The Rough and the Smooth Film Details
Overview: Young blonde woman seems to destroy everyone she comes in contact with.
Review: This film is based on a Robin Maugham novel called ‘The Rough and the Smooth’ which is a gay book in disguise (Robin Maugham was homosexual) and watching the film in this light gives it a whole new perspective. In the book, Nadja Tiller’s character was English but the great director Robert Siodmak, known best for his contribution to Film Noir, wisely realised that no English actress could succeed so well in the role, and Tiller delivered one of the best performances on film. It is not a shoddy sex film, but an analysis of sadomasochist needs and how easily it is to be dominated by them. The one spoiler I will give is that Nadja Tiller as the young woman was sexually assaulted at the age of 16, and the man’s rough approach appealed to her, and he became the dominating passion of her life. This has consequences for those she meets, and Tony Britton, as a wealthy man, becomes obsessed with her to the point of near total self destruction. If this film lacks a plot for some reviewers it is because they were not looking closely. It is in my opinion much more daring than ‘Room at the Top’ (brought out close to it), and has been sadly neglected as a truly adult film. William Bendix is borderline camp in his role of Tiller’s ‘sugar daddy’, and there are quite a few gay hints, even using Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony in Tiller’s scene where she discusses being abused and liking it. This symphony was a favourite among homosexuals of that era, and no doubt many in the audience of the time will have picked up on it, and Tiller in her ‘boyish’ brash and direct delivery of dialogue reveals a lot of the sexual ambiguity beneath the surface. The supporting cast are first rate, including Natasha Parry, Donald Wolfit and Joyce Carey. This is my opinion of the film, and I will risk the conjecture; Maugham could not for reasons of censorship, even in books of the time, change the gender of the young woman, nor make Tony Britton’s part as her obsessed lover bisexual. Neither could he write Bendix, the cruelly abused ‘sugar daddy’ as an elderly homosexual. In an age of repression many books and films were not as they seemed, but given all this Siodmak made an excellent film, and Nadja Tiller, great actor that she is, signposted all the sexual ambiguities of her role to perfection. Perhaps it needs a queer eye to see this, but according to my viewing it is all there. A truly original film, veiling and unveiling subjects that were certainly not usual to British or American audiences at the end of the 1950’s. It is also a very passionate film and the young woman is not ‘bad’ but a victim of her own needs and desires. It was brought out on DVD in the UK, under its original title, ‘The Rough and the Smooth’ not with the more simplistic title ‘Portrait of a Sinner’.
Country: United Kingdom
Duration: 96 min
Also known as: Mulher de Ninguém,Les seins de glace,Il ruvido e il liscio,The Rough and the Smooth,Portrait of a Sinner,Retrato de uma Pecadora,Epanastatimeni sarka,Råt for usødet,De ijsborsten,Das bittere und das Süsse,Das Bittere und das Süße,Raakaa ja hellää,Lo áspero y lo suave,Retrato de una pecadora