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The Delirious Fictions of William Klein (Eclipse) (1966-1977)

Director: William Klein, William Klein
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Criterion
Genre: Classics, Political Satire, Experimental/Avant-Garde, Criterion Collection

William Kleins explosive, challenging New York street photography made him one of the most heralded artists of the fifties. An American expatriate in Paris, Klein has also been making challenging cinema for over forty years, yet, with the exception of his acclaimed 1969 documentary Muhammad Ali, the Greatest, his film work is barely known in the United States. In his three fiction features-Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?, Mr. Freedom, and The Model Couple-he skewers the fashion industry, American imperialism, and middle-class complacency with hilarious, cutting aplomb. Today, Klein's politically galvanizing and insanely entertaining social critiques seem even more ahead of their time than works of the more famous New Wavers that overshadowed them: colorful, surreal antidotes to all forms of social oppression.


Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? (1966)
After a nearly decade as Vogue's most subversive fashion photographer, William Klein made this wild, pseudo-vérité peek into the world of Parisian haute coutureand was summarily released from his contract at the magazine. Elegant, scathing humor ties together the various strands of this alternately glamorous and grotesque portrait of American in Paris Polly Maggoo (Dorothy MacGowan), a mannequin-like supermodel who becomes the pin-up plaything of media hounds and the fragmented fantasy of haunted Prince Igor (Sami Frey). Klein's first fiction film is a daring deflation of cultural pretensions and institutions dressed up in ravishing black-and-white.

Mr. Freedom (1969)
William Klein moved into more blatantly political territory with this hilarious, angry Vietnam-era spoof of imperialist American foreign policy. Mr. Freedom (John Abbey), a bellowing good ol' boy superhero, decked out in copious football padding, jets off to France to curtail a Commie invasion from Switzerland. A destructive, arrogant patriot in tight pants, Freedom joins forces with Marie-Madeleine (satirically sexy Delphine Seyrig) to combat lefty freethinkers, as well as insidious evildoers Moujik Man and the inflatable Red China Man, culminating in a gloriously star-spangled showdown of kitschy excess. Delightfully crass, Mr. Freedom is a trenchant, rib-tickling takedown of gaudy modern Americana.

The Model Couple (1977)
In 1977 France, the Ministry of the Future chooses two average, white, middle-class citizens, Claudine (Anemone) and Jean-Michel (Andre Dussolier), for a national experiment. They will be monitored and displayed for six months in a model apartment outfitted withstate-of-the-art products and nonstop surveillance-the template for "a new city for the new man." An unusually prescient depiction of the breakdown of individual freedoms in the face of an increasingly mechanized consumer culture, William Kleins The Model Couple deftly satirizes a modern age out of control.

GreenCine Member Ratings

The Delirious Fictions of William Klein: Mr. Freedom (Eclipse) (1969)
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6.33 (9 votes)
The Delirious Fictions of William Klein: The Model Couple (Eclipse) (1977)
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6.43 (7 votes)
The Delirious Fictions of William Klein: Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? (Eclipse) (1966)
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6.77 (13 votes)

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