Lady Chatterley's Lover (1981) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Notes on this and a couple of other Sylvia Kristel films which don't have separate pages:

You are going to form a an impression if I tell you that this version of the classic D.H. Lawrence story stars Sylvia Kristel, was directed by the same guy who directed Emmaneulle, and was produced by Golan and Globus. That impression is probably a lot like the one I formed: cost-cutting production values, bad actors delivering dialogue only as a pretext to move toward the next sex scene. Surprisingly, that impression is not entirely correct. Oh, I'm not going to tell you that this is the definitive screen rendering of the memorable novel, but it has some real strengths.

First, Nicholas Clay was a damned good actor. He played the gamekeeper, and the production was lucky to get a guy with his looks and talent. He was a respected stage actor with no cred as a movie star at the time this film was made, but if Chatterley had been made a year later, Clay would not have been available. He established himself as an internationally recognized film actor in two other films made in the very same year this movie was released. He played the most memorable role of his career that year, as Lancelot in Excalibur, John Boorman's version of the King Arthur story. Clay also starred opposite Richard Burton that year as Tristan in Lovespell, Tom Donovan's version of the Tristan and Isolde story. Apparently, Clay really established himself that year as the go-to guy for the film versions of important literary characters drawn from the noble but doomed romance section of the library. For reasons which I never quite understood, his career never took flight and he died quite young, but there's no question that he brought an unexpected level of professionalism to this film.

Here is a tribute/obit written about Nick by a friend of his, which gives the man his due more thoroughly and eloquently than I am able.

Second, Sylvia Kristel seems adequate as Lady Chatterley. Yeah, I know. I can't believe I typed that. Since Kristel has shown no similar gift for the English language in films made before and after this one, and since the dialogue matches her lip movements, I suppose that she delivered her lines in English and they were post-dubbed by an English actress supplying an appropriate accent. Unfortunately, there was nothing that could be done to dub in any additional facial expressions, so Kristel plays the entire movie with the only expression she owns - the one that matches the vacant ritual deference of a death-numbed mortician meeting his hundredth bereaved widow. (Right)

In addition to good performances from Clay and Kristel's dubber, the film looks quite good!

Of course, it failed miserably at the box office. I don't know why the producers expected otherwise. There is no target audience. D.H. Lawrence lovers aren't going to rush out to see a Dutch softcore actress play Lady Chatterley, and neither are the lovers of European arthouse movies. Those who seek good softcore porn are going to seek elsewhere, because they will find the film's literary pretensions to be tedious.

So just who is the audience for this film? Maybe Sylvia Kristel fans?

I don't know ...

... but I know it isn't me. It just bored the living daylights out of me. The film did surprise me because it isn't cheesy, but it is totally lifeless, and I found watching it to be an arduous task. To be honest, I would have preferred cheesy.


Recycling Sylvia.

I have been working on her volume in the Encyclopedia of Film Nudity, and I noticed something interesting.


Here is a capture of a scene from a well known 1981 film: Here is a capture of a scene from an obscure 1985 film:

 Private Lessons. (Click to enlarge.) The Big Bet. (Click to enlarge.)


  • No features except the original theatrical trailer
  • there is a full screen (full frame) version, and a
    widescreen version anamorphically enhanced for 16x9 screens



    Full frontal and rear nudity from both Nicholas Clay and Sylvia Kristel

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews on file

Miscellaneous ...


The People Vote ...

  • Box office?? IMDb claims that there was a theatrical release in the States in May of 1982, but I could find nothing to confirm that.
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, it's a C-. It's not really sexy enough to satisfy softcore lovers, and it's not sophisticated enough for please D.H. Lawrence fans, but it is much better than you would expect, given the same director and star as Emmanuelle. It will appeal to Kristel fans.

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