Don't Touch The White Woman (1974) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and an anonymous reader

"Don't Touch The White Woman" is one of the strangest movies I've ever seen, and a reasonable candidate for the worst ever.

It is a re-telling of the legend of General Custer except:

  • It takes place in 1973.
  • The American President is Nixon.
  • The movie is in French
  • General Custer, famed "yellowhair", is played by Marcello Mastroianni
  • The battle of Little Big Horn, and in fact the entire American West, takes place in a construction site in modern Paris, with all the buildings - cathedrals, bakeries, and sidewalk cafes - visible in the background.
  • The director is famed counter-culture icon Marco Ferreri. That's why I got the movie. Not because he's a good director, but because his movies are always filled with nudity and depravity. But not this one! Catherine Deneuve is exceptionally beautiful here, even by her own high standards, and has sex, but does so fully dressed! Bah, humbug.
All I can say is this is some strange attempt at humor and satire. It is meant to show how the USA's westernization was accomplished through morally bereft means, but that's a mighty weighty topic to attack with this Catskills level of humor. It's kind of like Slappy White playing Hitler.


nothing significant, one anonymous woman
I don't know about you guys, but to me, there's nothing better than totally humorless people trying to be funny, except really strange humorless people trying to be funny. This is like making a biopic of Jim Carrey and casting Juliette Binoche as Jim.

Really an exceptionally bad film. It is a complete waste of time, and absolutely do not buy it, but it is very much worth renting and watching for ten minutes just because you simply won't believe your eyes. I'm glad I did it just for the experience. Your reaction will give you a new understanding of the word "aghast".

Reader's comment in yellow

I was lucky (or unlucky) enough to see this truly odd film in a first-run theater in Nice the week it was released. Although my French wasn’t nearly as fluent then, it was plenty good enough to recognize that I was witness to a marvelously surreal event. To make sure, I would occasionally glance at my fellow-patrons - yep, they were just as slack-jawed as I. (To no great surprise the audience numbered about 20 in this 500 seat theater - the film had been playing about four days and the word was very definitely out.)

What drove me into the movie-house was probably the same impulse that made you pop it in your VCR - and I was just as disappointed to discover Deneuve stayed clad. After this apparent train-wreck of a movie was over I became mildly fascinated to discover how it came about. This is some of what I read/was told/remember.

Ferreri, coasting on the bounce from "La Grande Bouffe" could basically do what he wanted. One story is he complained to Mastroianni that he had nothing ready to film and Mastroianni said in effect C’mon, Marco, you’ll never have a chance like this again - you can take the worst piece of shit script out of your trunk and they’ll let you do it! Ferreri confessed he’d always wanted to do a Western and had an old unfinished script. Perfect, said Mastroianni but he couldn’t be in it; he had about 5 pictures lined up and wouldn’t have time to go to the US. So Ferreri said fuck it (or the Italian equivalent), we’ll shoot it here. Whaddya mean, here? They were in cab passing through Les Halles. (You know, Les Halles? Of course you do. Paris’s centuries old meat market district where we all used to go at 2 am in our black existential turtlenecks for onion soup and frītes with the ouvriers…)

Mastroianni: Whaddya mean you’ll shoot it here?? In the meat market??

Ferreri: They’re tearing it down, they’re moving it all out to the suburbs. In two months none of these buildings will be standing...

And so it came to pass, the burgermeisters of Paris in their infinite wisdom gutted the center of the world’s most beautiful city and created the biggest vacant lot in its history. Within three months Marco Ferreri was directing the re-enactment of Little Big Horn. It’s been a while, but if memory serves aren’t there a couple of shots of buildings coming down in the background to Custer’s Last Stand?

DVD info from Amazon.

  • The DVD is nearly as bad as the movie itself. There is no widescreen version, there are no features, and the picture quality is video tape level.

The reviews in the European press were uniformly savage.

No great shock, Ferreri admitted he improvised two thirds of the film. But he and all the actors got paid and, we can assume, smiled quietly all the way to the bank. There was some Cahiers speculation that this was his attempt to ingratiate himself with the Godardiens and try for the same ambience of light-hearted (light-fingered?) anarchy of "Pierrot le Fou" or "Weekend". If that’s the case, he missed by a country kilometer. I think Ferreri’s biggest burden finally was his joyfully-trumpeted misogyny. Strange behavior indeed for an admittedly mother-fixated Italian. But what the hey, in his following film "La Derničre Femme", he had our beloved Depardieu emasculate himself with an electric carving knife and in my book any director who gives me that image can’t be all bad now, can he?

The Critics Vote

  • no major reviews online

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.4, based on the votes of 27 very strange people.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or 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. 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.

Based on this description, this film is an E, and very close to an F. Although Marco Ferreri is a respected director, this film was thrown together.

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