly twenty years later. The downside is that neither the original nor any of the copies are really very good. They are simply grade-B erotic thrillers.

My general rule of thumb is that there cannot be a great movie with a resurrection, not even if Jesus is involved. This one has two resurrections and no deities, placing it out of the "A" game altogether. But I ask you this? How unpleasant can it be to watch a movie which begins with Romy Schneider stark naked in the first scene, and continues to get her naked throughout the picture. That ain't all bad.

I have told these stories before, but I'll repeat it for those who haven't followed the first eight years worth of these comments. I feel a special connection to Romy Schneider for several reasons.


Romy Schneider shows her breasts and complete rear nudity.

One of them is that I lived in Vienna for some time, and she is an important part of the Austrian part of me. Romy is to Austria as Melina Mercouri is to Greece, a highly successful symbol of the country's popular culture, a beautiful international presence, and a symbol of the country itself. Romy would be iconic in Austria even without the "Sissi" films, but the fact of the matter is that she was not only successful in international projects, and Austria's most famous acting export, but she also played Austria's most famous princess-turned-empress, Empress Elizabeth (Sissi), and she played this role not once but four times. Romy first assayed this role when she was a teenager in 1955. It made her famous and adored, and she kept coming back with sequels for eight years. Those pictures were Austria to the world, and Romy became the country's unofficial cultural ambassador.

The more important reason why I am stirred by Romy is that she started me along the path toward studying and archiving film nudity. She was the first woman I ever saw naked in a movie. It was the early part of 1963. I don't remember the exact date, but I remember that it was still wintry at night. I was a high school freshman when my friend, the Wily Duck, persuaded me to join him in an expedition to see Boccaccio '70, an arty, bawdy, European comedy with a little bit of nudity. The Wily Duck wasn't called that for nothin'. He was a crafty kid, and he had a plan. There were two theaters about a block apart. My mother would drop us off and pick us up at the one which was showing a revival of Darby O'Gill and the Little People. We would pretend to go to that movie, then skulk around to the other theater. If the theater showing Boccaccio '70 didn't let us in, we'd simply return and watch ol' Darby and his banshees. The plan went off without a hitch. The art house showing Boccaccio '70 never asked any questions. They sold us our tickets, we saw the entire film, and snuck back to the rendezvous with my mom, who didn't suspect a thing.

DVD info from Amazon

  • widescreen, various dubbing and sub-title options, but it is letterboxed, not anamorphic

  • no meaningful features. About ten stills and the original trailer.

  • very poor transfer. Looks old, damaged  and faded. Lots of interlacing and motion blur.

Boccaccio '70 wasn't bad at all. Much better than Innocents with Dirty Hands. I have subsequently read that the European version consisted of four separate stories from four different directors, but there were only three in the version we saw. We thought that two of the segments (directed by Fellini and DeSica, starring Anita Ekberg and Sophia Loren) were terrific - very entertaining and very sexy. But it was the third one, the boring one directed by Visconti, that I'll always remember, for it was in that segment that I saw my first naked woman on screen.

Romy Schneider.

On such innocent memories are an old man's nostalgia based.

The Critics Vote

  • no major reviews online

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, Tuna rates the film a D - not even acceptable to genre buffs. Scoop goes the next step up to C. Scoop's score means that genre buffs and nudity buffs can make it through the film, a typical contrived "erotic thriller" offering, very similar to the kajillions of straight-to-vids churned out every year in the USA. Or you may want to watch it because it was directed by Claude Chabrol, who has an excellent if somewhat undeserved reputation as The French Hitchcock. On the other hand, if you don't like this kind of film, stay away, because it has every possible flaw that these films can have.

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