The strangest things happen in the sunshine stillness of Greece.
This Franco-German co-production, directed by Hans Albin and Peter Berneis (who also wrote) is an off-the-beat kind of story with heavy American accented dubbing adding to the feeling of disorientation.
It has a daring premise for 1964… a hugely-successful husband, Ambassador Eliot Anderson (Paul Hubschmid), who keeps a beautiful trophy wife Nadine (Ingrid Thulin) whilst all the while only really being interested in young men, in this case their young assistant Martin (Bernard Verley), the latest of many, whom he hopes to seduce.
But she’s not dead as a person – she enjoys friendly chats with Martin and gets him to talk about the photos of his former – female – lovers which she then offers to show Elliot: this might be one he can’t have.
|Turning the intern?|
Nadine’s nocturnal adventures continue as she walks from her dock-side apartment to a strip club where sailors leer at a young woman, Elektra (Claudine Auger - a former Miss France who would also appear in Thunderball) as she strips on stage. The directors don’t hold back from showing the baying calls of the fevered sailors: both women are at the beck and call of men although both are unbowed.
Nadine encounters Nikos after the quarrel and the two head back to her secret apartment for a heavily-edited encounter. She tries to give him his money back but there's something different about this proud man...
|Nikos and Nadine|
But now things get even more complicated as Elektra sparks an instant attraction with Martin and on a yachting excursion the two begin a relationship, hidden from view in a secluded cove... Poor Eliot's astute enough to realise that he's lost the boy and for Nadine this development offers only further threat as the young woman gets more established in her world with the threat of revealing all to Nikos who thinks his lover is a professional girl and not a member of the elite, slumming it for kicks...
|Trouble among the ruins|
Dusty verdict: Games of Desire is a more salacious title than the original German Die Lady which more accurately reflects the focus on Nadine. There's a very strong performance from Ingrid Thulin who acts as strikingly as she looks - and that's not meant as a lazy sexist compliment (but she is incredible). The story is not up to the quality of her performance but it crosses into territory that was still controversial.
|The incredible Ingrid|
The music from Hermann Thieme is suitably groovy too and the settings are stunning - shame my copy isn't clearer!
Games of Desire is currently not available on DVD... it could do with a chance?