Adapted by Tony winning playwright Jean Anouilh (Becket), Roger Vadim's La Ronde deftly transplants Arthur Schnitzler's famous amorous cycle from 19th Century Vienna to a lavishly re-created widescreen Art Nouveau Paris. Vadim's cast includes Jean Luc Godard muse Anna Karina and The Phantom of Liberty's Jean Claude Brialy. But for the central role of Sophie, the man who shepherded Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve to the screen (and the altar) set his sites on an American starlet -- 27 year old Jane Fonda. Leery of Vadim's Svengali reputation, but impressed with Anouilh's literate script, Fonda agreed to appear in La Ronde. Before shooting even began, director and star became lovers and when the romantic film went before the cameras, life and art intermingled freely. "I discovered," Fonda later recalled of the shoot, "tremendous sexual excitement in having (Vadim) place me in positions he wanted."
Fonda and Vadim's auspicious pre-Barbarella collaboration yielded a charming, smart and decorous sex farce. From a delightful credit sequence by Bond film title artist Maurice Binder to the bed-hopping close of the romantic roundelay, La Ronde is as sweet as it is erotic. But re-titled (as Circle of Love), dubbed into English, and advertised with a Times Square billboard of Fonda reclining in the nude, American critics of the time failed to judge La Ronde on its own merits. Now, newly subtitled and returned to its original "insouciant, elegant, witty" (Variety) widescreen glory, Kino presents Roger Vadim's La Ronde for the first time on in the US on DVD.
"Racy...artfully photographed...glows in a golden wash of art-nouveau elegance." - Time