Paul Verhoeven Collection - Limited Edition (The 4th Man / Turkish Delight / Katie Tippel / business Is business / Soldier of Orange)
The Paul Verhoeven Collection consists of five films the Dutch director made in Europe before graduating to the Hollywood mainstream with such films as Total Recall and Basic Instinct. A bawdy though sympathetic look at the lives of two Amsterdam prostitutes, 1971's business Is business was Verhoeven's film debut. Ronnie Biermann stars as Greet, a worldly wise prostitute who is decently protective of her neighbour and friend in the trade, the busty, younger Nell (Sylvia de Leur). Finally, she decides they must both break out of their decreasingly fulfilling lives and seek out matrimonial stability. business Is business probably seemed like an authentic depiction of the Amsterdam demi-monde in its day, but today its kinky peccadilloes look rather quaint. However, both Biermann and Sylvia De Leur forcefully resist any of the clichés of the era in their strong characters.
When Turkish Delight (1973) opens on a brutal attack and then a succession of one-night stands, it seems that bohemian artist Eric Vonk (Rutger Hauer, collaborating for the first time with Verhoeven) is a complete jerk. Then a sudden flashback reveals the motivations for both his dreams and behaviour, as well as the subject of the photos he spends his time pining for. He meets Olga (a fantastic Monique van de Ven), but their tempestuous relationship is shaken by many peculiar events: a surreal wedding ceremony, unveiling a statue to the Queen, and the death of Olga's father. The real problem is Olga herself, however, which leads to a shock ending many have compared to Love Story. Somewhat dated now, Turkish Delight is nonetheless unmistakably a product of the now-familiar Verhoeven style.
Katie Tippel (1975) is a handsome period drama set in 19th-century Holland, based on a true story. The second eldest daughter in a poor family, Katie (Monique van de Ven) must find whatever work is going to make ends meet. As she enters a succession of jobs in which she experiences both exploitation and sexual harassment, she learns that men want her for only one thing and so she enters prostitution. However, she is finally able to escape the poverty trap and ascend the social ladder, particularly when banker Hugo (Rutger Hauer) takes her as his lover. All this is set against a backdrop of social foment as the workers' impatience at poor social conditions increases.
Based on real events, Soldier of Orange (1977) tells the story of Dutchman Erik Lanshof (a star-making performance by Rutger Hauer) and a small group of students as they struggle to survive the Nazi occupation to the end of the Second World War. Across a canvas lasting almost three hours, Verhoeven unfolds a saga of friendship, espionage, and romance with almost documentary realism, crafting a deeply affecting film widely regarded as the greatest ever made in Holland.
Only two years separate The Fourth Man (1983), Verhoeven's final Dutch language movie, and the explosive commencement of his Hollywood career. This savage comedy shocker could well be seen as a trial run for Basic Instinct, since it features an ice-cold seductress (Renée Soutendijk) with mysterious motivations and sexual preferences. The hallucinatory tale follows a novelist (Jeroen Krabbé) first falling for her, and then feverishly investigating whether she's a serial husband killer. The film is full of what would soon be recognized as Verhoeven trademarks: a little blasphemy, a lot of nudity, dispassionate characters, and hidden agendas.
Director: Paul Verhoeven
DVD: Box set, Color, Widescreen, NTSC