Jeanne Moreau stars as the eponymous schoolmistress of a small French village, to all appearances a repressed, young spinster, yet she's consumed by a sexual hunger that provokes her to secret acts of violence and random destruction. In poisoning the animals' drinking water, opening the floodgates to drown them, and setting fire to barns and homes, she experiences the sexual fulfillment otherwise denied her. The angry townspeople, mystified about the source of the crime, would like to scapegoat recent arrival Manou (Ettore Manni), a virile woodcutter who is the foreman of a crew of Italian laborers. He is already deeply resented by the local men because most of the village women are in thrall to his overpowering sexual magnetism, the secretive Mademoiselle most of all. Manou sports with some of the women but ignores Mademoiselle. Enraged by his indifference, the teacher leads him into the fields and seduces him by licking his hands and boots and crawling on all fours. Later, she returns to the village, her clothes in a ragged state, and claims that the woodcutter is guilty of rape. Jeanne Moreau is brilliant in director Tony Richardson's wickedly naughty film.
Theatrical release: August 1, 1966.
After a week or so of work on the script, Jean Genet disappeared, never to return, and Richardson had to finish the script.
As an experiment, the director decided to use only stationary camera setups.
After the completion of the film, Richardson became romantically involved with star Jeanne Moreau.