History 118: New York Times review of “And God Created Woman” (1957)

In 1956 the cinema world was rocked by the release of director Roger Vadim’s arousing film, And God Created Womanwhich featured his soon-to-be famous wife, Brigette Bardot. Upon arrival in the United States, The New York Times gave the movie over to the newspaper’s principal reviewer and merciless taste master, Bowsley Crowther.

It appears that Crowther’s overall disapproval of the film was overcome by Bardot herself:

“This round and voluptuous little French miss is put on spectacular display and is rather brazenly ogled from every allowable point of view,” he wrote.

She is looked at in slacks and sweaters, in shorts and Bikini bathing suits. She wears a bedsheet on two or three occasions, and, once, she shows behind a thin screen in the nude. What’s more, she moves herself in a fashion that fully accentuates her charms. She is undeniably a creation of superlative craftsmanship.

In conclusion:

We can’t recommend this little item as a sample of the best in Gallic films. It is clumsily put together and rather bizarrely played. There is nothing more than sultry fervor in the performance of Mlle. Bardot, and Christian Marquand and Jean-Louis Trintignant are mainly heavy-breathers as her men. Curt Jurgens is sleek and saturnine as the yachtsman who bides his time. A couple of capable French actors slink in now and then.

But the scenery is nice. The location is the quaint town of St. Tropez, with its mellow, pastel-colored houses against the blue of the Mediterranean Sea. And the outstanding feature of the scenery is invariably Mlle. Bardot. She is a thing of mobile contours—a phenomenon you have to see to believe.

It is difficult to convey Bardot’s impact at the height of her power. Such was her effect, that existentialist philosopher Simone De Beauvoir penned a short tome titled Brigette Bardot and the Lolita Syndrome which praised the actor as a force for liberation. What is important to remember, however, is that the Bardot craze was created in the larger sense by an economic miracle, the rehabilitation of Europe just a dozen years after the worst and most devastating war in history.

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