The film opens well enough with a beautiful brunette cavorting in a beach-house bed with a middle-aged man. The slow-motion photography thankfully concentrates less on him and more on her gorgeous, full breasts.

But then the brunette notices a strange figure watching them from the top of the room. Adorned in hat, trench-coat and sunglasses - looking very much like a French New Wave detective - it turns out that the peeping Tom is the man's wife (Monica Guerritore). She's a wealthy socialite who has just discovered her husband is cheating, and flees when the mistress claims their affair is built on love.

When she returns home that evening, the wife - referred to only as Senora - turns the TV on and sees the mistress on the screen, reading the news. After stripping off and bathing while listening to a cowardly confession pre-recorded on an audio cassette by her husband, she retires naked to her bed and asks housemaid Maria what went wrong. "Am I so ugly?" she pines.

No she's not, she's quite a tidy package herself (as anyone who's seen THE VENETIAN WOMAN will attest) and so gets her shit together the following day and leaves the matrimonial home, embarking on a directionless road-trip in her convertible sports car.

Before long, she passes an odd character driving a jeep on the open highways. It transpires that the cigar-chomping, opera-singing bloke behind the wheel is a travelling cartoonist (Gabriele Lavia). Following a brief exchange in a roadside cafe where he overhears Senora asking her husband down the telephone whether his mistress gives the better blowjob, he pursues her along the lonely road until she reluctantly pulls over and indulges in a conversation with this extremely confident suitor.

He finally gets his way and she's sufficiently charmed to accept his invite of lunch. Over lunch, he produces his pens and a few sheets of paper - and draws a series of erotic illustrations that he dubs "scandalous Gilda" (that's pronounced "Jilda"). This leads to arguably the best bit of the film - a colourfully animated sequence involving a town full of talking cocks and gonads, who await the arrival of Gilda - a talking cunt on a pair of legs in stockings - and go gaga over her when she comes in on a phallic-shaped train.

The upshot of all of this is that Senora is impressed enough to decide she wants to go to bed with the cartoonist. So it's off to the nearest motel, where their increasingly perverse affair (or voyage of discovery, if you will) begins.

The film becomes more graphic at this juncture (though never hardcore), and the pace slows down. Episodic forays into kinky sexual encounters ensue, taking in compliant water sports on the roadside; a brief scene very reminiscent of LAST TANGO IN PARIS's most controversial scene - with saliva replacing butter; and Senora fucking a randomly passing truck driver for the cartoonist's benefit.

In fact, Senora seems compelled to agree to do just about anything ... apart from exchange names with her newfound partner. The cartoonist, meanwhile, despite possessing a penchant for degrading sex, appears to be falling in love with his latest fuck-buddy ...

Lavia and Guerritore were married at the time that this film was shot. That, and the fact that the film was co-written (with Riccardo Ghione) and directed by Lavia - who horror fans will recognise from his performances in Dario Argento's INFERNO, DEEP RED and SLEEPLESS - are the greatest points of interest.

Aside from that, the use of classical music and the well-shot, well-lit soft-core sex scenes are the best thing about SCANDALOUS GILDA.

The performances are the type that largely wash over the viewer (especially in dubbed form), the storyline doesn't really reveal anything while treading too close to LAST TANGO and BELLE DU JOUR, and the perversities shared between the two protagonists - throwing money at your lover after sex; the man sucking his fingers dry after fingering her, and so on - don't really seem shocking in this day and age.

Still, the film is melodramatic, well-photographed (the exteriors are nice; one shot involving the holding of a broken shard of mirror is very impressive indeed) and just-to-say sweaty enough to hold the attention.

SCANDALOUS GILDA is presented uncut on One7Movies' Region 0 NTSC DVD. The onscreen title is the original Italian title, SCANDALOSA GILDA.

The presentation is an anamorphic 1.78:1 one, which appears to accurately reflect the film's original aspect ratio. Although not pin-sharp and exhibiting occasional print damage, this is a fairly good proposition considering the relative anonymity of the film.

Mono audio is available in either original Italian or English dubbed. The former is the clearer of the two. Although the dubbed track is also clean, it's a little quieter in the mix. Optional English subtitles are provided, but only for portions of the English track that are spoken in Italian. It's a shame that the Italian track doesn't contain a subtitle option.

The disc opens with a static main menu page. From there, you can access an animated scene-selection menu that offers 12 chapters.

There are no extras.

One of the many, many soft-core films that emerged from Italy in the 80s (1985, in this case), SCANDALOUS GILDA is well-made and occasionally erotic. But the story is lacking and the sex seems rather flat, especially considering the leads were married.

Fair play to One7Movies for getting the film out on US DVD though.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by One 7 Movies
Region 1 - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review