TWILIGHT GIRLS (LES COLLÉGIENNES)
France / 1957 / 82 or 88 min / French / Drama
Director: André Hunabelle, Radley Metzger
Cast: Marie-Hélène Arnaud, Catherine Deneuve (as Catherine Dorléac), Agnès Laurent
The Skinny: Schoolgirls Are Not Good With Rules
Plato Score: C+
If you were a high femme relocated to a new Girls’ School in 1950s France, wouldn’t you try to make friends?
Anne-Marie is the new girl at school with a dark, secret past. She eventually bonds with all the other gals and, owing to her exceptional beauty, is whisked off her feet by local hunk Gilles. Her friend Monique has an obsessive quality to her friendship with her and tries to put the brakes on Anne-Marie and Gilles’s elope-fest. Meanwhile, there are also two girls who like to cuddle up for warmth and tenderness in the middle of the night. (Sacre bleu! When will they learn…) No worries: the young women are patted on the head and soon encouraged back in the hetero fold.
Twilight Girls is a curious, early addition to the ‘lesbian schoolgirl’ canon. Originally shot in France with a b-storyline involving a 10-year-old Catherine Deneuve, then infamous distributor/director Radley Metzger got his hands on it and upped the lesbian ante for its North American release. Metzger chopped Deneuve’s scenes out, dubbed it into English and added in some scintillating booby-shots with American actress Georgina Spelvin—of Devil in Miss Jones fame. (A restored version circulates with the Deneuve scenes added back in.)
The whole thing landed Metzger into hot water with the New York censorship board due to the impropriety of girl-on-girl touchy-feely-ness. Twilight Girls eventually won the case and was released in numerous states. Metzger eventually moved on to capitalize more blatantly with female lust in his later works in the sexploitation genre.
Watching the movie now it seems incredibly tame by today’s standards—not to mention wholly constructed for a male audience. But if you’re a gal who gets off on big jugs and pouty French teenagers, Twilight Girls is worth a gander—especially for the beauty that is Agnès Laurent.