One of the very first ‘Golden Films Internacional’ titles directed by Jess Franco, Las orgías inconfesables de Emmanuelle hasn’t got enough personality to distinguish itself from the slew of ‘Emmanuelle’ cash-ins that filled the screens at the time or from other small-scale erotic films Jess of the period, such as Historia Sexual de O.
What follows the very colourful, abstract credits sequence showing close-ups of some paintings set to a melancholy keyboard score is a generic budget sex film aimed at nobody at particular. Similar to other erotic films Jess Franco made for Golden Films, Las orgías inconfesables de Emmanuelle takes its time telling a thin, unoriginal story of a nymphomaniac woman frustrating her husband with her sexual escapades.
Its pointless attempting objectivity when talking of as complex and multifaceted a filmmaker as Jess Franco. A director who chose to leave his homeland to escape the censorship and made scores of genre films halfway between his personal vision and exploitation market demands, Jess Franco didn’t receive any critical recognition during his most active period, (with only some French film reviewers who saw the art in Franco’s raw filmmaking ways), a fact that didn’t stop him from making ever more films, the more recent ones being densely self-referential and very hard to sit through for the uninitiated viewer. With no Franco regulars in the cast save for the dependable Antonio Mayans, Las orgías inconfesables de Emmanuelle gravitates more toward dull/frustrating end of the Jess Franco spectrum.
Las orgías inconfesables de Emmanuelle makes for a good case for critics who see the ’80s as a period of creative stagnation for Jess Franco. Allegedly given free reign with the small budgets Golden Films provided, Franco could have pushed the envelope in so many ways, not necessarily amping up the sex angle. Yet he used the freedom and resources to shoot a huge number of placid and unoriginal softcore sex films, which don´t really offer any groundbreaking developments when compared to, say, the Erwin C. Dietrich films from the previous decade. So, arguing Franco´s case as an auteur is never going to be easy when it´s plainly evident that his ambition was primarily to make and sell as many tiny films as possible without taking any especially daring creative steps in the process.
Quality cinematography and nice locations aside, Las orgías inconfesables de Emmanuelle is a lifeless, generic piece of erotica that won’t win Jess Franco any new fans. Las orgías inconfesables de Emmanuelle doesn’t live up to its hyperbolic title, with some very tame simulated sex and predictable situations (Franco’s 1974 erotic horror film for Eurociné, Exorcism, has a bit more to offer in the orgy department). Who is Las orgías inconfesables de Emmanuelle made for? The 1980s raincoat crowd? The sex film market? Why watch the film today? Not among Franco’s more ambitious works, Las orgías inconfesables de Emmanuelle is strictly for completists and obstinate scholars. There are much better Jess Franco Golden Films productions out there.