For years, Mimi was unaware of the sexual perversions of her husband Franco, who indulges in doctor games and S&M fantasies with strange women including her best friend Claudia. When she takes over his company after his unexpected death and finds the keys to a secret apartment there, the moral abyss opens up to her. Chicly furnished, the apartment contains a temple of love, and she discovers his private film recordings of him pleasuring himself with other women. She wonders why Franco never talked to her about his secret desires and suspects that he did not want to damage her reputation as a wife. A book about sexual perversions opens up a whole new world to Mimi. She herself now dabbles in sexual games unknown to her and lures strange men to the apartment. She gets a special kick out of being carried on the back by men, and it is the doctor Dr. Carlo De Marchi in particular who has taken a fancy to her.
The early work of Pasquale Festa Campanile (When Women Had Tails and Soldier of Fortune) impresses with a relaxed, enjoyable production in which an unsuspecting housewife becomes a sex vamp. Without drifting into the vulgar, she experiences various sexual styles until she discovers her favorite fetish in piggyback (the German title of the film). The journey of a woman discovering her own sexuality is superbly filmed, with a beautiful soundtrack and the enchanting Catherine Spaak in the lead role. She skillfully infuses her role of Mimi with a wicked naivety, and with the seemingly bland Jean-Louis Trintignant as Carlo, she has the perfect film partner.
Two versions on the UK Blu-ray
There are two versions on the UK Blu-ray by Nucleus Film. One is the original Italian version and the other is the US version. The US distribution was handled by Radley Metzger's film distributor, Audubon Films, which purchased mostly European films and re-cut them for the US market. Sometimes, the films were enhanced with reshot erotic scenes. For The Libertine, Metzger apparently had access to more revealing alternative footage, which he edited back into the film to create a version with additional nude scenes. Since the runtime has remained almost the same compared to the original version, other scenes have been removed.
In addition to various cuts of shots that are hardly noticeable, a complete scene was removed towards the end of the film in which Mimi is woken up by Maria and then talks to Sandro. Sandro makes it clear that he is interested in her and gives her three days to decide. Thus, it becomes clear that Mimi has to decide between Sandro and Carlo, but in the end this does not play a role in the further course. The scene is therefore not absolutely necessary. Due to the extended erotic scenes, where alternative footage can be seen in parts, we tend to go for the Audubon version. Nucleus Film fortunately gives the viewer a choice.
Both versions seem to have been cut together from different image sources, as the image quality varies somewhat through the film, but in principle one can be very satisfied with both transfers. The extensive bonus material completes the release nicely. Those interested in the film can grab the UK Blu-ray without hesitation.
Audubon version: 94:16 min.
Comparison between the Audubon version and the original version.
The Audubon version begins with the Audubon logo, followed by the English language opening credits.
The original version shows the Italian opening credits.
AU: 1:58 min
OV: 1:43 min.
In the Audubon version, the mourners are shown longer.
AU: 3 secs.
In the original version, Mimi is leaving the room after saying goodbye to Tony.
OV: 4 secs.
After Mimi takes the marmalade, the original version has her taking an egg out of the fridge.
OV: 5 secs.
In the original version, Mimi walks to the desk with Sandro. She says that she never thought she would take over her husband's business one day.
OV: 5 sec.
Sandro offers Mimi another cigarette in the original version after they talk about the apartment.
OV: 4 secs.
After Mimi commented that she can hardly believe Claudia did this to her husband, the Audubon shows more scenes from the "Home Movie" in which Claudia whips the hanging woman while Franco watches.
In the original version, Mimi is shown longer instead, followed by another scene from the "Home Movie".
AU: 6 secs.
OV: 6 sec.
The Audubon version shows more scenes from the film in which Franco is a doctor examining the woman.
In the original version, Mimi is shown earlier pouring herself whiskey instead.
AU: 41 sec.
OV: 9 sec.
In the original version, Mimi is shown longer before Franco removes Claudia's bra in the film.
OV: 1 sec.
Mimi is shown earlier in the original version after Franco removes Claudia's bra in the film.
OV: 2 secs.
Audubon version shows Franco pulling down Claudia's panties.
The original version shows only Franco and Claudia in the film instead.
AU: 7 secs.
OV: 5 sec.
When Mimi sneaks into the men's shower, an alternate scene was used in each case. The signs are in English in the Audubon version for this, and in Italian in the original version.
AU: 10 sec.
OV: 10 sec.
When Mimi leaves the men's shower, alternate footage was used again. The signs in the Audubon version are in English, in the original version in Italian.
AU: 24 sec.
OV: 25 sec.
After Claudia shows Mimi her bug, Claudia is naked in the Audubon version as she flees to bed from Fabrizio in the dream sequence.
In the original version, she is wearing a nightgown.
AU: 19 sec.
OV: 19 sec.
In the second part of the dream sequence, Claudia is again naked in the Audubon version. Moreover, only in the Audubon version can you see how Fabrizio performs a strange dance and jumps to Claudia in the bed. There he hits and kisses her.
AU: 59 sec.
OV: 9 sec.
In the original version, Claudia is shown earlier before she gets up from the sofa.
OV: 4 secs.
In the Audubon version, the shot starts earlier as the man kisses Mimi between the legs. You can see him ripping open her panties.
AU: 28 sec.
As Mimi reads the book on the bed, the Audubon begins with a shot of the bug crawling over her naked body.
AU: 8 secs.
As Mimi reads the book, the Audubon version has the bug crawling across her chest.
In the original version, it crawls over her body.
AU: 10 sec.
OV: 4 sec.
Before Mimi picks up the bug, it crawls on her chest in the Audubon.
The original version shows the shot here, which was shown earlier in the Audubon version.
AU: 7 secs.
OV: 5 sec.
In the dream scene where Maria is hosed down by Aurelio with the water hose, the two are half naked in the Audubon version.
In the original version, they are dressed. The scenes are also less offensive.
AU: 32 sec.
OV: 13 sec.
In the original version, Fabrizio comes into the room earlier with the tray. He chuckles when he sees Mimi sitting on the scale.
OV: 7 sec.
After running naked to her apartment, Mimi is awakened by her housekeeper Maria at 10 the next morning. Maria brings her breakfast to bed and says that Sandro has been waiting for her in the next room for an hour. Mimi says that she will join him in a moment. Maria wants to know where she left her clothes. Mimi says that they must be between Caserta and Frosinone.
In the next scene, Sandro confesses that he can no longer live without Mimi. Mimi wants to know from him how long he will give her. Sandro asks if the professor is holding her back? Mimi says that Sandro is having her watched. Sandro says that he is leaving in 15 days. Mimi says there is little time to make a decision. Sandro says he can take care of the visa, but Mimi needs to get vaccinated, which takes its time. He gives her three days. She asks if he needs her passport and if it is without obligation. Sandro agrees.
OV: 2:18 sec.
The original version fades in "Fine" and credits about the songs at the end as Mimi rides Carlo through the house. The Audubon shows the Audubon logo at the end. In both versions, the music continues over black screen.
AU: 2:27 min
OV: 2:34 min.