Les biches
R4 - Australia - Umbrella Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (5th May 2017).
The Film

"Les biches" AKA "The Does" (1968)

Directed by Claude Chabrol, "Les biches" is a landmark in film history: its theme of bisexuality and upper-class decadence is surpassed only by its cool precision of cinematic style and exceptionally subtle performances. Socialite Frederique (Stephane Audran) encounters young student Why (Jacqueline Sassard) on the streets of Paris, seduces her and whisks her off to spend winter with the chic crowd of St. Tropez. When architect Paul (Jean-Louis Trintignant) meets Why, he too charms her and comes between the two lovers. Frederiqe then seduces Paul out of jealousy, but finds herself feeling real love. Paul and Frederique invite Why to live together with them, resulting in a ménage a trios beset by jealousy, madness, and ultimately, murder.

"Les biches" was Chabrol's 15th film in a 10 year span, and was seen as an artistic comeback after a series of underwhelming works. Not a large commercial success, but "Les biches" was critically lauded and stayed as one of the director's most famous works in its use of sexuality and tension with subtlety rather than exploitation. The minimalist shots, the careful framework, and indirect dialogue made the film certainly stand out from the rest.

Note this is a regions 4/7 PAL DVD which can only play back in region 4 or region free DVD or Blu-ray players


Umbrella Entertainment presents the film in 1.66:1 with anamorphic enhancement in the PAL format. The master comes from a dated source and it suffers a bit. There is a slight green tint from the faded print, burn marks for reel changes stating this is from a theatrical print rather than a negative, the dark scenes lack detail, and overall looks soft. There are also specs, dust, and other minor damage sprinkled throughout, though it is only a minor distraction. In addition to that the English subtitles are ingrained onto the image. For positives, the transfer is anamorphically enhanced for widescreen televisions and it is in the original theatrical 1.66:1 size aspect ratio, though note the framing is not fully utilized as there is a slight black border on the top of the frame.

The film runs uncut with a runtime of 94:59.

Screencaps are as follows:


French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
The original mono track is presented in Dolby Digital. It's overall a very flat track with the dialogue and music with no depth to speak of, but on the positive side it is clear and without distortion or damage.

There are burned-in English subtitles in a white font. They are fine to read with no spelling or grammar mistakes but a little blurry and soft as with the film's image transfer.


Umbrella Entertainment promo (0:54)

Other than the start-up promo trailer, there are no extras to speak of on the disc. A shame considering the artistic merit and importance of the film in the director's filmography.


"Les biches" is sexy without explicit sex, violent without gore, and yet undeniably tense. Umbrella Entertainment's DVD release has a weak transfer and no substantial extras, but the film does come recommended.

The Film: A Video: C- Audio: C Extras: F- Overall: C


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