Thursday, 1 December 2016

Linda (3 Stars)

There's something strange about the American releases of old European films. Apart from the awful dubbing, the DVD covers often have nothing to do with the films themselves. Look at the picture above. It's a pretty girl lying on a bed with a book and a pen. What's the pen for? Is it to underline her favourite passages? Maybe, but it doesn't matter. The girl in the picture doesn't appear in the film. No girls lie on a bed reading a book. In fact, nobody reads a book at all in this film.

"Linda" is a film made by Jesse Franco in 1981. I have mixed feelings about Jesse Franco. Over his career he's made some very good and some very bad films. More of the latter. However, the film stars Katja Bienert in the title role, which is reason enough to watch it.

The film takes place on the island of Madeira. That's a Portugese island, but the film was made in Spanish. A young woman called Betsy Norman is working in a luxury hotel, the Transcontinental. She's having an affair with Ronald Medford, the boyfriend of Sheila, the hotel owner. The names all sound very English, don't they? Sheila finds out, and she has a perfect way to punish Betsy. She delivers her to an exclusive brothel where she's locked up and forced to give herself to the high paying customers. Ron searches for her and tries to free her.

So where does Linda fit into the story? She doesn't. She's irrelevant to everything. Linda Norman is Betsy's 16-year-old sister who's living in a convent school in Switzerland. She takes a two-week holiday in Madeira to see her sister, but when she arrives Betsy has already disappeared. Linda meets a young man and falls in love with him, but they separate at the end of her holiday.

It's a weird story. I can't help thinking that Jesse Franco just put Katja Bienert into the film as an after-thought because he was fascinated by her youthful beauty. She was 14 at the time the film was made.

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