Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pornonomy Reviews: The Filthy Rich

The Filthy Rich (1981- Caballero)

Directed by:
Michael Zen

Jesie St. James
Lisa De Leeuw (as Lisa DeLeeuw)
Samantha Fox
Vanessa del Rio
George Payne (as George Paine)
Hershel Savage (as Hubert Savage)
Jack Wrangler
R.J. Reynolds

The Filthy Rich was the very first porn I ever saw. Like I mentioned in the review for Stiff Competition, this film dictated what I expect(ed) from all porn: a fun plot, well written, well acted, and well directed. Of course, the "fun" plot qualification has since been revised to "interesting" as I encountered films that weren't intended to be light or funny.

The film revolves around a wealthy couple, Trent and Tiffany Trumaine (Jack Wrangler and Samantha Fox), having trouble in the bedroom: the lady of the house is frigid (that my first exposure to Fox was as a woman that was sexually frustrated and naive is pretty hilarious given that, by much of what I've read, she's very aggressive in real life). In order to improve their sex life and save their marriage, they decide to enroll in a sexual encounter group at Loadstone in Carmel (look for it in a segment on "69 Minutes..."). In their absence, they leave their maid and butler, Freida and Jarvis Leer (Jessie St. James and Herschel Savage) in their proxy.

As the faux-Trumaines, Freida and Jarvis tend to the estate: greeting the new Cuban cook, Chili Caliente (Vanessa del Rio); seeing that the pool gets cleaned - Dirk (Randy West), filling in for his kid brother and sporting a bad-ass perm and hilarious cut-off denim shorts, predictably lays into Freida, who's under the influence of del Rio's "special" refried beans; and do some market research for the sexual aide equivalent of the Avon lady, Magnolia Thunderpussy (Lisa de Leeuw).

Ultimately, Loadstone unleashes the sexual animal hidden within Tiffany Trumaine, which is put on full display at a bizarre, animalistic dinner party. In addition to the scenes between the Trumaines, the Leers, Freida and the pool "boy", and Jarvis and the cook, Jarvis and Magnolia Thunderpussy, there's one between del Rio and the two bikers that dropped her off at the Trumaine residence. This scene is problematic in that it plays out the "classic" trope of threatened sexual assault with the victim changing to willing participant part way through. Given del Rio's performance in BDSM pictures, it's not a stretch, I guess, for her to be in a scene like this, but it still makes me uneasy.

Much like violence in music, mainstream films, and videogames (sexual or otherwise), violence in porn is going to be seized upon by detractors to highlight the social evils of the medium. Any violence in porn is worse, still, because at the end of the day, the goal of pornography is to excite sexually, and drawing sexual excitement from rape situations is dicey, to say the least. Of course, plenty of normal, well-adjusted people indulge in rape fantasy, and the fact that, after having seen this film as an adolescent, I'm neither a sexual predator nor a mysoginist could suggest that scenes like this aren't harmful, it's impossible to lay out a blanket statement for everyone. It's possible, though not probable, that playing Grand Theft Auto or listening to NWA or watching The Filthy Rich at an impressionable age could warp one's development. All this is beyond what I intended for this blog or this I'm going to leave the topic with this quick note: while I don't empirically disagree with the biker scene, it'd make it a helluva lot easier defending pornography if scenes such as this (tame, really, by comparison to other films) weren't filmed....

The Filthy Rich closes in a very American Graffiti/Animal House fashion, with a narrator telling what becomes of all the characters. Included is that Chili Caliente operates a chain of taco trucks in Tijuana, saying: "If God had not wanted man to eat pussy, he wouldn't have made it look like a taco. Cha cha cha." Words to live by. B+

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