'Tis Pity She's a Whore


by Tuna

Charlotte Rampling plays an attractive young single woman in the 17th century. Her older brother returns home, and the two fall madly in love. He gets her pregnant, and when they are discovered she is forced to marry her rich suitor. In the true fashion of the body-count school of 17th century revenge dramas, things do not go well for them after that. In other words, it makes the ending of Hamlet seem like a hippie love-in.

'Tis a Pity She's a Whore (1972) is an Italian melodrama based on the eponymous 17th century play by John Ford. The following table summarizes the five key literary divisions of the late 16th and early 17th century.

The English Renaissance and beyond

Ruler Years Period known as
Elizabeth 1 1558-1603 Elizabethan
James 1 1603-1625 Jacobean
Charles 1 1626-1649 Caroline
Oliver Cromwell/

Richard Cromwell

1649-1660 Commonwealth/Protectorate

(Theaters closed)

Charles II 1660-1685 Restoration

This play is technically from the somewhat obscure Caroline era, which occurred after Shakespeare and Marlowe had died and Jonson had fallen out of favor with the court. According to Terence P. Logan and Denzell S. Smith in The Later Jacobean and Caroline Dramatists (p. 141), the play was first performed somewhere between 1629 and 1633. Another source, The Classic Encyclopedia, says 1626. In either case it was not  performed until after James's death, and was not published until 1633, well into the Caroline era, but many people have speculated that 'Tis Pity She's a Whore was written in the Jacobean era rather than the Caroline, because its blood-soaked revenge theme was so common in the drama of James's reign.  If the 1626 performance date is correct, the play may have been written, in whole or part, before James died, but there is no hard evidence to support that speculation. Whether that is the case or not, the play is certainly influenced strongly by the Jacobean mind-set, and the filmmakers did try to reproduce the play faithfully.

Unfortunately, this material was written to be performed on stage, and to appeal to the unique tastes of the audiences of that time, so it doesn't really translate that well to the screen, or for contemporary audiences in any medium.

The film does feature breast exposure from a young Charlotte Rampling, so that's one ... er ... two good things about it. Given that fact, this will be of primary interest to Charlotte Rampling fans, and to both enthusiasts of the bloodbath school of 17th century post-Elizabethan tragedy.


Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


C- for the film, but an F for this DVD.

This film has long been unavailable and can now be ordered in English on DVD.

NOT recommended.

The source material for this DVD was pretty clearly a VHS version. Besides being made from less than ideal source material, the DVD is encoded as 4/3 full screen, but is actually closer to 16:9, which means everyone has suddenly lost 1/3 of their body weight.

In addition to the poor quality and inept mastering, this is a censored version of a film which was originally more explicit.

Even the DVD box is bad, referring to John Ford's play as a "novel."


2 Roger Ebert (of 4 stars)


5.3 IMDB summary (of 10)




  • Charlotte Rampling exposes her breasts.