The King's Whore (1989) from ICMS and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

ICMS's notes in yellow


Valeria Golino is best known in the States for her role in "Rain Man". She has never been shy, but I didn't realize that she had allowed herself to be shot by the gyno-cam until I watched "The King's Whore" (1990).
The movie itself turned out to be a pleasant surprise for me. I had expected some boring 18th century costume drama with overlong dialogue. It was luckily nothing like that. While the direction is a bit static, there is a wide variety of different locations and the sometimes fierce dialogue between the two main characters and their states of mind managed to hold my interest during the entire film. Although the director lost control of the storyline a bit near the end, it doesn't really hurt his film, especially since both lead actors, Valeria Golino and Timothy Dalton, put in a strong performance and held everything together.
This drama is set at the beginning of the 18th century at the royal court of Piedmont in Turin. Valeria Golino plays the role of the Countess of Verua. She and her husband, the Count, have something strange going for a couple of royals in those days: they married because they are deeply in love with each other. They end up at the royal court and as soon as the King (Timothy Dalton), who isn't used to no as an answer, sees the fresh countess, he wants her to himself. His yearning is such that it becomes an obsession to him.
Pressured and black-mailed by everyone at the court, including by her husband's family and the Queen herself (so the King would become better humoured again), the countess practically has no choice but to give in and become, as the title indicates, the King's whore. She certainly doesn't give away her charms for free and has a large influence on him. The King too is not the easiest of guys to deal with but is he really the brute we are lead to believe he is? And is the initially sweet and innocent countess only bedding him because she has no choice?
All in all this film could have been better, but it's a nice and effective effort as it is that doesn't give you an urge to press the fast forward button. The image quality of this Spanish full frame version DVD could have been sharper and the colours a bit crisper, but it is still acceptable.

Scoop's notes in white

King pursues noblewoman. She finally gives in because of some political advantages to be gained, and because her husband seems to be unconcerned. She and the king have a power struggle. Later, she contracts smallpox, and the king becomes her caregiver! Ah, his lust was love after all.

The soulful king is played by Timothy Dalton, whose powerful presence was the only strength of this slow-moving costumer which couldn't decide whether it wanted to be a serious drama or a bodice-ripper.


Valeria Golino shows her breast and buns.

Most famously, she shows a completely graphic, open-legged shot of her genitalia from the rear.

Amazon does not carry this Region 1 DVD, but it can be obtained in bargain basements everywhere. Terrible transfer. Looks like a digitized VHS.

I have never been able to figure out why Dalton never became a major star. He has the looks, the voice, the athleticism, the complexity, and the acting ability. When I watched this film, then thought about why he never inspired any love as James Bond, I was forced to an inevitable conclusion. Despite all his talent, he is a very dull man.  He is just a big, sonorous, powerful, athletic, handsome bore. He is so dull he makes Ralph Fiennes seem to be as wacky and fun-loving as John Belushi. He is so dull that a permanent Timothy Dalton film festival could drive Sominex out of business. And he's the liveliest thing in this film.

The Critics Vote ...

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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, Scoop says, "this is a C-. If you have to see every powdered wig movie, this one has Dalton and solid production values. If you have no innate enthusiasm for such costumers, you'll find it an exercise in tedium. If you're curious about the nudity, it is very nice and very sexy, but the existing DVD transfer is so bad that it really spoils the fun of the nudity, the costumes, and the set design." ICMS says, " In my opinion this is a solid C. Scoop and I don't exactly share the same view on this one although I can agree with his conclusion. His review, however, refers to the 114 minutes long region 1 DVD, mine to the 99 minute Region 2 effort. Another 15 minutes would probably result in a slow-paced flick."

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