Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1981)

Just Jaeckin directs Sylvia Kristel, Nicholas Clay and Shane Briant in this Cannon Film Group’s adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s controversial and explicit upper class wife and manly servant love affair.

Derided on release and still of poor repute, this really ain’t half bad. Sure, Kristel and Clay give one note performances (often clunkingly dubbed) but their naked bodies look spectacular together. If you’ve turned up solely for the First Lady of Soft Porn she delivers everything you’d expect in terms of arty smut yet surprisingly her Mellor’s gets more flesh baring shots. It dashes through the plot and some of the deeper themes, there’s no real sophistication to this adaptation… but if you were studying the text for A-Levels you’d still get everything you’d need in terms of characters, narrative and philosophical ideas from this race across the story. York notes for the horny. Considering it is Cannon, studio heads Golan & Globus are infamous for their cheapo productions, it looks bloody marvellous. The rich period detail from lacy stockings to convincingly opulent location production values are gorgeous, albeit filmed in that hazy, Vaseline lensed “Letter to Playboy” way. Anton Furst who’d go on to do Production Design for Tim Burton’s Batman and Neil Jordan’s Company of Wolves gets an early credit here. And while the leads are cast for their looks and lack of inhibitions, Shane Briant and Ann Mitchell gift us subtle, complex and often teasingly inscrutable bits of acting as the sidelined Lord Chatterley and his nurse respectively. I’ve watched this twice in my lifetime, enjoyed it both times and for a night of classy exploitation I’d argue it is quite the hidden gem.


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