Considered one of the best independent filmmakers of the 60's and 70's, Metzger began his career importing erotic melodramas for distribution in the U.S. Soon after he began creating his own softcore, releasing Therese and Isabelle and The Lickerish Quartet. Compared to others in the genre, his works were more literate and better overall than those of his competitors. Entering the 70's, he started migrating toward more explicit film making while continuing to maintain the look and feel of an upscale production. Following his last literary adaption (Score) and immediately before his best known work The Opening of Misty Beethoven, Randy expands on his experimentation with bondage as contained in another of his works (Camille 2000).The Image, (L'Image / The Punishment of Anne), is Radley Metzger's masterful 1975 recreation of Catherine Robbe-Grillet's (Jean de Berg) 1956 novel of a young girl caught up in a Ménage à trois of humiliation and torture.
The story is narrated by Jean (Carl Parker), one of the principals, as a re-collection of past events. Jean, in recluse while writing a novel, re-enters the social scene at a party where he comes across Claire (Marilyn Roberts), an old acquaintance. Showing no immediate interest in her, he is intrigued by her friend Anne (Mary Mendum). Claire invites him to join them after the party, wherein he discovers the SM relationship between the two women in which Claire is the master and Anne is the slave. As the movie progresses, he finds himself becoming slowly involved and intertwined in an atmosphere of bondage, eroticism and humiliation. Beautifully photographed and physiologically complex, events finally come full circle whereby the master becomes the slave.
As in his other films and in typical Metzger fashion, it is the women who are at the forefront to be studied and investigated. He delivers the events through the eyes of the masochist, a much less explored and accepted view than those of the sadist. He draws you in, little by little, into this world of uncomfortable pleasures experienced by Anne; the brutal and calculated treatment of her tormentor Claire and ultimately, Jean. Each encounter is developed in detail, methodically, exposing a bit more of the confusing emotions and inner turmoil of its participants. And just when you think you've come to the point where you can accept what is happening, you are hit with a climatic scene so profound and intense you may find yourself turning away. It's a study in reality, much more believable and effective than modern horror shockers. It's at this point a shift in authority of the characters takes place, leading to an ending that will make you think, "I should've seen that coming."