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The Perfect Woman

D: Bernard Knowles C: Patricia Roc, Nigel Patrick, Miles Malleson

A scientist having invented a mechanical woman hires a wastrel (and his butler) to try it out. In a plot twist that seems at least a few centuries old, his niece takes its place. Smug British comedy, soon degenerating into a Punch and Judy show, the “robot” endlessly misunderstanding commands. A “funny” Italian hotel manager and Swiss waiter do little to alleviate the monotony. The film’s interest, however, lies in its fetishistic implications, decades before such things were anything but a footnote in Krafft-Ebing. The android – or gynoid – in its naked state wears a leather harness, complemented by a large collection of risqué lingerie. It is more than suggested that these are no more accessories than her hair and other physical attributes, frequently commented upon and savored by the male cast. Of course, being a living doll, a helpless sexual object, is in itself a fetish, which the female protagonist seems to enjoy immensely. Regretting the inventor’s omission of a certain anatomical detail, as the sex robot lies on the bed in a black peignoir, a necrophile’s dream – everybody loves some body – and discovering that she’s a real girl, the young man immediately proposes, she as readily consenting, perhaps anticipating the nature of their future bliss. After all, she is the perfect woman, as the professor explains: “She does exactly what she’s told, she can’t talk, she can’t eat, and you can leave her switched off under a dust sheet for weeks at a time.” In the face of such perversity, modern movies must surrender.

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