March 21, 1988 12:00 PM

Some dramatic vehicles are timeless, like Antigone or Hamlet or The Cherry Orchard or a movie in which a gorgeous young woman takes off her clothes. Director Roger Vadim first made this film in 1957, when the gorgeous young woman was Brigitte Bardot. Vadim has since made other movies starring wives, lovers and protégées, including Catherine Deneuve, Jane Fonda and Cindy Pickett. This version of the Bardot film, which resembles the original only in title and appeal to prurient interest, features Rebecca De Mornay. De Mornay is not just another pretty face. She is also another pretty body. She plays a woman who escapes from a New Mexico prison—she is serving time for car theft—and ends up hitchhiking with a gubernatorial candidate, Frank (Dracula) Langella. He’s sympathetic but insists she go back to prison. Then she meets Vincent (Baby It’s You) Spano, a construction worker doing repairs in the prison gym. De Mornay has a brief affair with Langella, marries Spano and becomes a rock singer. That’s it for plot, but then Vadim isn’t noted for profound plots. He does, however, have a talent for amplifying attractive images. He demonstrates this most notably with De Mornay. She showed more acting ability in The Trip to Bountiful or Testament, but she shows more, period, and to stunning effect, in this film. Vadim also makes Spano look hunkier than usual, and he and cinematographer Stephen M. (The Blues Brothers) Katz add grandeur to the mountains and deserts of the New Mexico locations. The visual pleasures may not compensate for such dialogue as “You’re a goddamned vagabond!” or “Where are you headed?” “Anywhere. Ever been there?” But if Vadim at 60 has gone from being a dirty young and middle-age man to a dirty old one, he has done so with a flair that comes close to giving voyeurism a good name. (R)

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