Laure (1976) by Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)


Laure is also known as Forever Emmanuelle and, unlike many of the films with "Emmanuelle" or "Emanuelle" in the title, it has a legitimate claim to be called a true Emmanuelle film. There is only one legal way that a film could be called "Emmanuelle" with two "m's" - it would have to be done with the permission of Emmanuelle Arsan, who personally owned the European and North American rights to use that name in a film title.

But who exactly is "Emmanuelle Arsan"? For years it has been thought to be the nom de plume of Marayat Bibidh, a Thai woman who was married to a French diplomat named Louis-Jacques Rollet-Andriane. This theory was substantiated most strongly by this very film, Laure, in which Mrs. Rollet-Andriane has a supporting role, under the stage name Emmanuelle Arsan. (She also appeared on other films as Marayat Andriane, most notably in The Sand Pebbles opposite Steve McQueen, as shown to the left.) Emmanuelle Arsan is also credited as the director of this film and the author of its screenplay, based upon an eponymous novel.

Case proven, right?

Maryat Bibidh


Not quite. Mrs. Andriane may have been the actress known as Emmanuelle Arsan in this film, but she was neither the author nor the director of this film, nor was she the author of the famous books "Emmanuelle" and "Laure." According to the producer of this film, she was simply the beard, and the real author of the Emmanuelle diaries was actually her husband, the diplomat, who was also the director of this film. He had to write the books under a pseudonym in order to insulate his softcore porn career from his career as a diplomat, and when the trail got too close to him, he found it ideal to claim that his wife was the author. After all, the novels were supposed to be first person accounts of a woman who was the wife of a diplomat, so she seemed to the world like the probable author of the stories.

The REAL Emmanuelle!

In the special features of the Laure DVD, producer Ovidio G. Assonitis finally reveals the true story. According to Assonitis, it was Louis-Jacques Rollet-Andriane who directed this film and who wrote the novel from which sprang his original draft of the screenplay, in both cases using the name Emmanuelle Arsan. His wife used the same name to perform in the film, making it seem as if she had also done the writing and directing.

Assonitis was having tea at Fox one day, and they expressed interest in doing another Emmanuelle film, saying they wished they knew how to reach the author of the original. Assonitis said, "No problem," found the Andrianes, got them to agree to their various roles in the project, and Fox came up with the money. Once filming began, there was a constant conflict between Assonitis and Rollet-Andriane. The diplomat/author was a notorious proponent of free love and wanted to use the film's script to advocate the philosophical case for the lifestyle of sexual abandonment. Assonitis was not interested, and knew that Fox would not be interested, in a dialogue-intense film which focused on boring speeches which justified having a variety of sexual partners to perform a variety of sex acts. He wanted to deliver a film in which those sex acts were actually portrayed. The two men fought over the film's final cut, and Rollet-Andriane became so frustrated by his inability to control the project that he finally asked to have his name removed from the credits.

The final output, whoever may be responsible, is a beautifully photographed film, shot entirely on location in the Philippines on a leisurely 14 week schedule, with a generous budget and a guaranteed US release, courtesy of Fox.

The plot:

Laure (Annie Belle) is a free spirit and the daughter of a preacher living in Manilla. Her vocation is to study social anthropology, at least when she can make the time between her sex acts. She chances to meet a young photographer (Cliver) out to document love with his camera, and they become an item. The anthropology institute run by her father is currently fascinated by an obscure tribe on a remote island that goes through some rebirth every year, hence having many lifetimes each lasting one year. Laure decides there must be an expedition to meet these people and experience the rebirth. Her expedition team consists of Emanuelle Arsan, a professor, and her photographer, who marries her before the trip. Everyone has sex with everyone else except the photographer, who only wants sex with Laure, but enjoys seeing his wife play around. The professor's wife (Michele Stark) is into the swing scene as well, but she is not allowed not make the journey because of her pregnancy.

The producers had originally hired the legendary Linda Lovelace for the part of Laure, but it didn't work out. After Deep Throat, Linda found both drugs and God, and God told her not to get naked in films anymore. Producer Ovidio Assonitis also spoke with God, who suggested he fire the bitch, which is how real-life lovers Al Cliver and Annie Belle got the lead roles. God apparently made the right call in this case because Annie Belle was not only delightful as a free spirit, but had real acting talent. Unfortunately, as she mentioned in another one of the DVD's excellent special features, she was an alcoholic, which probably kept her from a bigger career.

Linda Lovelace's version of the story is that she was originally shown the script for a mild R-rated film, which she agreed to do, although she was then engaged to be married and out of porn, because she had substantial debts and needed the $50,000 fee, which was a lot of money in the mid 70s. Lovelace and her husband-to-be flew to Rome to meet with the producer and the director and found that the script had been altered. "It went from a beautiful thing to pure sleaze," wrote Lovelace in her autobiography, "Ordeal." "It had me going to bed with twelve different people. It had me masturbating with camera lenses. Being with lesbians. Yecccchh!" After Linda refused to do the Laure part, the producer still wanted her name on the marquee, so the management team demoted her to the part of the pregnant wife, later played by Michelle Stark. According to Linda the Andrianes then suggested a foursome with Linda and her husband, with Louis-Jacques saying, "It's important that we all be with each other intimately." Both of the Rollet-Andrianes were interested in sex with Linda.  Linda managed to avoid the foursome but continued to present problems on the set, and finally wrote the writer/director "a short note complaining about the changes and saying that his writing talent seemed to be suffering in the tropical heat." Producer Assonitis asked her to apologize for her remarks to Rollet-Andriane, she refused, and he fired her on the spot.

Many people have suggested that Linda's accounts of the past are not completely reliable, so there is no telling whether we can rely on her memories of this film. Her account certainly does make some sense in the context of the struggle between Assonitis and Rollet-Andriane for control of this script. Presumably Lovelace had originally been pitched a first draft prepared by Rollet-Andriane in which people talked about the relationship between sex and spiritual beauty, but was finally expected to perform in the Assonitis version, in which the talking was replaced by the actual sex.

Lovelace must have known who the Rollet-Andrianes were, but I can only surmise that she had been bound by a strict confidentiality agreement not to disclose their identities, because she writes only that she was propositioned by "the director and his wife," and never mentions either of them by name. She does make it completely clear in both of her bios ("Ordeal" and "Out of Bondage") that the writer/director of Laure was a man, so it had been firmly established in 1980 (the publication date of "Ordeal") that Marayat was not the auteur. By the way, the official "outing" of Louis-Jacques Rollet-Andriane seems to have occurred way back in the 1960s, even before the first Emmanuelle movie was made. Joe Bob Briggs pointed out in his 2002 review of The Sexual Life of Catherine M and his 2001 review of Emmanuelle in Space:

"After all, the French not only came up with "The Story of O" in the fifties, but the novel 'Emmanuelle' by Emmanuelle Arsan in the sixties, which is supposedly a true account of this French wild woman who hung out in Thailand with her incredibly understanding diplomat husband, who didn't care who she went to bed with because he believed in "free love," and a bunch of other rich French people who lived in Southeast Asia and liked to do two things: a) have sex, and b) make long boring speeches about the meaning of sex.

De Gaulle himself hated 'Emmanuelle' so much that he tried to get it banned, and in the course of defending it the publisher had to admit that there was no Emmanuelle Arsan and that the book had been written by a guy named Rollet-Andriane.

De Gaulle never got the book banned, but by the time the film version came out in the early seventies, the new French president, Georges Pompidou, tried to get the movie banned."

Despite the revelations from that first censorship attempt some 40 years ago, and despite Lovelace's clear identification of the director of Laure as a man, all reference books and all online sources continue to identify Marayat Andriane, not her husband, as the real author of the Emmanuelle books, perhaps because "Emmanuelle Arsan" is identified as the writer, director, and co-star of this film, and it is Marayat who actually appears on screen using that name.

Laure (1976)


  • Severin has again done a wonderful job on restoring a lost film of merit. You can obtain it from Rare Licensed DVDS now. Click on the picture for info.

  • Special features include an interview with Annie Belle and one with producer Ovidio Assonitis, plus an image gallery with more nudity.


Michelle Stark, Maryat Andriane (as Emmanuelle Arsan), and Annie Belle all do full frontal and rear nudity.


The Critics Vote ...

  • There are no major reviews online.


The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 4.6/10, based upon an insignificant number of votes
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.

Our 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. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. 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-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • 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.


The total package is a high C+: a beautifully photographed softcore film perfectly remastered, with great special features, a fascinating back story, and nudity from the woman whose life inspired the Emmanuelle books. If you have any interest in softcore, you should own it! (The film, viewed completely out of context, would be a C, an adequate softcore with less sex than usual but better photography and plenty of nudity.)

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