POSTED October 19 2012

Sylvia Kristel’s last movie

Sylvia Kristel

That sound you heard was the curtain closing on the 1970s. Sylvia Kristel, that Dutch treat, a luscious brunette who in the 1974 erotica Emmanuelle resembled Hedy Lamarr in the buff, has died. She was 60. I can’t make the case for her as a great actress. Indeed, I’ve only seen two of her 50-odd films, Just Jaeckin’s Emmanuelle  and his 1981 Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Both are soft-core erotica, quite unlike Behind the Green Door and Deep Throat.  Hard-core porn was leather and chains; a Kristel film was lace gloves and lingerie. When its admirers called it European, that’s what they meant. Kristel’s face said  good girl and her body said defrock me.

Still, Kristel was surprised by the confusion between her and her star-making role.
“Everyone thinks I’m a nymphomaniac. Do they think John Wayne goes home and kills Indians as soon as he stops filming for the day?”

Kristel continued making films, most in her native Holland, until the end. What would seem to be her last appearance is in the documentary triptych by Brussels -based filmmaker and artist Manon de Boer that will show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art November through February. De Boer’s portrait of three women means to raise that curtain on the 1970s.

When I reviewed Lady Chatterley’s Lover for the Village Voice, I wrote that Kristel might be the only actress working who could look at a naked hunk bathing and communicate with her eyes, “I’ll hold his loofah.”

Other Kristel memories?



  1. Gary Kramer says:

    I am sad to hear of Ms. Kristel’s passing as she absolutely represented unbridled sexuality in my youth. 1981’s PRIVATE LESSONS (possibly the epitome of those horny teenage boy sex comedies) was a film my friends and I saw on the sly at every opportunity (endless plays on cable helped when we couldn’t get into theatres). And the fact that she was in the wonderfully awful AIRPORT ’79 just shows what a celebrity she was back in the day. She will be missed!

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