Editor’s Notes: Immoral Tales & The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes are out on their respective formats September 15th.
Immoral Tales (Arrow Video) is a collection of four erotic stories from director Walerian Borowczyk. The movie is a through-the-ages look at eroticism featuring both historical and fictional characters. The 1976 film is notable because of its quantity of total female nudity — not the carefully photographed, expertly lighted love making scenes of Hollywood films, but long takes in brightly lit settings featuring totally nude women or women in flimsy see-through attire.
The film begins with The Tide, a modern story of a young man (Fabrice Luchini) who tricks his naive teenage cousin Julie (Lise Danvers) into pleasuring him by turning her head with poetic allusions to nature, and making himself out to be a knowledgeable man of the world, even though he is just a bit older. He easily bends Julie to his will. Therese the Philosopher is about a religiously devout French girl (Charlotte Alexandra) in 1890 who is wrongfully punished and locked in a room for three days where words she hears from God encourage her to explore her sensuality.
Erzebet Bathory tells of a woman who seduces young women under the masquerade of granting them eternal bliss if they touch her pearl-encrusted gown. About twenty naked girls go into a crazed frenzy when they see Bathory (Paloma Picasso) in her dress, but they are destined not for eternal bliss, but something quite horrible. The final story involves Lucrezia Borgia (Florence Bellamy) having a threesome with Pope Alexander VI (her father) and a cardinal (her brother Cesare) while her impotent weakling of a husband in sent away.
Intended to shock, the movie doesn’t pack the same wallop today, though the last two stories in particular still captivate. The theme running through the quartet of tales is the prevalence of sex and sensuality throughout history and across all classes. Admittedly, director Borowczyk focuses on the kinky aspects of sex and his unrestrained portrayal of total nudity can be regarded as either artistry or pure exploitation. You will have to decide.
The film bears influences of both Pier Paolo Pasolini and Ken Russell.
Bonus features on the Blu-ray release include an introduction by Borowczyk expert Daniel Bird, an archival interview with Borowczyk in which the filmmaker discusses cinema and sex, a visual essay, reversible sleeve featuring the director’s own original poster design, and an illustrated booklet. The film is in French, with English subtitles.
The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes
The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes (Time Life) is a 6-DVD set containing 16 uncut episodes from Seasons 1 through 5 (1967-1972), selected by Carol Burnett herself. Though many collections of this show have been issued in the past, these programs are new to DVD and haven’t been seen in over 40 years. The variety show originated in CBS Television City’s Studio 33 in Hollywood and ran from 1967 to 1978. It won 25 prime-time Emmy Awards and in 2007 was listed as one of “Time” magazine’s “100 Best TV Shows of All Time.” Burnett has been honored with more People’s Choice Awards than any other actress.
CBS wanted Burnett to do a sitcom, but she said she preferred a variety format where she could play different characters each week with a regular ensemble cast. She had achieved success in this format on The Garry Moore Show a few years earlier. Original regulars included Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, and Lyle Waggoner. Frequent guest star Tim Conway would become a regular cast member in Season 8. Each week’s show was taped twice in front of different audiences and the best parts from each taping were edited together.
The set includes the sketches “The Old Folks,” “Carol and Sis,” “Alice Portnoy,” “V.I.P.,” “George and Zelda,” “Charwoman,” and “As the Stomach Turns.” Guest stars featured include Don Adams, Lucille Ball, Bing Crosby, Phyllis Diller, Nanette Fabray, Andy Griffith, Steve Lawrence, Paul Lynde, Jim Nabors, Bob Newhart, Bernadette Peters, Burt Reynolds, Don Rickles, Mel Torme, Flip Wilson, and many others.
Included are over 5 hours of bonus features. They include a backstage tour of Carol and company returning to CBS Studio 33; never-before-seen bloopers and outtakes; the featurettes “Fabulous Firsts” and “On the Spot: Carol’s Q & A;” interviews with Julie Andrews, Carol Channing, Burt Reynolds, Alan Alda, Lesley Ann Warren, Don Rickles, and Carol Burnett herself; bonus sketches “Morton at the Movies” and “The Dentist;” and the opening number from the 1971 TV special “Julie and Carol at Lincoln Center” with a new introduction by Carol.