...And God Created Woman is the 1956 French film that put St. Tropez on the map and made Brigitte Bardot an international sex symbol.
It was directed by Roger Vadim and starred Brigitte Bardot, Curd Jürgens & Jean-Louis Trintignant.
When the film was released in the United States in 1957, it pushed the boundaries of American cinema and was condemned by the Catholic League of Decency.
But the public loved it and it became a box-office smash, making Bardot an overnight sensation and paving the way for a wave of sexy films to follow.
Brigitte Anne-Marie Bardot, born in 1934, is a French former actress, animal rights activist, fashion model, and singer. Bardot took up music and dance early and by age 15 had already appeared in the magazine Elle. More on that issue of Elle in a minute.
She started her acting career in 1952 and had appeared in 16 films before taking the role in this controversial film and was 21 when this film was made.
The film is widely recognized as the vehicle that launched Bardot into the public spotlight and immediately created her "sex kitten" persona. Bardot is also recognized for popularizing the bikini in her early films, in her appearances at the Cannes Film Festival and in numerous photo shoots.
In addition to bringing the bikini into the public mainstream, Bardot has also been credited with putting the city of St. Tropez on the map. And in fashion, the Bardot neckline, a wide open neck that exposes both shoulders, is named after her.
Bardot was idolized by young John Lennon and Paul McCartney of The Beatles and they made plans to shoot a film similar to A Hard Day's Night, but the movie was never made. Lennon had his first wife, Cynthia Powell, lighten her hair color to more closely resemble Bardot, and George Harrison compared Bardot and his first wife, Pattie.
And, according to the liner notes of his first album, Bob Dylan dedicated the first song he ever wrote to Bardot.
He also mentioned her by name in I Shall Be Free, which appeared on his second album. In 1970, a sculptor used Bardot as the model for a bust of Marianne, the French national emblem.
During her career in show business Bardot starred in 48 films, performed in numerous musical shows, and recorded 80 songs. In 1973, just before her fortieth birthday, Bardot announced her retirement and since then has used her fame to promote animal rights.
In 1974, Bardot celebrated her 40th birthday by appearing in a nude layout in the Italian edition of Playboy magazine. During the 1990s, she became an outspoken critic of immigration, mixed race marriages, some aspects of homosexuality, and Islam in France. She has been fined five times by the French government for "inciting racial hatred".
In 2007 she was named one of the 100 Sexiest Film Stars by Empire magazine. And the first-ever official exhibition looking at Bardot's influence and legacy opened in Paris on September 29, 2009, one day after her 75th birthday. She is still active today in the animal rights movement.
Curd Gustav Andreas Gottlieb Franz Jürgens was a German-Austrian stage and film actor, who you may know better as Curt Jürgens. He began his working career as a journalist before becoming an actor at the urging of his actress wife.
He spent much of his early acting career on the stage in Vienna and in Germany. Jürgens was critical of the Nazis in his native Germany and, in 1944, he was sent to a concentration camp as a "political unreliable". He survived but, because of his treatment in Germany, he became an Austrian citizen after the war.
He came to Hollywood following his appearance in this film and like many multilingual German-speaking actors, he went on to play soldiers in numerous war movies. One of his most famous roles was as the James Bond villain Karl Stromberg in The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977.
Other notable performances include an officer in The Longest Day, and a submarine commander in The Enemy Below. He appeared in over 160 films & television shows.
Jürgens suffered a heart attack several years before his death and during that attack he claimed that he had a near-death experience where, unlike most near-death stories, he died and went to Hell, instead of heaven. He died in 1982, from another heart attack.
After he died, his former wife, the Hungarian actress Eva Bartok, claimed that Jürgens was impotent and their daughter, Deana, was actually fathered by Frank Sinatra during a brief affair that Sinatra and Bartok had in 1956. Her claim was ignored by the Sinatra family.
Jean-Louis Trintignant was born in 1930 to a wealthy industrialist family. He studied law in Aix-en-Provence but decided to become an actor instead. Roger Vadim discovered him and this film was only his third screen role.
After And God Created Woman came out, there were rumors that he had an affair with Brigitte Bardot, and the press hounded him so relentlessly, that he joined the army to get away. It wasn’t until ten years later, in 1966, that he had his first big success with A Man and A Woman.
He turned down the lead in Last Tango in Paris, a part that Marlon Brando took, because of the nude scenes. He has starred in more than 100 movies in his career, with a special talent for the dark characters, like murderers or jealous husbands.
Roger Vadim was born Roger Vladimir Igorevich Plemyannikov in Paris. Although his Ukrainian father gave him the first name Vladimir, French law then required a French first name.
In 1949, Vadim lived in the Paris apartment of some friends and was babysitting their 3-year-old son. The boy wanted him to make a paper airplane and Vadim picked up the May issue of Elle magazine to rip out a page. In the magazine, he saw a photo of Brigitte Bardot, then a 15-year-old fashion model.
He became fascinated with her image, and gave the photo to a director friend, who was about to film a script Vadim had written. Although Bardot didn’t get a role, Vadim started a relationship with her.
Her furious parents tried to cut him off, and nearly sent her to a boarding school in England, but Vadim and Bardot managed to keep seeing each other.
Their relationship flourished, at least until her unwanted first pregnancy. She had an abortion, which enraged Bardot's father. Louis Bardot pulled a gun on Vadim, threatening to kill him, but the young couple escaped to Saint-Tropez, a little town on the French Riviera.
Finally, in December of 1952, Vadim and Bardot were married. Their groundbreaking film four years later, ...And God Created Woman, was Vadim's directorial debut.
The memorable scene of Bardot dancing barefoot on a table to the tango delighted male audiences and became one of the most titillating scenes in French cinema.
Vadim eventually came to be more celebrated for his romances and marriages to beautiful actresses than for his films.
During the 1960s, Roger Vadim used the same formula in more “sex-symbol” films with his later wives and lovers, including Catherine Deneuve and Jane Fonda.
You may remember that Jane Fonda played the title role in Barbarella in 1968, which Vadim wrote and directed. But his later films didn’t arouse the same degree of interest and the American remake of ...And God Created Woman in 1988, was a box-office dud.
In fact, star Rebecca De Mornay was nominated for a Razzie Award as Worst Actress for her part in the remake. Vadim died in 2000 and is buried in the St. Tropez cemetery.