Joey and Carl are two broke writers living the coquet bachelor life in a small Paris, France apartment where they have a revolving door of transient sexual encounters with various women. Despite being writer poor and hungry for most of the time, Joey and Carl happily lead a charmed life of meaningless moments. Doesn’t matter to them how or from who they contracted a sexual transmitted disease. Doesn’t matter to them how they pay for their carnal escapades. And, mostly, doesn’t matter to them the age of the women they sleep with as long as it doesn’t cause them trouble. The woes of everyday life do not stop the roommates from enjoying night clubs, traveling abroad, and the simple, bodily pleasures of French women.
In the same preface vein as Jens Jørgen Thorsen adaptively written-and-directed “Quiet Days in Clichy,” some readers may find the following material offensive, revolting, and not up to the universal moral standard – especially more so in the politically awareness of contemporary times. Based off the novel of the same title from American writer Henry Miller, who was seen as an intellectual surrealist enlightened by the chauvinistic viewpoints on women and sex, the Danish, 1970-released blue film, “Quiet Days in Clichy,” resembles something of a semi-biographical depiction of Miller’s own personal non-fictional experiences as a proofreader in Paris during the 1930s, but updated to more contemporary times in the 1960s with genre designation that’s more of sex comedy than bio documentary. The novel, which was banned in the United States for many years, focuses on the frivolous joys of simple pleasures that superseded the life sustaining necessities, such as food or money for food and become something of a blend between Miller’s explicit anecdotes and some wishful fantasy. Shot on location in the small outer rim Paris neighborhood in Clichy, “Quiet Days in Clichy,” also known in the U.S. as the “Not So Quiet Days” or “Stille dage i Clichy” in the Norse Danish tongue, is produced by comedy producers Klaus Pagh and Henrik Sandberg.
A full skin, hang loose, and complete sexist semblance is no easy task and yet the two principal Dane actors Paul Valjean and Wayne Rodda, as Joey and Carl, are not the best looking in the men gene pool. “Quiet Days in Clichy” marks Valjean and Rodda’s one and only leading roles in their shrimpy career and while their performances paint the characters as apathetic womanizers, they still render a dopey slack-jawed dialogue as if delightful halfwits, a description not terrible too far off from the roles their portraying. The story substantially surrounds around Joey more frequently in what is an uneven dynamic development of the buddy comedy system to undercut Carl nearly completely out of the picture if no half-naked women are in the scene. Perhaps because Paul Valjean, or at least Valjean made up in Joey’s balding hair line and spectacles, looks a lot like the adapted story’s novelist author, Henry Miller. Again, this film is a semi-biographical onset of one man’s intellectual philosophy on sex and nihilism. There’s even a bit of nonchalant pedophilia as Carl takes a dunce young girl, Colette (Elsebeth Reingaard) at the ripe age of 14 off the street and keeps her as a sexual pet who keeps the house tidy in nothing more than a shirt and the way Thorsen depicts the introduction and the proceedings of keeping her around feels rather normalizing and whimsical despite Carl practically shoving her pubescence right in our faces with repetitive noting the illegality of underage exploitation and trouble that comes with it as long as the law doesn’t finds out. Even when the roommates are found out and confronts sans police, Joey and Carl’s punishment is nothing more than a stern warning from Colette’s mother. A plethora of women cross the screen and round out “Quiet Days in Clichy’s” menagerie of lewd and sensual women with roles by Ulla Koppel, Susanne Krage, Avi Sagild, Lisbet Lindquist, and Anne Kehler.
Henry Miller may have been something of a surrealist author, Jens Jørgen Thorsen was also something of a surrealist director that approached the adaptation with the knowledge the content would offend likely most people who find cavalier sex and arrogance to be offense. “Quiet Days in Clichy” is certainly obscene with wanton waywardness. Thorsen has a way of telling the lewd and crude story from the philanderer’s perspective that construes a routine day-and-a-life and everyone appears okay with what would usually be a Molotov cocktail exploding self-spiraling madness. Instead, Thorsen paints a happy-go-lucky portrait of Joey (and Carl too) with aimless ambivalence and does so with frenzied edited scenes that trims out frames and you still get the gist of sequential events by letting your brain connect the dots. The same cerebral interpretation also takes place during the photograph montage of Joey and Carl’s trip to the small country of Luxembourg in a flurry of images that tell a sequential ordered story of their whirlwind trip filled with seeing the sights, causing some mischief, and, of course, flirting with the local women. Thorsen also showcases ground level Paris to the fullest with mom-and-pop storefronts, open aired dining, the widened trafficked lanes, and the night club scenes complete with featuring American Jazz saxophonist Ben Webster scoring a subdued hot number while Joey and Carl become handsy and indulge in covert public exhibition with the female patrons at a small-time cabaret club. Miller’s adapted work is a philosophy of sexual freedom that takes precedent over personal welfare is akin to self-torpedoing with still a starry-eyed and goofy grin expression.
Stylistically, even though this Thorsen sex comedy is labeled a blue film by subgenre the film actually is voided color all around with a black and white cinematography approach by Jesper Høm that looks super slick with a well-preserved transfer in a slight low contrast on the new Blue Underground 2-disc 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray set. The brand-new restoration on a 66GB, double layer, release comes scanned in 4K 16-bit from recently discovered uncut and uncensored original fine-grain negative that absolutely is very fine indeed! The black and white picture is presented in a European widescreen standard of a 1.66:1 aspect ratio and barely shows signs of age with an anti-wear, which makes me suspect there might have been some cleanup work. There’s clearly some DNR use to smooth out the grain, but this effort also clears up the black and white picture very nicely, resulting in a solid contrast that favors the lower said a tad. The 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray process mid-to-high 30s Mbps with no pacing issues to the frame rate. Both come with new rescored English 1.0 audio mixes with the 4K Ultra HD sporting a Dolby Vision HDR while the Blu-ray’s DTS-HD Master Audio presents an equally clean file. Both offer quality audio designs that are free from undercutting distortions, such as a cracking, popping, hissing, etc, and are greatly robust with the Dolby Vision eking out a little fuller bodied product. One gripe I have is that Blue Underground doesn’t translate the French-speaking ancillary roles that become lost to conversation if one does not know the tongue, but the English subtitles are free from error and synch up well without any delay or being too quick. French subtitles are also included. Bonus features include new deleted scenes and new theatrical trailer on both discs. The Blu-ray also includes the Songs of Clichy – a 2002 interview with soundtrack composure Country Joe McDonald speaking about one note role of just scoring the film and coming to terms with his unaware sexism, Dirty Blooks, Dirty Movies, Barney Rosset on Henry Miller – an interview with Henry Miller’s editor and publisher that touched upon the mad, chauvinistic genius and perversions of the blacklisted author, Midnight Blue – an archival second interview with Barney Rosset, new poster and still gallery, a new Henry Miller book cover gallery of the title, and new scanned court documents when America seized the film upon entry into the country and the legal fight that ensued to obtain it back. The physical release comes with a not safe for work cardboard slipcover with imprinted frames from scenes while the blacked out 4K and Blu-ray snapper case comes with original artwork of one of the more memorable scenes. The release comes not rated with a runtime of 91 minutes. “Quiet Days in Clichy” lead to more rambunctious nights in the Paris suburb of debauchery and Blue Underground preserves the perverse with a higher quality of lower standards in a beauty of a release.