Color, 1973, 91 mins. 32 secs.
Directed by Frans Weisz
Starring Rijk de Gooyer, Jennifer Willems, Jon Bluming, Sylvia Kristel
Cult Epics (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD)
If you haven't ever experienced the whiplash insanity of '70s Dutch cinema, a pretty good place to start would be 1973's Naked Over the Fence (Naakt over de schutting), a mixture of lighthearted buddy romantic comedy and giallo-inspired murder thriller. Successful in its native country (where the funky soundtrack by Ruud Bos was a solid seller on vinyl), the film managed to get exported to the U.K. and Italy but never hit American shores even during the sexy heyday of '80s cable TV. Now thanks to the presence of fourth-billed Sylvia Kristel, it's finally been given a chance with American viewers courtesy of a 2022 Blu-ray release from Cult Epics -- though it has a lot more to offer than just the magnetic Ms. Kristel.
In the heart of Amsterdam, Rick Lemming (Gooyer) runs an arcade and enjoys keeping pigeons on the roof where he can peacefully watch the sunset. He rents out a room in the building to a teacher, Penny (Willems), with whom he starts to develop a romantic interest. Meanwhile his best friend, karate teacher Ed (Bluming, a real martial arts champ), gets to show off in a tournament and invites Penny after a karate lesson to act in a new art film he's making. He's less interested in acting than getting to spend time in various states of undress with aspiring singer Lilly (Kristel), who can be seen posing naked with another woman during the shoot across the street. Rightfully suspecting something might be up, Penny sends Rick to investigate -- which leads to him peeping through a gigantic prop fence in the studio where he sees Ed and Lilly being browbeaten by a director into shooting a porn scene. The two narrowly escape (minus clothes, thus the title), but that's just the beginning of their troubles when the director ends up murdered. Soon someone tries to kill Lilly during a stage performance by dropping a gigantic gold record on her head, and menacing guys in sunglasses are stalking them. What's really going on in their neighborhood, or has Lilly sung her last song?
Apart from Kristel, all three leads had worked together already in The Burglar, the successful prior debut film from this one's director, Frans Weisz, who's still working today. All of them have a nice, easy rapport together that helps the film bounce from martial arts scenes to pop numbers to light sex scenes, with the thriller plot more or less holding the second half together. The whole erotic angle is amusing given that Kristel would soon become the most famous cast member by far thanks to Emmanuelle the following year, and she'd already proven her mettle in Dutch giallo imitations earlier in '73 with the interesting Because of the Cats (which needs a Blu-ray release one of these days). It's fun to see her miming the ridiculous song "A Letter Came Today" on two occasions, plus you get to see her do some slinky modeling in a brown wig not far off from how she'd look later in the decade once she went ultra mainstream.
As with its previous presentations of Dutch film restorations from the Eye Museum, Cult Epics' Blu-ray comes from a nice 4K scan from the original negative. Obviously there isn't much to compare this to on the video market, but it looks appealing throughout with the 1.33:1 open aperture framing looking correct (for what would have probably been masked to 1.66:1 in theaters). Flesh tones can veer a bit to the orange side in some scenes as with some other Dutch films, but that's a trend going back way before the Blu-ray days as well and appears to be inherent in the source. The Dutch LPCM and DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono tracks both sound fine without any significant issue and feature good English subtitles. An audio commentary by Weisz biographer Harry Hosman has plenty of info about the film including the connections between this and The Burglar, the one scene that caused a tiff between the director and producer, the background of the soundtrack, Kristel's career at the time, and more. A behind-the-scenes segment (14m47s) shows Kristel and company at work shooting her first big musical scene, and a 2014 radio interview with Weisz (8m17s) features the director looking back at the film and its cast including the changes in their voices over the years and his '70s directorial heyday. In the most entertaining extra here, Bos turns up for a quick 2015 interview (11m42s) about timing out his score to the script followed by a lengthy, very groovy set of live tracks from the film performed by the B-Movie Orchestra (to promote the composer's two-disc CD greatest hits set). Finally you get a 1m32s gallery, the theatrical trailer, and bonus Kristel trailers for Frank & Eva, Julia, Pastorale 1943, Mysteries, and Playing with Fire. The limited edition 1,000-unit initial pressing comes with a slipcase and a bonus CD featuring the entire Bos score.
Reviewed on July 29, 2022.