Friday, July 16, 2021

Introductions (1976)


The original French title that translates to The Weekends of a Perverse Couple is plenty blunt. I wonder if "perverse" (or, pervers, I guess) has a bit more nuance in French than English. Regardless, I prefer the classier ambiguity of title Introductions.


There's no time wasted letting the viewer know what's up: it's sexy summertime in France, and while Mitch (Jacques Insermini) spends the week working in Paris, it's up to his wife Ann (Emmanuelle Pareze) to locate and seduce a sweet young thing that they can share when he's back for the weekend. For our voyeuristic pleasure, the target is Beatrice (Chantal Nora).



The film bounces back and forth between Ann and Beatrice's Sapphic Odyssey and Mitch's Parisian Exploits. The former include a post-beach tryst:


...a park picnic party with a couple of hippies:


...and Beatrice's first trip to a porno theater (with ice cream cones!):


The latter (Mitch's week) consists of some time with some twins:


...and a couple go-rounds with a crazy-eyed hitchiker:


(With a Beatrice-featuring fantasy sequence thrown in there for good measure.)


When Mitch finally returns to the coast for the weekend, all of Ann's pump-priming pays off and the couple and Beatrice have a whale of a time; first getting Mitch cleaned up after his motorbike ride from the city:


...and then luxuriating around and in a pretty boss pool:




Finally, Beatrice's (presumed drip of a) husband returns from his job in the city, her fun frolicking is O-V-E-R, and she is fucking bummed.



Literally seconds after Beatrice is out of the picture, Mitch and Ann have set their sights on the next belle du week-end.



Robert Rimmer often talks about women viewers potentially identifying with women in the adult films he reviews. I don't know if he'll discuss identification with Ann or Betrice, but in my opinion, Ann's sexual confidence is something I expect many women would admire (and ideally identify with).

Sure, she's tasked by her husband to win over and warm up their weekly playmate, but she seems to really relish her errand and role as sexual awakener. It's impossible to say if they always opt for sexual naifs, but given the gusto with which Ann teaches Beatrice in the ways of the world, it wouldn't come as a surprise. In fact, I wonder if she'd fill her free time during the work week the same way even if she and Mitch didn't have the arrangement they do.

Let's do see what Rimmer had to say:

Things you have never seen before but are coming to if you live long enough - an older man ejaculating.


Jesus Christ, Bob, that's it? The review, such as it is, is a brief paragraph almost exclusively discussing Jacques Insermini's age and beefy dad bod. All he says about the plot is that "[h]is wife solicits young women to join them in threesomes at their summer place," which isn't inaccurate but is awfully reductive.

The more classic French adult films I watch, the more I'd like to learn the language. I mean, it's probably more common for people to want to learn new languages to read untranslated literature, but when it comes to learning, the ends justify the means, right? Anyway, I quite enjoyed Introductions, so I'm giving it a CC25, and there you have it.

RANDOM THOUGHTS
° Ann set up that camera to take a picture of her and Beatrice, but all she's gonna get is sand, baby.


° It really seems like Georges Fleury inherited a blond wig collection as was determined to use them all in this film.


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Next up:



Friday, July 9, 2021

House of Strange Desires (1985)



If there's something strange in Jason (Mike Horner) and Terry's (Tamara Longley) new house, who are they gonna call? Gina (Cindy Carver), Krensky (John Seeman), and Abigail (Jill Ferari)! Unfortunately for the haunted homeowners in House of Strange Desires, the ghosts decidedly do not get busted.

While there are some "first draft" shortcomings of the script (mostly that there's no clear origin, reason, or motivation for the malevolent spirits, almost certainly misidentified as paranormal/occult expert Krensky as a succubus), to the movie's benefit, (co)writer, director, producer Lawrence T Cole resisted the urge to lean on camp or comedy and kept the tone earnest, which made for some charming laugh-out-loud moments that can only come from movies like The Room or Miami Connection that don't come at the viewer with any winks or nods. There were also a few great details, like the spirit(s) only manifesting in physical form after being drawn by Jason's semi-possessed hand and the use of sheer fabric to denote the barrier between the tangible and spectral realms.


About halfway through the movie, something about the setting and interaction between Jason and Terry reminded me of Dangerous Desires which, turns out, was also a Cole picture. [Writing this now also brought to attention Cole's apparent passion for putting "desire" in titles: Challenge of Desire (1982), Forbidden Desire (1983), House of Strange Desires (1985), and Dangerous Desires (1982).] Both films have an undercurrent of melodrama (though in Dangerous Desires, that shit's turned up to 11). I wonder if Cole started making more serious porn explicitly or implicitly to atone for his early, much sleazier career. Either way, movies like this sort of explain how he segued into the writer's room on the final season of Dynasty.

Let's see if Rimmer provides an Collector's Choice reasoning:

The story could have been made much scarier, but Tamara is so pretty you wouldn't want anything really bad to happen to her.

That's the only subjective sentence in his review, and sheds absolutely no light on why a collector should choose it. At least he didn't make in any glaring errors, so that's something.

Look, House of Strange Desires isn't going to blow anyone's mind, but the rough edges gave it a lot of character and it would be a great pick for a Midnight Movie viewing. CC50


RANDOM THOUGHTS

° Another Ken Scudder/John Seeman joint.


° Some "six degrees of"-esque musings on Cole's "Desire Suite". In addition to this movie, Ken Scudder and Mike Horner were in Challenge of...; Ken Scudder (again), Jesse Adams, John Seeman, and Jonathan Younger were in Forbidden...; and Gail Sterling was in Dangerous....

° Tracey Adams starred in Dangerous Desires and was also in Visions of Jeannie. Tamara Longely was also in it. It's not a Cole film, but a sort of spiritual sister - no pun intended - to House of Strange Desires. Visions has a far superior original song, for what it's worth.



° I would like to know who did Jason's drawings. They're really good!


° I was very surprised that while The Rialto Report post about Bob Wolfe's studio mentioned loops generally and Linda Lovelace specifically, there mas no mention of his part in making the infamous Dogarama.

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On deck:



Friday, June 18, 2021

Insatiable (1980)


It feels so good to have great sex.


Such is the life philosophy of incredibly successful model/actress Sandra Chase (Marilyn Chambers), but Godfrey Daniels's Insatiable ultimately asks, "And then what?" On the surface, Sandra seems to have the world in the palm of her hand. Much of the film takes place during the pre-production phase of Chase's forthcoming star-turn feature, masterminded by Flo (Jessie St. James), her...agent? Manager, maybe? Regardless, Flo is convinced that attaching actors Renee Reynolds (Serena) and Roger Adams (John Leslie) will make the movie a slam dunk success. Judging by the conversations between Sandra and her Aunt Victoria on Sandra's post-filming vacation, Flo was right.


It's demonstrated and reiterated that sex is very important to Sandra. Right off the bat, she has a super horny dream and the first thing she wants to do is tell Flo about it and is disappointed when she can't due to Renee's imminent arrival. She doesn't have much time to fret, though, since within minutes after meeting Renee, the two women are in the hot tub getting it on.


Insatiable though she may be, Sandra never seems to have much difficulty finding action. What's more, she seems to be as content giving as she is receiving. After wrapping up with Renee, Sandra takes a drive in the country and comes across Artie Goldberg (Richard Pacheco) whose car broke down on the way to his softball game. Chase offers to give him a ride, but gives him a blowjob instead. Artie was so gobsmacked that he was with the Sandra Chase, that it was pretty apparent he'd have done anything she asked, so blowing him must have been enough for her in the moment. I don't think Artie ever got to his game, but I feel like he probably didn't give a shit, either.



After Sandra's drive, her fucking cool as hell butler Charles told her that he'd sent Renee back to her hotel in a limo, so Sandra takes the opportunity to have some wine with Flo and tell the tale of how she lost her virginity to the family's gardener (David Morris) on the billiards table in her father's study. There's some ambiguity as to how old Sandra was during the experience. She tells Flo it happened "around six years ago," but that doesn't really track. Chambers was 28 at the time, and it seems reasonable to expect Sandra was supposed to be about the same age (I could see maybe 25 at the youngest), but the Chambers's portrayal of Chase in the flashback was much more naive than a 19-22 year old. Plus, after the story's over, Flo expresses her concern that she could have been hurt and says, "Imagine...and you were just a young girl...." To which Sandra replies, "I was young, but sexually, I was ready for him." I'd put the implied age at 14, plus or minus two years, purposely obscured for decency (if not legality).



The scene itself is a touch overlong and borders on assault despite Sandra's claim of being "ready for him" well after the fact. David Morris is a serviceable enough actor overall, but lacked the chops give the scene any nuance. If his macho menace had been undercut with a little seduction, the whole thing would have come off much better. I found myself thinking that John Leslie would have nailed it. And speaking of Leslie....


The next part of Flo's plan is bringing Roger to Sandra's estate to sell him on the film over dinner, drinks, and romance. I wonder if Leslie and St. James were ever an item in real life, because they sure had a lot of natural chemistry.


While they're getting it on, Sandra's in her room falling into fantasy. Sanda is laid out, nude on a table. The gardener from her past emerges from the darkness and goes to work on her. Then, another fantasy man (Mike Ranger) appears, followed by Flo. The three of them focusing on Sandra seem to be getting her close, but she's obviously distraught when the men finish on her belly (Morris) and face (Ranger) and her companions drift off, back to the darkness. (I'm assuming the set was a conscious nod to the stage in Behind the Green Door.)


In an effort to (literally) fill her void(s), she conjures John Holmes and his massive donger. Try as he might, though, even he's not able to sate Sandra's mouth, vagina, or ass (which, Jesus...), and when he also finishes, leaves Sandra hauntingly begging for more, directly to camera. To say it's a tonal shift for the film is an understatement. The film had been pretty breezy, soundtracked by folksy AM Gold rejects, but as the music fades out while Holmes is ejaculating, it's just 72 seconds of Sandra's panting, moaning, and pleas (reminiscent of the chilling opening of Devil in Miss Jones), fading to silence and darkness.


Interestingly, this fantasy occurs before the scenes earlier in the film when she's in London, telling her aunt (and herself, when she's thinking about Flo and Roger's marriage) that her independence "gets lonely at times, and hey, I do my share of complaining about it, but compared to the alternative, I think I'll leave it the way it is for now." So even if the viewer is left with a pretty somber assessment of Sandra's satisfaction, with the benefit of the doubt that she's not simply deluding herself, there's narrative proof that overall, she's actually pretty content. So that's something!

Insatiable is another film that I reviewed in the initial incarnation of Pornonomy. I saw that I gave it a B+, but didn't read what I wrote yet. I'll see what Roger Rimmer had to say about it and then circle around:

There is no plot to this film, but there is much wealthy ambience.... While I have given it a CC rating my feeling is that most women won't identify with Marilyn. All she wants to do is have sex. If most women feel the same way, they won't admit it to anyone.

Well, that's a little presumptive! Rimmer also bungled details including John Leslie's character's name (he calls him "Roger Renee," conflating Roger Adams and Renee Reynolds), and the timeline, but what else is new?

Insatiable is also one of AVN's 500 Greatest Adult Films of All Time, but the blurb isn't particularly enlightening.

It's also one of the All Time Top Ten from Jim Holliday's book, The Top 100 X-Rated Films of All Time.

 

Looking back, my review in December 2009 isn't markedly different than how I felt watching now. I ended that one with:

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+.

Arbitrary, indeed. New project, new grading scale. This time, Insatiable gets a whopping CC5.

RANDOM THOUGHTS
° While Marilyn Chambers sings the song used for the film's opening, a duet version of "Morning, Noon, and Nighttime" is reprised throughout.

° Godfrey Daniels (real name Stu Segal) had a pretty solid career as a producer and has a fucking killer website.


° The ADR on the film was outstanding. Which I realize is sort of a weird thing to notice.

° The photography was also frequently excellent:








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On deck:



Monday, June 14, 2021

Christy (1975)


The fourth longest review drought since reviving Pornonomy and I had to watch this turkey. Sheesh.

Valerie Marron is the titular Christy in Leon Gucci's film. She's at times a jailbait stripper, a sexual naif, and a hopeless romantic.

I think the idea is that she's so magnetic, no one around her can resist her: not her stripper best friend (Cindy West), not her artist suitor (Eric Edwards), not even her parents (Marc Stevens and Andrea True). It's not particularly well-communicated, though, and the tone of the movie is all over the place, from light and slapstick-adjacent (door-to-door lingerie salesman Harry Reems hawking his wares to True) to gritty and dark (Stevens getting knifed in Times Square while he and his wife are trying to find the bar Christy's dancing at).


The Reems/True scene was really the standout hardcore scene which is sort of an indictment of the film as a whole, because it's not like it was a real scorcher or anything. The only moderately remarkable thing about the picture was the soundtrack by '70s pop curio Sleepy Hollow. I wonder if they had any idea they contributed music to the film.


I'm very curious to see how Rimmer justified this as a Collector's Choice. Let's see, shall we?

The CC rating is not only for all the old-timers in one film but also for the unglamorous, but believable, second-floor Greenwich Village apartment environment. ...Most of these early films reflect a more naive and experimental quality than you'll find in current films. A few that I have given CC ratings do deal with aspects of real life.

I'm impressed that he explicitly stated his reasons for rating it a CC and while I can't argue in theory with his assessment, in practice Christy wasn't naive or experimental enough to rate as anything higher than a CC250.

RANDOM THOUGHTS
° Cindy West's stripper get up would fit right into a 2021 hipster's wardrobe:


° Tragic ends are a dime a dozen when you're talking about people in and around the porn world over the decades, but for some reason, reading about Levi Richard's death really surprised me.

° When I see Harry Reems, I'm often reminded of the truly horrendous job the ill-fated television show Swingtown did casting an actor to portray him:



° The trend for "reviews after substantial breaks" seems to be that the films are getting worse. Each time I've gone more than a month between reviews, the first review back as dropped from CC25 (47 days, That's Outrageous) to CC100 (45 days, Lady Dynamite) to CC200 (35 days, Carnal Haven) and now (34 days) CC250. I guess I have to keep a tighter schedule lest I end up really in the pits.

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Next (and hopefully better than Christy) is:


Oh, damn! "Better than Christy" is an understatement to say the least.