Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pornonomy Reviews: Beauty

Beauty (1983)

Directed by:
Warren Evans

Nicole Black
Kathy Harcourt
Laurien Dominique
Loni Sanders
Mai Lin
Patty Boyd
Vanessa del Rio
Veronica Hart
Bill McKean
Blair Harris
George Payne
Hershel Savage
Jamie Gillis
Michael Morrison
Paul Thomas
Ron Hudd

Beauty is a fairy tale-by-way-of-soap opera type porn. Beauty (Sanders) is the kindest of three sisters - the other two, Hope and Faith (Black and Dominique) seem to live only to indulge in carnal pleasures, including, but not limited to, having their man-toy (Savage) at their beck and call. After the girls' gambling addict father's debts make him face the prospect of losing his business to Martin Gross (Gillis in a prototypically awesome Gillis-esque role) - the sort of charming dirtbag that would be the result of putting Bob Guccione in a Grand Theft Auto game - Beauty volunteers to live with Gross for a year (a solution offered by Gross after seeing a picture of the girl in her father's briefcase). Gross attempts to shock Beauty with his exploits but, as the narrator mentions numerous times, Gross's lifestyle just causes Beauty to pity him.

The sex scenes present an interesting dilemma to reviewing the film. On the one hand, while the characters are in character, the scenes don't seem particularly tied to the narrative. On the other hand, they're spectacularly well shot - the cinematography of the entire film is excellent - and the soundtrack rules. Seriously, the music may be the star of the show. While the film is set to a score that you'd expect from a mid-'50s Disney film, the sex scenes are all highlighted by a new wave/psych rock/drone soundtrack that could easily be sampled by a chillwave band now. In fact, pretend you didn't read that, so I can sample that shit! Another plus is that Evans eschewed the idea of sex sound effects or (shudder) overdubs by having the only audio during the hardcore scenes the music. (An approach I mostly associate with much, much later films; The Story of J or Teagan: All-American Girl, for instance.)

While the sex scenes could have been better integrated, the fact that the craft with which they're treated is so high (more than any other film I've seen recently, the scenes here could be pulled from the narrative and offered as just straight up hot fucking) more than makes up for it. I was really, pleasantly surprised by Beauty. A-

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