Private Collections (1979) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Scoop's notes

Private Collections is an anthology movie consisting of several erotic short stories. The director most closely associated with that format is Walerian Borowczyk, who did two such movies, Immoral Tales and Immoral Women. Borowczyk is again represented in Private Collections, but this time he created only one of the three tales, sharing the billing with two other masters of erotica, Just Jaecklin (Emmanuelle) and Shuji Terayama (Fruits of Passion).

Severin has done a magnificent job at digging up these rare and forgotten treasures of soft-core erotica and re-mastering them digitally. For years, we really had no access to this film at all (as with many others in the Severin collection), and now we have an uncut and uncensored widescreen DVD for fans to admire. There's even a short featurette about the making of the Just Jaecklin segment, with commentary by Jaecklin himself in good English.

The Rare DVD site is again running a 2-for-1 sale for us on this item, so click on the link below to see if you like the package he's put together.

 Uncle Scoopy Promo Private Collections DVD + Bonus



Terayama's Kusa-Meiku is the most beautifully rendered of the three stories, and has the best sex scene, but is also the most opaque. The essence of the story is that a young man cannot resist the siren call of the local madwoman, who keeps summoning him to her bed. The call is so powerful that he has to follow the Ulysses tactic of having himself lashed down. He's not at sea, so a tree pinch-hits for the obligatory siren-thwarting mast.

That story, mythological though it is, could have been told without a dense narrative, but Terayama decided to take it into dreamscape territory. It's filled with all sorts of symbolic scenes of surreal beauty. For example, a beautiful bolt of red and gold cloth is laid across a vast expanse of sand dunes, and a stark naked Ulysses-san escapes the madwoman's horny clutches by staying on the cloth, ala the Yellow Brick Road, until he and the cloth are tiny dots in the distance. By the way, I'm only guessing that the scene was symbolic. It seems that it was meant to be, but I guess I really don't know what the hell it could have symbolized. It did look really cool, so maybe it was just an "ars gratia artis" indulgence in imaginative beauty. There are other scenes which also seem to have been chosen simply for their physical beauty. A beautifully decorated parasol is turned upside down and left in the rain - that sort of thing. It's the kind of material that leaves you awed by its visual splendor and scratching your head to decipher the point.

Anyway, if you'd like to see what Salvador Dali might have accomplished as a Japanese filmmaker, this is the segment for you!






L'Armoire is the segment directed by the esteemed Mr. Borowczyk. He has created a period costume drama adapted from a Guy de Maupassant story (the link is in French) about the seamy underbelly of Paris in the time of the great impressionists. The visual presentation of the clubs and back allies of the late 19th century is highly stylized and many individual frames could be mistaken for paintings by Renoir or his contemporaries. The film stock and filters have been carefully chosen to give off the same feel as the familiar paintings of that era.

Unfortunately, the look is all this one has. There's not even any worthwhile erotica. The Japanese story reviewed above has both a gorgeous look and some fairly hot sex, but this one has very little sex and nudity in the main story. A prostitute played by Marie-Catherine Conti briefly exposes her breasts before sex, but this segues into a lethargic sex scene which is performed man-on-top with a blanket over their lower bodies. There is so little erotic content within the exchange that the director felt obligated to add a completely gratuitous scene with some unidentified lesbian can-can girls in a naked embrace!

Oh, that rascal de Maupassant - the Howard Stern of his own day!

To make matters worse, the story isn't told very well. De Maupassant wrote a surprise ending to a story about a prostitute and her john who hear noises in her apartment. What are those noises? The film delivers the narrative with no real suspense, so that the eventual surprise ends up as a "so what?" moment rather than a release of tension.





L'île aux sirènes

L'île aux sirènes is the name of the segment directed by Just Jaecklin and starring one of Jaecklin's favorite stars, Laura Gemser, the beautiful Indonesian woman commonly called "Black Emmanuelle."

A flabby, bald, sloppy-looking sailor is marooned on what appears to be a deserted island.

  • The good news is that the island is actually inhabited by four beautiful women who seem to love it when they have sex with Paul Giamatti-lookin' dudes. The only thing they like better than the sex is serving him any way possible.

  • The bad news is that "How to Serve Men" is a cookbook.

Also Soylent Green is people. PEE- PUL!!!

And Kyser Soze is ...

But I digress.

This section doesn't compare to the other two segments artistically, and it has a lame cop-out ending, but it has one very strong point - four beautiful women topless at all times, one of whom is the spectacular Ms. Gemser.



Uncle Scoopy Promo Private Collections DVD + Bonus


  • the transfer is anamorphically enhanced, 1.66
  • see details in the main commentary


see the main commentary and the summary below

Tuna's notes

Private Collections (1979) is a trilogy of unrelated short erotic tales from three directors: Just Jaecklin, Walerian Borowczyk and Shuji Terayama. It was co-produced by Japan's Toei, and the French company Films du Jeudi (Thursday Films). The DVD includes an interview in English with Just Jaecklin, who gives a real insight into this project. Producer Pierre Braunberger hounded Jaecklin to participate in this experiment. Jaecklin didn't feel the trilogy format with three different directors could result in a watchable film, but Braunberger wore him down and he agreed. He believes he was right, and the trilogy is not a good film. When it came to casting, he was curious about Laura Gemser, who had springboarded her career from the Emmanuelle series. There was some bitterness in his voice when he mentioned that he only made the first of the Emmanuelle films. The moment he met her, however, he knew she was the right choice for his script.

Isle of Sirens


Jaecklin's is the first tale on the collection, and tells the story of the sirens in a new way. A sailor trips and falls off of his yacht, which sails away without him. He washes up on the shore of a tropical Island. He is obsessed with being rescued until he discovers Laura Gemser and her three female friends, who seem only interested in running around topless, and serving him in any way possible.


The Grass Labyrinth


This is the Japanese segment, and tells of a young man in search of the words to an ancient nursery rhyme. We learn that he was heavily influenced in his youth by an insane woman who kept seducing him. This installment is full of amazing imagery, but I am afraid most of the symbolism is lost on Western audiences. Still, it contains the best sex scenes of the three, and amazing visual style. This segment includes a full frontal, which clearly was not shot for Japanese audiences, since pubic hair could not be shown in Japanese films in 1979.




The final segment stars Marie-Catherine Conti as an exotic dancer and hooker who brings home a rich customer for the night. Based on a Guy de Maupassant story, it supposedly is a mystery, where the couple keep hearing noises. The punch line is the reveal of the source of the noise. Unfortunately, Borowczyk is clumsy in his storytelling here, and builds up no suspense.



Severin did another good job remastering and releasing a lost classic of early Eurotica. Unfortunately, that doesn't change the fact that, as Jaecklin said, it is not a very good film. Where it shines is as eye candy. Several frames of the Japanese segment deserve to be framed as stills.

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.

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.


Based on this description, we both suppose it is a C- as Eurotica. Scoop notes, "I didn't like this one as much as Severin's Immoral Women DVD. The stories aren't as good, the DVD isn't mastered as well, and the nudity is a bit light overall - it's basically just toplessness, and two of the segments don't even have very much of that. The only flashes of pubic hair come from from two anonymous chorus girls in the Folies Bergere segment and a very brief flash from the madwoman in the Japanese section. There is no segment in this collection which is as totally satisfying as the best ones in the two all-Borowczyk collections, but there are good moments and great images scattered throughout the three segments.  If you're a collector you will still want to see this long-lost anthology."

Return to the Movie House home page