Quiet Days in Clichy (Stomp Visual) (1970) (NTSC)

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Released 14-Nov-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Audio
Featurette-Dirty Books, Dirty Movies: Barney Rosset On Henry Miller
Featurette-Songs Of Clichy: Interview With Country Joe McDonald
Gallery-Posters And Stills
Biographies-Crew-Henry Miller, Jens Jørgen Thorsen
DVD-ROM Extras-Court Documents
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1970
Running Time 90:29
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Jens Jørgen Thorsen
Studio
Distributor
Stomp Visual Starring Paul Valjean
Wayne Rodda
Ulla Koppel
Avi Sagild
Case ?
RPI $24.95 Music Country Joe McDonald


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    In 1956, Henry Miller's controversial novel, Quiet Days In Clichy was banned on the grounds of indecency in many countries. Another of his novels, Tropic Of Cancer had also suffered very similar censorship issues on its release in 1934. Ironically, both of these novels where adapted for the screen within a very close time frame of each other. And as a pure coincidence, both were filmed at the same time, in the same city and both had Henry Miller as a regular visitor to the set of each production.

   While these productions also had similarities in their subject matter, they were both quite different in their production values. Tropic Of Cancer had the backing of a major Hollywood studio and had well-known actors in the leading roles. Quiet Days In Clichy was a Danish production, made on a much smaller budget, filmed in black and white and with actors of no reputation. In fact, all of the prostitutes portrayed in the film were played by real-life prostitutes.

   In 1970, both films were due for release and although Tropic Of Cancer had its fair share of censorship issues to negotiate,  Quiet Days In Clichy came off much worse. When the first reels of the film arrived in the U.S., they were quickly seized by the authorities, on the grounds of obscenity. The producers and distributors eventually won the case in the Federal Court and the confiscation was lifted. (A couple of the extras on this DVD discuss these matters in more detail and make for fascinating viewing).

    Strangely, the film has been rarely seen since, at least in its original and uncut form. In this DVD edition of Quiet Days In Clichy, the film is presented in its original and uncensored format, just as it was when seized by the U.S. Government back in May 1970.

    Quiet Days In Clichy is based on Henry Miller's experiences as a young man, living in a suburb of Paris called, Clichy. The Miller character is an American expatriate, Joey (Paul Valjean), who spends only occasional time behind his typewriter, trying to establish a reputation. Joey lives in a small flat with his French friend, Carl (Wayne Rodda) and together they live a carefree existence of sex, sex and more sex.

    While they frequent bars and cafes looking for women, they also have no qualms about paying for sex from prostitutes. This often leaves them with no money for food, with Joey at one point resorting to eating scraps from a bin in an extreme case of hunger.

    The occasional vague hints of love between partners is quickly washed away in an another uninhibited sexual orgy. In this pre-AIDS era of free love, the risks of sexually transmitted diseases are casually joked about between characters.

    While this film is not as forthright in its depiction of sex as the more recent, 9 Songs or The Brown Bunny, there is no doubting why it caused so much turmoil back in 1970. Quiet Days In Clichy contains a considerable amount of nudity, with a couple of very brief shots of real sexual penetration, so it's not a film for those easily offended.

    I found the film mildly amusing at times, way over-the-top at others and never particularly erotic. The black and white cinematography by Jesper Høm captures the surrounds of Paris beautifully and director, Jens Jørgen Thorsen  uses jump cuts effectively early in the film. The clever and comical use of text thought balloons also worked well early in the film. This was an innovative way of conveying character thoughts to the audience without using spoken dialogue.

    The language and the context in which it is used is extremely frank and will be gravely offensive to many people. However, after reading this review, I doubt that anyone so easily offended would place this disc into their DVD player in the first instance.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This DVD is a NTSC video transfer, so make sure your equipment can play and display NTSC discs. Blue Underground have a reputation for quality transfers and this is no exception.

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. I believe this to be the correct aspect ratio.

    The transfer exhibits excellent levels of sharpness and clarity throughout, even though the occasional presence of film grain is easily noticed. Blacks are very clean and deep, with no low-level noise issues. Shadows also displayed a high degree of detail.

    Quiet Days In Clichy was filmed in black and white, so there are no colour issues to comment on.

    There were no MPEG artefacts in this transfer. There are no significant film-to-video artefacts and film artefacts were negligible.

    There are no subtitles available on this DVD.

    This is a single sided, dual layer disc. The layer change is perfectly placed at 65:41, which was very difficult to detect without using software.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer is basic, yet adequate.

    There is one audio track available on the DVD. English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), which is the original mono audio track.

    Dialogue quality was clear and easily audible for the most part. Thankfully, there was also very little in the way of audio hiss. I expected this might have been an issue with this film, but was pleasantly surprised.

    The character of Joey had his voice dubbed by Bruce Johansen, and this is actually noted in the opening credits. This is quite easily picked up in the film and I suspect there may have been some other minor instances of audio dubbing throughout, but generally audio sync was not problematic.

    The original music score for Quiet Days In Clichy is provided by Country Joe McDonald . A couple of his songs, including the films opening song, wouldn't sound out of place on a Bawdy Ballads album. Needless to say, the lyrics are very forthright, but this is also consistent with the general content and dialogue of the film. The music used in the film varies considerably in style. From the aforementioned ditties, to straight guitar, traditional French style piano accordion and jazz. Some of this music is provided by other artists including, Ben Webster, Young Flowers, Papa Bues Viking Jazz Band and Andy Sundstrøm.

    The surrounds and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The selection of extras on this DVD are of decent quality and relevance.

Menu

    Before the menu even appears, we hear an audio message, played over a black screen. It warns the audience about the graphic nature of the film they are about to see. This message was no doubt played to patrons in cinemas before the film, which gave them all a chance to have their money refunded before commencement of the film. The menu is very well designed, with clever animation, a sample of piano accordion music from the film and 16x9 enhancement.

Featurette - Dirty Books, Dirty Movies: Barney Rosset On Henry Miller (17:15)

    Barney Rosset was Henry Miller's publisher and close friend for many years. In this informative featurette, Barney discusses his professional relationship with Miller and how he became his publisher. He also talks about the many controversial aspects of Miller's work, as well as the trouble they had with the seizing of Quiet Days In Clichy by authorities in 1970. Highly recommended viewing and a very good companion piece with the next extra.

Featurette - Songs Of Clichy (11:09)

    Country Joe McDonald discusses his role in writing the music for the film and the subsequent trouble it brought him from woman's liberation groups. He also gives memoirs of how his involvement in the film came about. A generous selection of footage from the film is also incorporated into this insightful featurette.

Poster And Stills Gallery

    A collection of 45 mixed images, behind-the-scenes, posters and various publicity shots.

Talent Bios

    Text based bios on Henry Miller and Jens Jørgen Thorsen .

DVD-ROM Extra - Court Documents

    To view this extra, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader or a similar PDF reader installed on your computer. This is an eleven page PDF file of court documents relating to the seizing of the film, Quiet Days Of Clichy by U.S. authorities in 1970. It makes for very interesting reading.

Two Easter Eggs

    Both Easter eggs are extended clips from the Barney Rosset interview. To find the first clip, go to the extras menu and press up until the word "extras" is highlighted. After pressing enter, you will get Barney talking about the publishing of the autobiography by Malcolm X. (1:59)

    To find the second Easter egg, go to Talent Bios and highlight Henry Miller. From here, press left to highlight the word "Clichy", which is on the street sign and press enter. Barney Rosset's company, Grove were distributors for the 1970 Norman Mailer film, Maidstone. In this Easter egg, Barney relates a couple of very funny anecdotes about the film.(4:03).

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This reviewed all region edition of Quiet Days In Clichy is the same version available in the U.S. All specifications, extras and cover art are exactly the same with the minor exception of a small, strategically placed red sticker on the front of the U.S. cover.

Summary

    Despite all the initial controversy, Quiet Days In Clichy has remained an obscure film for nearly forty years. Joey and Carl's hedonistic adventures in Clichy, provides some curiosity back to an era of pre-AIDS and free love. The black and white cinematography certainly looks impressive and the occasional artistic touches have some merit. However the film is ultimately low on substance, with exploitive dialogue that will border on the offensive for many.

    The video transfer is of a very good quality and exceeded my expectations.

    The audio transfer is also very good.

    The extras are all relevant and make interesting viewing.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Monday, January 30, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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