It was produced by Dino DeLaurentiis, it was directed by Jane Fonda's husband - the Frenchman, Roger Vedim - it was actually their third movie together; he directed her in two French films. They met during the first film, "The Circle Of Love," in 1964. Then they got married during the filming of the second film, "The Quarry," aka "The Game Is Over," in 1965. And Roger Vadim was famous for putting his beautiful wives and mistresses in his movies, because his very first movie was And God Created Woman, starring his young wife Bridget Bardoutte, in the nude, back in 1956. Then he made movies with Catherine Dunuve, did I say that right? Dunuve? And Annette Stroyberg, you remember her? He married her too.
Anyhow, "Barbarella" was based on a French adult comic strip that was considered very hip at the time, and the idea was to do a high-camp version of it. And Roger gave interviews saying he wanted "Barbarella" to be “an uninhibited girl. Not weighed down by thousands and thousands of years of Puritan education.” Meaning: she has sex every chance she gets. This was in the "free love" years, when they made movies where everybody had sex for fun, you know? No marriage, no jealousy, no demands, no real partnerships, just an endless kind of Hugh Hefner/Playboy After Dark universe. And the result, for Roger Vadim, is what you see here in this movie, which confused everybody. Because it's not always clear just exactly when he's joking and when he's not. So the critics were violently divided about whether it was a good movie or a bad movie, and I'll go into that a little later. But right now I know you're just aching to see the famous Killer Doll Attack. So. better roll the film.
[fading, as the Barbarella theme song starts again] You know, when you think about it though, how can there be thousands and thousands of years of Puritan education? Because there can only be 400 years of Puritan education, cause before that we didn’t have any Puritans. You know, plus, Roger was from France. So how many Puritans did they have over in France? I mean, when the French President dies, don’t all eight mistresses come to his funeral? It’s not like Puritanism has ever been that popular there, you know?
"Barbarella" Ad Break #2
All right. I happen to know that there are approximately 70 seconds of footage missing from the scene where Barbarella does it the old fashioned way with Ugo Tagnasi. As they circle on the ice, and we hear that hit song, “Down, Down, Down, Drag Me Down.” Now, I don’t know why the 70 seconds are out of the movie [on TNT]. Let’s just assume one of the executives at TNT is not too crazy about that scene, ok? Somebody closely connected at TNT, that’s all I’m going to say about it, all right? There were some theaters, by the way, that gave this movie a voluntary X-rating, when it came out. 1968 was the first year the X-rating existed, and this movie was rated under the old system, so the actual rating was “M, for Mature Audiences.” And normally that meant you could get in with your parents. But some theaters hiked it up to an “X”, just to make sure they didn’t get any flak from the local preacher. It’s kind of a harmless film, but its reputation was that it was a sex orgy.
OK, as Barbarella crash-lands for the second time, let’s rejoin our heroine and see what dazzling new wardrobe, or lack thereof, she crawls out of her spaceship wearing this time. Roll it
[fading] Kind of like a combination of Jules Verne, Flash Gordon (which DeLaurentiis also produced), the Marquis de Sade (1740-1814), Salvador Dali (surreal McCoy), Dante’s Inferno, and Disneyworld On Ice, all combined into one movie. Which means: it’s kind of an inspired comic / satirical / tongue-in-cheek / high-camp / high-concept… means it doesn’t make a lick of sense is what it means [crew laughs]
"Barbarella" Ad Break #3
So now, Pygar, the depressed angel, is gonna get a little reward from Barbarella, who can apparently cure all ills with her favors. But did you notice Professor Ping? That guy? Marcel-Marceau in his first speaking role, saying things like, “The angel is aerodynamically sound, it’s all a question of morale.” He shoulda kept his mouth shut, shouldn’t… I mean, who says, “I know – we’ll use Marcel-Marceau, and have him talk!” (laughs)
Anyway, I mentioned before that the critical reaction to this movie was wildly mixed. Newsweek called it, “Roger Vadim’s best work to date.” The New York Times called it, “Dead, humorless and puerile.” What’s puerile? I don’t know.
Variety called it, “Artless, tasteless, misdirected vulgarity.” In general, guys liked it more than girls did. It wasn’t exactly a feminist statement. Jane Fonda was interviewed about her character while they were filming it in Rome and she said that “Barbarella is not a vamp, and she is not promiscuous, and she is not a sexually liberated woman. She’s just born free.”
Does that help? No? Where do you meet one of these women? She has sex with pretty much everybody she comes in contact with. But she’s not promiscuous. It’s sort of a 60s concept. Unfortunately for us, by the time the 70s rolled around, the women had wised up to that business. “Hey baby, what’s wrong, don’t you believe in free love?”
“No, I do not, you moron.” See, that whole deal didn’t last very long. Alright, back to the movie.
[fading] “Hey, man, I’m just doing my own thing in my own space and time.” Remember when Peter Fonda said that? See, Jane Fonda and Peter Fonda were both on the cutting edge of this 60s sexual freedom stuff. Of course, today if you say, “I’m doing my own thing in my own space and time.” The girl’s gonna say, “Good. Have sex with yourself!” [crew laughs]
"Barbarella" Ad Break #4
So, as Barbarella goes screaming down the laundry chute, temporarily saved from the Chamber of Ultimate Solution, and the evil lesbian queen, it might be a good time to read a little viewer mail in the feature we call Joe Bob’s Advice to the Hopeless. And to help us out, is… whoa! …is the decidedly non-lesbian TNT Mail Girl, Reno.
Reno: And what does that mean?
JB: I just said you were not a lesbian
Reno: How do you know that?
Oh, you are a lesbian?
I’m not going to answer one way or another. I just don’t think that you should assume someone’s sexual preference.
Well, honey, you can be a lesbo. That’s fine. Here on MonsterVision, we are an equal opportunity, lesbo-loving employer here. Even when my Baptist brothers get mad at us, it’s fine
Thank you. Whatcha got for me?
I have a letter for you. This is from Joelle Groendez, San Francisco, California.
Thank you very much.
Don’t go into denial over stuff like that.
“Dear Joe Bob,
“I’m just writing to thank you for your help. The night you were on for the very first time, you showed The Fog, and I was very, very pregnant, and five days overdue. It was hot. I was irritable and “over” being pregnant. That very night I went to bed and at 4:15am, low, my water broke. Coincidence? I think not. That little girl didn’t want to miss another week of MonsterVision. Were it not for your show, your witty retorts, who knows how long she would’ve been in there.
Thank you for giving her some incentive.
“Your faithful viewer
“PS: Here’s a photo of your youngest viewer.”
And here she is, if you can see it. Now look at that expression. I think she’s watched one too many Adrienne Barbeau movies, you know? Isn’t she cute, though?
Reno: She is adorable
Starting to get that maternal instinct, looking at that?
Reno: What do you mean?!
Nothin, just checking. Anyway, I want to thank you, Joelle, because that’s probably the first time I ever assisted in a delivery. I think I’ve assisted in some conceptions, but let’s not go into that
Reno: Yeah, let’s not
Don’t heckle the host
Reno: I am not a lesbian!
I didn’t say you were a lesbian
Reno: No, you can even ask my sister. I am not a lesbian…
Oh, your sister…
Reno: She is not… it’s just that… people misunderstand what they hear on TV
Back to the movie. Talk about it, just talk it out. It’s hip to be a lesbo. It can help your career.
Reno: Can we talk about something else?
I don’t think you’re a transvestite, either. I’d enjoy finding out…
"Barbarella" Ad Break #5
Yes, that was Jane Fonda’s most famous line, “De-crucify the angel, or I’ll melt your face.” Followed by John Philip Law’s famous line, “An angel doesn’t make love, an angel is love.” Followed by the vicious parakeet attack. Where are we in this story? I have no idea. There are a thousand characters in this movie, and half of them have plastic breast cones. You probably wouldn’t know it, but this cast is full of internationally distinguished actors including Milo O’Shea. Milo O’Shea in one year played principle parts in three movies, “Ulysses,” which may be his most famous role. Followed by, “Romeo & Juliet,” he was the friar, followed by “Barbarella.” And it never was quite the same for Milo after that. A few years later, he was co-starring in Theatre Of Blood, the Vincent Price movie we sometimes show on MonsterVision. OK, back to Barbarella
[fading] The full name, by the way, is “Barbarella, Queen Of The Galaxy.” Roll it. This is one of those movies that they make in Italy, in English, but everybody speaks the language of their own country when they’re filming it, and then they dub in the voices later. So I always wondered how they do that… cause the guy says, “I love you.” And the girl says back to him, “Taimo also jettum polski.” And they dub that into English, and it looks normal. They love to dub in Italy! They even dub Italian actors who are speaking Italian in real life, for Italian audiences. Those wacky Italians. I don’t get it
"Barbarella" Ad Break #6
And that was David Hemmings as the inept inventor who does the famous hair-curling sex scene with Barbarella, when they take pills and touch hands. David Hemmings at the time was one of the most famous and recognizable actors in the world thanks to a starring role in “Blow Up,” the only film by Michelangelo Antonioni that anybody could ever sit thru. And that’s why he gets special billing in the opening credits. You know something else about those opening credits, the ones that keep spilling out of Jane Fonda’s spacesuit as she gets undressed? Eight writers. I counted five French guys, including the guy who wrote the original Barbarella comic strip, two English guys, and one American, Terry Southern, who wrote the book the other famous erotic comedy of the 60s, “Candy” (which was adapted by Buck Henry of Get Smart) was based on. And that probably explains why, as we now move to the conclusion of Barbarella, I have no idea what’s going on. So just roll it
[fading] One thing I guarantee you, though. It will be groovy. It will be psychedelic. It will be a happening. Love
OK. Well, we got thru that one, didn’t we? Including the end-credits lounge song, “An Angel Is Love,” performed by Bob Crew & The Bob Crew Generation Orchestra. OK guys. Get on the phone and tell them they can bring Ted & Jane back into the coutry now, alright? I assume that I’ll be here next week, when we’ll have a truly fabulous double-feature: Serpent And The Rainbow, which many regard as Wes Craven’s best movie. And our opening film is “Steel Dawn,” starring Patrick Swayze, trying to be Mad Max in the Nambian Desert. The Patrick Swayze version of The Road Warrior, I kid you not.
Alright, is that it? Can we go home now?
Did you guys hear the one about the woman who got a divorce because her husband beat her all the time? Well, she remarried, but her second husband ran out on her, so she got another divorce. And then years went by and she started to get lonely.
So she decided to look for another husband, and she put an ad in the paper and it said, “Wanted: husband, won’t beat me, won’t run out on me, good in bed.”
So several days later, the doorbell rings. Woman answers it, she finds this man there with no arms and no legs.
“I’m answering your ad,” he says.
She says, “Well, you got no arms, so you can’t beat me. You got no legs, so you can’t run out on me. But how do I know you’re good in bed?”
The man says, “I rang the doorbell, didn’t I?” [crew laughs]
Joe Bob Briggs reminding you that the drive-in will never die.
Two grave diggers are busy digging a grave in the cemetery when they hear music. Approaching the sound of music, they find that the music is coming from Mozart’s grave. But it sounds like it’s being played backwards. So they run over to the caretaker and they say, “We were at Mozart’s grave and we heard music coming out of it, but it’s playing backwards.” The caretaker says, “Of course! That’s Mozart de-composing.”
[shallow laugh] Shoulda stuck with that first one.
Additional material from Turner Classic Movies: