La Curée  (1966) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

La Curée (aka The Game is Over) is one of those shallow Roger Vadim movies from the 60s in which he tries to make his then-new wife (Jane Fonda) act and look like his old wife (Brigitte Bardot).

The basic story isn't bad at all, although it should be pretty good since it was written by Emile Zola. Vadim took Zola's second Rougon-Macquart volume and transposed the story to the 1960s, weighing it down with a lot of trendy 60s baggage that must have seemed like High Style at the time, but seems like High Camp today. The set design looks like it might have been done by Peter Max, and there is sitar music in the background score. One of the main characters is actually studying Chinese. Ah, the cultural enlightenment of the 60s!


Fonda plays a beautiful trophy wife who is living in an elegant Parisian mansion, enjoying her husband's money and her stepson's dick. She thinks that she may be able to swing away with the money and the stepson, thus cutting the old fella out of the picture, but her husband is no fool. He earned his fortune with a brilliant, scheming mind. He deduces Fonda's relationship with his son, and out-guesses her plan.

  • He first cuts her off from her half of their money by making her believe that everything is tied up in his businesses. He offers her a choice - wait a couple years and double or triple her investment, or leave now with nothing. She chooses to leave, thinking that she'll be satisfied with the stepson's fortune.

  • Then, by pretending to be on the brink of ruin and in desperate need of his son's help, the father maneuvers his son into an engagement with the daughter of an investor.

Voila! Fonda is cut off from the father's money by the divorce, and from the son's by his marriage to another woman.

Game over.

The morality of the story is actually quite complex. Although the father was a scheming industrialist, he gave Fonda two chances to make amends. When he first discovered her infidelity, he said nothing, but tried to reignite her passion for himself. Fonda slept with him a couple times, but she then asked for a divorce, and never told him the truth, or offered even a shaky pretext for her request. Failing that ploy, the industrialist offered Fonda a chance to triple her money if she'd simply wait a few years before divorcing, all the while being able to continue her elegant life-style. Once again, she refused his offer, thinking she would get the son immediately. Only after offering these two chances, and finding her neither co-operative nor forthcoming, did he destroy her completely. In a sense, she was destroyed by her own lies and greed. (Typical of 19th century literature.)

It might have been a brilliant little movie filled with scathing humor if the project had been placed in the hands of a top filmmaker, but under Vadim's clumsy direction it is nothing more than a bagatelle. Vadim is the French John Derek, a man who seduced many beautiful women, married a bunch of them, and placed them in many films, but never really made anything worth watching. (Vadim had a child by Catherine DeNeuve, as well as marriages to Fonda, Bardot, and two others. Altogether, he had children with at least four different women). In 48 years of filmmaking (1950-97), he was unable to create a single film rated higher than 6.2 at IMDb. Here are the twelve that are remembered by enough voters to earn a score in the database:


  • Jane Fonda showed her breasts in many scenes, including a couple of times in clear light without obstructions.
  • There was a famous topless swimming scene filmed for this movie, but it appears nowhere on the DVD, not in the film proper nor in the special features. That seems like a lost opportunity, an item which should have appeared as a deleted scene.

Vadim wastes the first half of this film on Fonda's non-nude nude scenes - teasing the viewer with devices like having her pass behind a screen at the exact instant she drops her towel, or having her dance behind a gauze curtain while wrapped in another gauze curtain, thus making her naked on camera with absolutely nothing visible to the audience. One begins to wonder if Fonda actually had any nipples. Vadim even goes so far as to shoot a sex scene with Fonda and her lover in which the camera is pointed not at the lovers, but at their reflection in a conveniently juxtaposed distorting mirror - the kind used in a carnival fun house. And this is not a fleeting image. The mirror is photographed by the camera in such a way as to turn the lens, hence the viewer's eye, into a kaleidoscope. (Talk about 60s kitsch!)

DVD info from Amazon

  • In French with optional English subtitles

  • Widescreen format, but letterboxed, not anamorphically enhanced.

The second half of the film is better, but that is not because of Vadim's direction, which actually gets worse. He inserts a picture of a shifting liquid image like a lava lamp into every scene transition, backed by sitar music!

The reason the second half is watchable is because the story is Zola's, and the photography is Claude Renoir's. The respected cinematographer Renoir is the nephew of the great filmmaker Jean Renoir, and the grandson of THE Renoir, the impressionist painter.

The Critics Vote

  • no 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, this is a C-. It is a watchable movie because of an excellent basic story and some beautiful color cinematography. The faddish direction, enslaved to 60s chic, kept it from being a better film.

Return to the Movie House home page