Friday, February 26, 2010

Brigitte Bardot

In the early sixties, our family subscribed to The Advocate, a weekly publication of the Newark Archdiocese. A Catholic publication, it always included a column that ended "yours in Christ". The major feature of the paper, however, was the Catholic church's weekly movie ratings. It was this column I would rush to every week. Preceding the film industry motion picture ratings by decades, it listed movies currently showing and informed the laity of the appropriateness of the films for them and their families.

The best part of the list, at least for all the Catholic boys in New Jersey, was the listing of movies that were "condemned". Anything French, for example, was always condemned. Even relatively innocent films like Irma La Deuce, which had a French name, was condemned. Never on Sunday was condemned, perhaps for suggesting the presence of other attractions for that day besides mass, baked goods and dinner.

Needless to say, any film starring Brigitte Bardot was condemned. Perhaps because of this, among the boys in my fifth grade class, there was constant conversation about the French actress. Surprising in a way, since none of us had ever seen any of her movies. For that matter, I doubt if any of them were shown outside of art houses east of the Hudson River.

It was probably the name. Brigitte Bardot sounded so forbidden, so much more alluring than Jayne Mansfield or Marilyn Monroe. These American actresses could never compete with the mystique of le Brigitte.

Today, thanks to Netflix, I am seeing some of her movies for the first time. So far, except for the frontal nudity, the movies are rather dull. They are almost like a Jack Lemmon type movie, but with subtitles and lots more smoking. Oh yes, and of course Ms. Bardot.