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.

Pornonomy Reviews: Too Naughty to Say No

Too Naughty to Say No (1984)

Directed by
Suze Randall (as Victor Nye)

Bunny Bleu
Cody Nicole
Ginger Lynn
Heather Thomas
Lisa De Leeuw
Lois Ayres
Stevie Taylor
Craig Roberts
Edward Longly
Eric Edwards
Harry Reems
Jamie Gillis
Klaus Mueller
Michael Morrison
Nick Niter
Paul Baressi
Rick Cassidy
Rufus Jefferson

Betty (Angel) and Catherine (Ginger Lynn) are school girls at a convent, studying the Bible for an exam in the garden. After Catherine is ushered off to confession by Sister Rose (Lisa de Leeuw), Betty nods off while pondering the meaning of "begat" and finds herself in a series of bizarre and compromising scenarios.

The film claims to be based on characters by the Marquis de Sade, but in essence Too Naughty to Say No is Alice in Wonderland, with Lynn's character acting as the White Rabbit. While not handled with the same craft as Neon Nights, TNtSN is just about as surreal (though Neon Nights still gets the "holy shit" nod because this film is obviously a dream). As such, I think the specifics of the scenes are better left undescribed. Well, except for the last scene, and only because it actually lends itself to an interesting discussion of the straight/gay (panic) divide of a lot of hetero pornography.

After Betty is discovered by a Helpful Motorist (Cody Nicole) asleep on a pile of trash bags (yes, you read that correctly), she's reluctantly seduced by the Helpful Motorist in the Helpful Motorists car. To Betty's shock, men appear at each window of the car to watch the women. The Motorist explains that the men are her friends, and that Betty shouldn't mind them. Predictably, the anonymous men all begin masturbating. While the scene primarily focuses on the women, there are frequent shots of the men, culminating in each man ejaculating on a window, and then slowly ducking out of sight - exactly opposite the way they appeared - leaving only their "releases" as evidence of their former presence.

The fixation on male orgasm in pornography is frequently (and conveniently) explained away by saying that it's a way for the male viewer to position himself in the "action," but it's also possible that such focus can be attributed to the "flexibility" of human sexual identity (as posited by the Kinsey curve or by - of all unlikely sources - Blue Collar Comedy comedian Ron White's "We're all gay, buddy. It's just to what degree are you gay," bit).

Anyway, the extent to which you'll enjoy the film is largely dependent upon your tolerance of wailing guitar music, plentiful '80s hair dos, and ridiculous costuming. Overall, I felt the only real knocks was Angel's slight lack of charisma. Still, on the whole, a pretty interesting and enjoyable experience. B