Les Biches (The Does) is a 1968 French-Italian film starring Stéphane Audran, Jean-Louis Trintignant, and Jacqueline Sassard. It was directed by Claude Chabrol, and depicts a tortured lesbian relationship between the Audran and Sassard characters. Audran won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 18th Berlin International Film Festival. The film had a total of 627,164 admissions in France.
On the Pont des Arts in Paris, a rich and beautiful woman, Frédérique, picks up a penniless female street artist called "Why". Frédérique seduces Why and takes her to her villa in Saint Tropez.
The villa is occupied by two gay friends of Frédérique, Robegue and Riasis. At a party, Why meets an architect, Paul Thomas. She leaves the party with him. They are followed by Robegue and Riasis, acting on Frédérique's orders. They watch as Paul sleeps with Why.
Frédérique visits Paul and sets out to seduce him. The two start having an affair. Frédérique invites Paul to move into the villa, kicking out Robegue and Riasis.
One morning Why finds a note saying that Paul and Frédérique have gone to Paris. She follows them and goes to Frédérique's apartment. Discovering Frédérique alone, Why confesses to being jealous of both Frédérique and Paul. Frédérique tells Why she finds her love repulsive, and Why stabs her with a poisoned dagger.
Why calls Paul, pretending to be Frédérique, and invites him to the apartment. When he arrives Why is waiting for him dressed in Frédérique's clothes.Jean-Louis Trintignant - Paul Thomas
Jacqueline Sassard - Why
Stéphane Audran - Frédérique
Nane Germon - Violetta
Serge Bento - Bookseller
Henri Attal - Robèque
Dominique Zardi - Riais
Chabrol later admitted he included the lesbian plot in order to help the film at the box office. It was the first film he made with Andre Genovese.
Chabrol talked about the story:
It is about the equilibrium of such a relationship, when someone else intervenes about the bargains that people make with each other. And about the rich, the advantage that they have over the poor, their richness. They can buy people, and the poor have to submit, until they revolt, and the only possible revolt is destruction. It is from a Marxist point of view but it is not political at all. I'm sure you cannot make a revolution with a camera. But you can show up all the people and things you dislike.
The film was not successful at the box office but it has become one of Chabrol's most famous movies. It revived his reputation critically after a series of disappointing films.
Chabrol said later the film marked a creative turning point for him. "With the films since Les Biches I think I'm finally on the right track," he said. "I knew I was interested in murder but what I didn't realise is that my interest isn't in solving puzzles. I want to study the human behaviour of people involved in murder.