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Salon Kitty

Review by: 
Head Cheeze
Madamme Kitty
Release Date: 
Blue Underground
Aspect Ratio: 
Directed by: 
Tinto Brass
Helmut Berger
Ingrid Thulin
Teresa Ann Savoy
Bottom Line: 

 Whether or not you're a fan of "adult' cinema, if you're truly appreciative of the craft of filmmaking you owe it to yourself to give Italian erotic cinema maestro Tinto Brass a look. The director's films have become something of a cult phenomenon, and now, thanks to the folks at Blue Underground, one of his finest comes to DVD uncut and unedited, and loaded to the gills with enough special features to merit a second disc! Talk about respect!!
In a Berlin on the edge of World War 2, a brothel owner is unwittingly drawn into an S.S. covert operation in which she's forced to play housemother to a group of national socialist woman trained to work as prostitutes and gather intel on high ranking officials and military men. The women are all staunch supporters of the party, but Margerita (Savoy), a disillusioned upper-class girl whose unwavering support of the socialist movement is infectious, catches the eye of the operation's supervisor Wallenberg (Berger). Wallenberg falls madly in love with Margerita, but she has feelings for someone else; a "client" who has shared his secret desire to leave Germany and take Margerita with him. Margerita doesn't report this, but Wallenberg has all of the rooms at Kitty's salon wired for sound, and has Margerita's lover hung for treason. When Margerita finds this out, she tells Kitty all about the operation, and the two hatch a scheme to give Wallenberg a taste of his own medicine.
While Salon Kitty is, for all intents and purposes, an adult film, it's also one that is beautifully filmed, wonderfully scripted and paced, and epic in almost every sense of the word. Brass' style shows subtle hints of Kubrick, Godard, and Wilder, combined with his own twisted and unique vision. His pre-war era Berlin is presented as equal parts repressed society and sexually charged carnival, and Brass juxtaposes the two worlds by alternating between the wildly colorful world of the salon and the Spartan and drab environs of Wallenberg's S.S.
While much of Brass' work is lighthearted, Salon Kitty reflects it's subject matter. The film, based on actual events, features some very violent and controversial images that may shock or offend the more casual viewer, but that is precisely what makes the film so unique.
Blue Underground presents the film in a limited 2-Disc set that features a very nice widescreen anamorphic transfer that's only marred by occasional graininess and artifacts. Most of the degradation is only apparent in the newly restored cut scenes (presented in Italian with English subs). The sound is adequate, but the dialogue is a bit faint in places, and it's very noticeable when the volume suddenly surges when a musical number or the film's score kicks in.
Disc one features the film as well as the international and American trailer, and a text filmo/bio on Brass. With the film running at just over 2 hours and 13 minutes, there's not much room for more! However, that's where disc two comes in! There are two featurettes; Inside Salon Kitty - Interview with Director Tinto Brass, Designing Salon Kitty - Interview with Production Designer Ken Adam, as well as radio spots, a large poster and still gallery, conceptual design sketches, and a DVD Rom feature called The Story of Salon Kitty that details the actual events that inspired the film. It's a fantastic set to say the least.
Salon Kitty is not for everyone. It sports an almost unprecedented amount of gratuitous sex (although nothing too hardcore) and violence, and more sensitive viewers would be well advised to check out some of Brass' "tamer" films, like the fantastic All Ladies Do It, or The Key. However, adventurous viewers will be rewarded with one of the most unique and entertaining pieces of erotic cinema ever filmed. 

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