Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pornonomy Reviews: Blonde Fire

Blonde Fire (1979)

Directed by
Bob Chinn

Dorothy Lemay
Fatima Hamoud
Jesie St. James
Kitty Shayne
Phaery I. Burd
John Holmes
John Seeman
Jon Martin

I mean: I look at this character Holmes has come up with - and - look - I just -


Tell me.


I don't like to see women treated that way. This guy he plays, "Johnny Wadd," it's always about slapping some girl around or whatever. It's not right, it's not cool and it just...isn't sexy. It isn't sexy like it should be.

Like GGG's inability to separate John Holmes on-screen from John Holmes off-screen*, I found myself incapable of viewing Johnny Wadd outside of the context of Dirk Diggler's Wadd-esque character in Boogie Nights. In fact, I realized I was subconsciously reluctant to watch the Wadd films because of the quote above. (I didn't realize Blonde Fire was a Wadd film until it started.)

In fact, the first thing that struck me was how pitch-perfect P.T. Anderson nailed the tone of the Wadd films with the Landers films within Boogie Nights.

The next thing that struck me was that - at least in this film - the Wadd character isn't "always about slapping some girl around." True, one of the first sex scenes is a rape scene, and after Wadd is "finished" he knocks the victim (Burd) out by punching her through a pillow (yipes, that sounds awful written down...), but the thing is, it isn't played as violent and scary (even the punch is thrown in lieu of shooting the woman in the head), and when the scene is considered - the woman was a thief, having broken into Wadd's hotel room looking for a diamond, and the sex was a "natural" extension of the "who are you working for" questioning - it actually ends up no different from scores of similar non-hardcore scenes in books and movies; the same old "this guy's irresistable to women and even when they say they don't want it, they really do" cliche. Actually, at least Chinn has the balls to call a spade a spade, by actually identifying the encounter as a rape during dialogue between Dorothy Lemay and Burd.

Interestingly, for a film that seems like it should be relatively reliant on story, the plot - Wadd is in South Africa to buy a diamond - is hilariously underexplained. We're never told who Wadd is representing, why Jon Martin has the diamond in the first place, what sort of business he's in that requires a head of security (St. James), who the nefarious man with a presumed army (we only ever see two; Burd and Lemay) of women operatives is, or why he wants the diamond (although I guess that'd be relatively self-explanatory). Almost everything about the film - the "story," script, acting, and the Wadd character - seem so tongue-in-cheek that it's hard to believe it isn't an In Like Flint type parody PI/spy movies. Or, who knows, maybe it is. It could certainly lend itself to a debate similar to "is Norman Rockwell really a post-modernist satarizing the American ideal?" In fact, the climax of the film - in which four separate people get the drop on someone else in less than a minute - could be kept exactly the same and work perfectly in a Black Dynamite type parody/homage.

While it does feature from the sort of ludicrous, tacked on seeming sex scenes (similar to the way John Leslie enters a scene and fucks whoever's there in Dixie Ray), Blonde Fire's relatively well paced, so it doesn't really suffer from them.

It'd be a huge oversight, though, to not mention how hilariously out of place Seka's presence in the film is. She actually bookends the film - she's shown masturbating during the opening credits, in which she's billed as "introducing" although that doesn't seem right, and having sex with Holmes in the final scene - but her "character" is presumably Wadd's girlfriend or something (he says something like, "In all the action, I nearly forgot the doll that was waiting for me in San Francisco. I arrived a day late and a dollar short, but I still got there."). The fact that she never says anything - which could be considered a positive depending on how you feel about Seka - makes it possible, if not probable, that the scene was just a reused loop.

I'll admit, my first exposure to Johnny Wadd eased my apprehension of the sort and level of mysoginy typified by the character, so I'm likely to check out some of the other films. B+

* I promise this is the last time I'm going to reference GGG's comment while talking about Holmes. I surely don't want to imply that she's hung up on or disgusted by John Holmes.

1 comment:

  1. Haha - now I feel I have to defend myself/Holmes! I actually like Holmes in a couple of films -- Pizza Girls comes to mind. I also have read in multiple places that he was a "caring and gentle lover" and women liked working with him. It's just the drug/pathological liar thing that makes me uncomfortable. I haven't seen more than half a Johnny Wadd flick though.