The King’s Whore

If you love periwigs as much as I do, you’ll love this film. Periwigs galore! Set during the late Seventeenth century, The King’s Whore (1990) also known as La putain du roi, or La puttana del re, is based on the true story of French-born Jeanne Baptiste d’Albert de Luynes, Countess of Verua who became the mistress of Vittorio Amedeo II, the King of Sicily and Sardinia and Duke of Savoy.

King Vittorio is played by the always-smouldering Timothy Dalton and Jeanne is played by the lovely Valeria Golino (who is best known from Immortal Beloved).

[All photos are screenshots I took from my DVD.]

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As a young woman, she marries Alessandro – the handsome, rich Count of Verua – and the two are very happy together until she is introduced to the King:

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The King covets her immediately and begins to form an unhealthy obsession with her. He constantly meets both her and her husband.

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Jeanne senses his increasingly relentless attraction towards her and despises him for it. He sends her husband away, takes her child away from her, and she begrudgingly lets the King have his way with her. She is no easy conquest, however, and she tries to make him hate her so she can be free from his suffocating attentions.

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He is mad with love for her and even beats her when she doesn’t reciprocate his affections (yeah, like that’s going to help!). She feels betrayed by her husband, Alessandro, who does nothing to stop the King from having her. Vittorio forces her to be with him always, even with his wife, the Queen, beside him:

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Things go from bad to worse and Jeanne contracts smallpox (horrendously common in the 17th century!) and as war devastates his country – all Vittorio can do is think of her.

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Will she ever escape from his clutches?

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This film is very good – and, whilst not very historically accurate (for example when he meets Jeanne he is King already, but in real life he was still only the Duke of Savoy) it’s entertaining and I think it makes viewers want to go and look up the historical figures. The costumes are gorgeous and the music by Gabriel Yared is lovely (Yared also used some memorable 17th Century pieces – from Allegri’s Miserere to Henry Purcell’s Odes to Mary II, and some themes by 18th century composer Mozart as well). It also had some splendid filming locations!

Screen Shot 2013-02-15 at 10.55.26It took me ages to locate this film on DVD, because it is so rare, but I ended up finding it on Amazon as a region-free disc from Poland. In my opinion, this is much better than The Devil’s Whore because it is realistic about a woman’s power (or lack thereof) in the late Seventeenth Century.

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Hear ye! 9 thoughts — so far — on “The King’s Whore”:

  1. Kelley

    I ordered mine as well from Amazon. Luckily, in English but only watchable on my computer. Oh well! Great film.

    Reply
  2. Christine

    You had to wait for the DVD… what year is this???. I was just roaming around on the smart TV and there it was. Great viewing and your critique is very good and accurate.

    Reply
  3. Ruby

    I watched this movie when I 15years old. Now, it was pop up randomly in youtube. I watched it again after 15years. I is great movie but sad ending. So impressed.

    Reply
  4. Stormy Todd

    I’ve not seen this in forever! Like, VHS in the 80’s. I just looked on Amazon Prime and it’s not there. Thinking maybe I had the wrong name I googled it and found this. I’ll definitely go to YouTube. I don’t remember much about it other than it was good! Thanks!! 🙂

    Reply

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