Ces Dames Preferent Le Mambo
Director: Bernard Borderie
Aka - Dishonorable Discharge
A lone man stands at a bar trying to get a drink on the house and says to
the camera "The hero of this film is not Lemmie Caution but it could be his
brother". The man at the bar is of course Eddie Constantine who played Caution
any number of times. Often directed by the director of this film - Bernard
Borderie. The small rundown bar is in an insignificant Caribbean port where
the ex-pats do as much drinking as sweating. A place to hide out or just
rot in the heat. But giving it the Lemmie Caution treatment at the beginning
of the film clues you in to what sort of film is coming. A lot of fisticuffs,
sarcastic remarks, a plot that doesn't stand up to much scrutiny, some beautiful
women and a farcical at times comical attitude. Nothing here to take seriously,
but three enchanting women and two hard-knuckle French faces makes it easy
to glide through.
Captain Brickford (Constantine) is trying to stay off the grid after getting
into trouble with a US Navy and only the kindness of his landlady/bar owner
who is also a hophead keeps him afloat. Barely. The unshaven Perez who looks
like he just came out of the spin dry cycle comes to him with an offer that
is as suspicious as a one-armed man. A group is coming from France and need
a captain for their boat. Why me? You know your way around. Brickford remains
doubtful until he sees the group that includes three women - a blonde, a
red head and a brunette - who all look like ten carat diamonds with spikes.
Well why not - what can go wrong.
Within a few hours on the boat all three women are throwing themselves at
him like catnip with a chaser and bumming cigarettes off him. Like his Lemmie
character Constantine is irresistible to women but trouble to men. He doesn't
know what he is getting himself into - first a fishing trip, then sunken
treasure and then the real deal. He is being set up as the patsy but Lemmie
- I mean Brickford is no patsy. Like he says God made women and then women
made confusion and apparently this plot which makes little sense. The women
are for the record - Pascale Roberts, Veronique Zuber and Lise Bourdin -
all of them have jumped into my Top Ten French actresses with Pascale leading
by a nose.
In a part that doesn't come to the forefront until the second half of the
film is Lino Ventura as one of the members of the party. Ventura was still
getting small parts - often in Gabin films who had taken a shine to him and
his first lead was a film from Borerie called The Mask of the Gorilla later
this same year. Having him and Constantine in the same film is a bit of a
treat - like two broken faces colliding with one another. But Constantine
gets all the quips and best punches in. Lino would have to wait a while.