Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pornonomy Reviews: Insatiable

Insatiable (1980)

Directed by:
Godfrey Daniels

Jesie St. James [Anal Facial]
Joan Turner [NonSex]
Marilyn Chambers [Anal Facial Fisting]
David Morris
John Holmes (as John C. Holmes)
John Leslie
Mike Ranger
Richard Pacheco (as Richard Pachecho)
Robert Pennard [NonSex]

The main theme of Insatiable is right up there in the title: Sandra Chase (Marilyn Chambers) character is afflicted with a sex drive that knows neither bounds nor fulfillment. The fact that she’s a successful model/actress and multi-millionaire heiress that can’t be sexually satisfied lends a “money can’t buy love” undertone. Well, not “love” exactly…more like “money can’t buy a sufficient dicking” which probably won’t achieve the same sort of cultural acceptance as an adage.

While the film is doubtless an adult classic, beyond the high caliber of acting (including, but not limited to Chambers’ career defining performance), soundtrack (including Marilyn Chambers – what a Jill of all trades! – singing on a theme that, purposely or not, is reminiscent of Procol Harem’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale”), and location shooting (in rural American and London), the thing that I was most impressed by was the form of the narrative. While the majority of the film takes place over the span of a few days, while Flo (Jessie St. James) is putting together a movie deal that would star Sandra, Renee Reynolds (Serena – who, by the way, looks great sporting a short Mia Farrow-in-Rosemary’s Baby-esque hairstyle), and Roger Adams (John Leslie), a little into the film it’s revealed that that timeline is actually a re-telling of events as Sandra is “presently” in London with her aunt. Adding a level to that is a point in which Sandra recounts to Flo the loss of her virginity: kind of a flashback within a flashback.

What the film does open with is Sandra masturbating in bed. Her session is cut with a series of flashes of the scenes to come (no pun intended), so it functions as a sort of prologue. A phone call regarding the film project Sandra will star in is followed by a brief (but unmissable) and inspired Ivory Snow gag.

An introduction to her co-star, Renee Reynolds leads to a hot tub tryst between Chambers and Serena. Later, Sandra sets out on a joyride and happens upon Artie Greenberg whose truck broke down on the way to a softball game (as an aside, if I had a Greenberg Produce softball shirt made up, I wonder how long I’d have to wear it before anybody realized the reference…). Offering him a ride, instead of taking him to his game, she drives him into the woods and gives him a blowjob accompanied by what may be one of the great original songs ever recorded for a porno (“Sandra suck it faster/Suck it fast as you can”).

Upon returning home, Flo informs Sandra that Renee had to leave. Sandra then tells Flo about losing her virginity on her father’s pool table to one of their gardeners (Nick – David Morris, who, gifted with a time machine, I’d cast as the Tony Banta character in a porn Taxi parody). The scene rides the ambiguous line of coercion/consent, sexual pleasure/sexual assault, “no means no”/”no means yes” as ably as any I’ve seen. (Of course, the ambiguity is done away with after the retelling when Sandra confirms she was sexually ready for the encounter and while Nick could have hurt her, he didn’t.) Handled by different performers – not only is Chambers’ ability to stay in character throughout the scene impressive, Morris is able to be commanding, but not too – the scene could have been much, much darker (CJ Laing and Jamie Gillis would play out pretty uncomfortable, though no less erotic, scene).

Finally, Sandra, Flo, and Roger Adams have a dinner to finalize the plans for the film. (As another aside, if ever I had the means to employ a butler, he would definitely look like Sandra’s butler Charles - Robert Pennard - you can’t beat having your Eggs Benedict served by a Bond villain!) Flo and Roger have a history, and that history becomes a present on a patio chair after Sandra retires to bed. “Believable” is a word that’s been thrown around a lot in the smattering of reviews I’ve seen for Insatiable, but it’s most appropriate for this scene. While Leslie and St. James don’t appear to have performed together much, it’s really too bad because they have great chemistry.

In a scene reprising the opening shot, Chambers masturbates to a fantasy that’s beautifully orchestrated: Chambers, lying prone on a table, is pleasured by a people that emerge from the shadows in a dark room – in succession, David Morris, Mike Ranger, and Jessie St. James. Yet again, Chambers is left unsatisfied as the three return to the shadows, Chambers pleading “don’t leave me.” Then, the personification of Sandra’s hope of satisfaction materializes as John Holmes. Inevitably, Sandra is still left unsatisfied despite Holmes’ best…er…effort. Really, couple the fact that Sandra’s life is overshadowed by the white whale of her sexual satisfaction and that she lost her parents in an accident shortly after her coming of age, Sandra Chase is a remarkably tragic character. Amazingly, the film isn’t a huge downer.

Beyond the “classic” tag, I knew nothing of Insatiable, and while it was different than my expectations, it didn’t come up short. On the other hand, while I’d encourage interested porn viewers to check out Insatiable – especially for Chambers’ performance – there are others I’d recommend before it. So, I’ll give Insatiable a relatively arbitrary B+.

[This review's been done for weeks, but I've held off putting it up until I got screencaps done. Well, I figured I might as well post now and then put the caps up later.]