Floris

Floris 01 Rutger Hauer

Floris was a light-hearted adventure series starring the young Rutger Hauer as the title character. He’s a cross between Sir Lancelot and Robin Hood: a knight errant who has been robbed of his birthright. Hauer is the biggest star to emerge out of the show, but for our purposes he is among the least important parts of it… though it is worth remembering in passing that he, the series director, Paul Verhoeven, and the screenwriter, Gerard Soeteman, all went on to make a porn melodrama together in 1973. It’s best known under the title Turkish Delight, and it also starred the lovely Monique van der Ven.

Floris 02 Monique van der Ven

Here she is in a scene with Rutger Hauer:

Floris 03 Turks Frut

Floris was made in 1969, at the time most European television companies were switching over to color; it was one of the last Dutch drama series to be shot in black-and-white. You might think that condemned it to obscurity: for decades after the launch of color television, stations were reluctant to show archive programs from the age of monochrome. But in fact the series was syndicated, and was even shown in an English-language version on some British channels.

And what’s more, it was remade in German six years later, from more or less the same scripts but now in color. Hauer again played Floris, but the rest of the parts were recast, notably giving us a welcome turn from Ferdy Mayne as the series’ main villain, whose name in this version is Duke Karl von Grauberg.

The episode that will most repay our attention is entitled The Burning Water, and was first shown on November 30, 1969, in the Dutch version, and August 23, 1975, in the German remake. The burning water is of marginal importance to us. (If you really want to know, it’s the way Floris foils the villains, using oil to ignite a stream they’re trying to cross.) We’re more interested in the character who’s going to be the recipient of … the burning bottom!

In the Dutch version, she’s the Countess Ada van Couwenberg, played by Diana Marlet (who later worked under the name Diana Dobbelman). Here she is, in make-up that shows why nobody should be disappointed that the series wasn’t made in color:

Floris 04 Diana Marlet

Unless you’re watching in Germany, in which case she’s Ada von Kuhlenberg, and she’s played by Christine Böhm:

Floris 05 Christine Boehm

The story concerns Countess Ada’s efforts to keep her uncle’s will out of the clutches of the dastardly Duke. To that end, she and her lady-in-waiting Viola (dumpy Ida Bons in Holland, gamine Simone Rethel in Germany) dress up as young men. Here they are being all manly together:

Floris 06Floris 07

They manage to get away with the will in their possession, only to ride into trouble, thanks to a gang of boorish ruffians led by the series’ regular heavy, Long Peter (Hans Boskamp in 1969, Hans Wyprächtiger in 1975), who have taken over a country inn. Chased out of their own establishment, the innkeeper and his wife encounter a passing knight and squire, and beg for help. Unfortunately, it’s not a real knight and squire, it’s Ada and Viola in their men’s clothes – but Ada agrees to take on the bullies anyway. The initial confrontation does not end well for her:

Floris 08Floris 09

Long Peter may be a thug, but he has the masculine generosity to ask Ada and Viola to join him for a manly session of heavy drinking, complete with manly slaps on the back and thighs that Ada finds rather disconcerting and Viola takes in her stride. Yes, Long Peter is also exceedingly unobservant! But when he does discover his drinking buddies’ true gender, chaos ensues. Viola gets away, but Ada finds herself bodily picked up by one of the heavies, then passed over to Peter…

Floris 10

… who proceeds to give her a good spanking:

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And unfortunately this is the moment where the German remake disappoints, though it’s not clear whether that was by accident or design. Ada is bodily lifted as before, and Long Peter seems to be raising his hand to smack her bottom:

Floris 17

But the other ruffian twirls her round so that her face is pointing Peter’s way, and the actor skillfully and seamlessly converts the smack, if that’s what it was going to be, into clapping his hands together:

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We’ll probably never know whether the spanking was deliberately cut or was arbitrarily lost thanks to a bit of bad choreography on the set – with a low budget ensuring that retakes were kept to a minimum. But, just occasionally, there is an upside to having very little money…

The Dutch version was shown alongside a series of educational mini-documentaries about life in the Middle Ages. It was ironic that The Burning Water was accompanied by an episode about authentic historical clothing – because in her white tights Ada suffers from one decidedly anachronistic problem, seen here as she goes into the inn…

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And if you look really closely at the spanking scene…

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… you can see not only the imprudence of wearing white under white, but also a little bit of colored rosebud decoration around the edge!

So hurrah for the low budget of the original Floris: had it been less cheaply made, we probably wouldn’t have had the pleasure of seeing the Countess’s less than medieval panties!

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