Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Boiling Point (1978)

About 15 minutes into Boiling Point (aka Intimate Illusions), I said I bet director Paul Levis had fewer than five adult film credits. Sure enough: Boiling Point was his one and only. I wonder if he had a sense that he was only going to make one film, because it was (at least) four separate half-baked ideas crammed into one movie.

First, in an opening reminiscent of Thoroughly Amorous Amy, Angel (Phaedra Grant) is walking through the streets of San Francisco to a song (presumably) called "City Girl," and it seems like it's going to focus on the life and times of a young lady in the city. When she gets back to her apartment, she calls Alex (John Seeman) for some phone sex, presented with some pretty clever set design.

The scene had a very play-like quality. After they both get off, Angel tells her phone partner they can smoke a cigarette and then she needs to go, adding "Here's looking at you kid," the first of multiple times the line pops up throughout the movie.

Angel heads down to the corner store for a pack of smokes, when a stick up kid (Jon Martin) rushes in to rob the joint. His heist is foiled by a shopping cop, Tony (John Leslie), so instead the criminal snatches Angel's purse and jets, leading to the most ambitious car chase I've ever seen in an adult film.

The chase has a bunch of side swiping and a couple of slapstick moments: a motorbiker flips over a car and into the bedroom of a couple doing it (a version of the "Thank you, God!" scene in Animal House)...

...and a parked driver (Jesse Adams) getting head experiencing the knocks his car takes from the chase first as ecstasy, then as distress (automobiles and oral sex don't mix, ala The World According to Garp).

Ultimately, the crook wrecks and takes off on foot and Tony decides that's enough chasing for the day so he takes Angel back to her place. They have a drink and - as you might expect - one thing leads to another.

(Side note: Grant's Million Dollar Baby shirt is fucking cool.)

During their foreplay, there's a jazzy, easy listening, lounge-y, exotica-adjacent song playing, but when the get down to business, the music cuts and is replaced by a sound collage of moans (including a few second clip that's looped, like, eight times). It's so weird and there's no apparent attempt at matching any of the sounds to the action on screen, that I'm led to believe that it was intentional, the first indication that this movie isn't what it seems to be (which will fully blow out by the end). (Speaking of blowing, while Phaedra Grant is going down on Leslie, the viewer gets a real up close and personal look at the odd "skin bridge" at his frenulum. I can't remember the first time I noticed it, but it really took me by surprise considering I'd seen dozens of Leslie films and had never seen it. I guess many directors, DPs, and cameramen tended to shoot around it.)

Meanwhile, the crook decides to hide out in a random house. Once inside, he identifies himself as the Westside Rapist to the woman (Eileen Welles) who answered the door. Rather than be concerned by the criminal in her home, the woman jumps TWR's bones and they proceed to get busy on the floor. While they're at it, the scene wipes to Tony and Angel enjoying a post-coital smoke, then back to a legitimately laugh-out-loud shot of the woman carrying TWR to the couch.

A third (and final) wipe back to Angel's bedroom where Tony makes a call home to his wife who, wouldn't you know it, turns out to be the woman whose home was invaded by the Westside Rapist. She answers the phone while blowing TWR, leading to a "don't talk with your mouth full" gag that must be in a thousand and one pornos. After the phone call, TWR and the lady of the house make their way to the bathtub for some, considering the frankly unpleasant looking positions they get into, impressively competent sex.

When Tony gets home, TWR dips out the back and boosts the unmarked cop car. While TWR's cruising down the road, he rolls up on a young lady (Lisa Sue Corey) on her way to babysit and offers her a ride.

Seeing his car, she assumes he's a cop and offers to help him trap the Westside Rapist by prentending to be a hooker. When he says he doesn't believe she'd be believable as a prostitute, she sets out to prove him wrong and you can probably guess how that turns out.

Then, the movie takes a hard turn. Rose (Paula Brown) takes a call in the bathtub and encourages the person on the other side to hurry up because they cryptically "really don't have much time." She dips her tongue in a glass of something like a grade A weirdo and then seems to trip balls.

Her dancing in front of her balcony sliding doors is cut with shots of her cavorting on a merry-go-round.

Like the Leslie/Grant scene, the sound editing is bonkers. The soundtrack is a slightly melancholy romantic piano number overlaid periodically with a sound effect that is (I assume) supposed to mimic the wind from outside, but the clip that's used sounds like it comes from a spooky sound effects record that'd be used to set the scene for an abandoned cabin and it fades in gradually and than cuts fast and completely: slow attack, no decay, three second sustain, .01 ms release.

When the scene cuts to the merry-go-round the main song keeps playing and is mashed up with the carousel music resulting in a really uncomfortable cacophony.

The scenes are edited to make them just this side of a nightmare, and then suddenly, back in her home, it's night.

It turns out the guest she'd been waiting on is the girl TWR had picked up, so then the ladies have some sapphic good times first on a waterbed...

...and then on a giant sheet of Mylar.

It's possible that this second bit may have been how the waterbed scene was playing out in Rose's brain because there was no transition into or out of it, and suddenly the women are dancing and kissing back in Rose's living room. By voice-over, Rose says, "I'm sorry you can't come to the disco with me tonight."

And then, off to the disco! (Where, best I can tell, Rose is not.)

The final 20 minutes are an increasingly debaucherous happening that includes The Filthy Four's performances of "Disco Daze" and "Suck on My Cock" - the former played while the front men were being fellated, that latter including a choreographed "dance" by the men and women in attendance.

The steadily increasing buckwildness of the disco reminded me of Climax (with considerably less, you know, madness and murder) and I bet shown the last scene (if not the film entirely), Gaspar Noe would give it a, "¡Magnífica!"

To date, I don't think I've been more curious as to what Robert Rimmer was going to say about a Collector's Choice pick:

Halfway through this one the director must have forgetten the story he was telling. The last half has no connection to the first, but offers one of the most effective bisexual sequences I've ever seen, followed by a surrealistic orgy.

It's weird to me when Rimmer refers to what is traditionally called girl/girl or lesbian as bisexual. I mean, he's not technically wrong as one of the participants in the scene he's referring to (Correy) did have sex with both a man (Martin) and woman (Brown), just not at the same time. Describing it in terms of "effectiveness" is also sort of bizarre. Maybe he was thinking of it in terms of "affecting" and miswrote. Similar to how he identified John Leslie's character (Tony) as "Tosy" and repeated the typo another half-dozen times.

At any rate, as is so often the case, the review is pretty much just a plot (such as it is) recap - with a few minor errors, which is par for the course; major errors occur, too, just less frequently - with no real indication why it should be collected.

I think the surreality could have been pushed a little harder (really lean into the moan looping in the Grant/Leslie scene; add an out-of-nowhere laugh track to the scene wipes between Grant/Leslie and Welles/Martin) to great effect. As it is, though, I can honestly say it's unlike any adult film I've seen to date and while the overall quality probably rates in the CC100 range, the novelty of the disco scene (and especially the choreography) will bump it to a CC50.

° Nubar Zozaya is credited with Music By. I don't know if that means he was in charge of picking songs off of library music collections for the score, if he had anything to do with "City Girl" (which sure sounds like it could have been recorded by the same band from the disco scene), or both. There is a song called "Dump Truck" by Lil Zoza purportedly released by Nubar Zozaya Productions in 2017. It appears to be NZP's only release and an earworm it ain't. Adding another level of absurdity is that someone found the song and used the fact that it sorta sounds like "dump Trump" to make an anti-Trump (and pro-dump truck?) video.

° When Phaedra Grant said, "Here's looking at you, kid," she put the emphasis on "looking" which sounded odd to me since most people who quote the line emphasize "you" as Jon Martin did later:

Turns out, though, Humphrey Bogart did emphasize "looking" though not quite as hard as Phaedra Grant. John Leslie actually hit the nail pretty squarely on the head with his line read:

° The Filthy Four was one of the names (with the Confederates and the Rude Five) of the backing band Elvis Costello worked with after the Attractions, though I'm guessing the band in Boiling Point was not them.


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Monday, August 2, 2021

Sweet Young Foxes (1983)

With Sweet Young Foxes, Bob Chinn presented a surprisingly insightful look at the breadth of female sexuality. In truth, had I watched the film by myself, I almost certainly would have missed a lot of the thematic subtleties, but fortunately my wife attended the screening (in our living room) and picked up on them and clued me in. Our conversation after the end credits gave me a much deeper appreciation for Foxes than I would've had on my own.

Ostensibly about three young women - Laura (Hyapatia Lee), Maggie (Cara Lott), and Kim (Cindy Carver) - celebrating the end of their first year of college, the actual story is the complexity of transitioning from girlhood to womanhood.

While the college girls are getting a taste of independence, all three still live at home and have varying degrees of tension with their parents. Laura's parents are divorced and while she lives with her mother, Julie (Kay Parker) their relationship is volatile to say the least.

Julie takes issue with the hours Laura keeps, but you can't help but wonder if she's at least partially envious of Laura's youth and freedom. In a beautifully shot bathroom/shower scene that takes place while Julie's getting ready for her date with two-year beau Raymond (Eric Edwards), Julie examines her womanly body in the mirror, wordlessly conveying push and pull of youth and vibrance against sexual maturity and confidence.

That scene alone would have been enough to win Parker the AFAA Best Supporting Actress Award she received for the film in 1983.

Maggie is constantly self-medicating in order to fight off the misery she feels when she's "straight." Pot seems like her drug of choice, but after getting past the smell, she takes to Scotch okay, introduced to it by Mark (Ron Jeremy) and later offered some by Miranda (Pat Manning), the hostess of the party that acts as a real turning point for each of the ladies (but more on that later).

Kim is an anxious naif. Unlike Laura, who's stoked to be done with school for the year, Kim's concerned about the grade on her final final, fearing her dad will take away her car if she doesn't do well enough. She also admits to Laura that she's been afraid of the dark since she was a girl. Once when she was seven or eight, after her mother tucked her in and turned out the light, she bugged out until her father came in to comfort her. When she was just about asleep, he was about to turn out the light when he froze, with a look on his face that stuck with Kim, torn between what was the right or wrong thing to do: turn off the light to help his daughter learn there was nothing to be afraid of or leave it on to spare her the fear and discomfort. It was a pretty deft way to suggest the concerns and difficulites that come with the increased responsibility of adulthood. When Laura asks Kim if she ever figured out what caused her fear, Kim just replies she, "more or less accepted it. [She's] just waiting for the day [she] grow[s] out of it," making her fear of the dark a symbol of childhood, generally.

After the groundwork is laid for the ladies as "girls," they end up at the aforementioned party that will help turn them into women. As a precursor, though, they spend some time getting ready together, doing makeup and picking out dresses. The common ritual among women of a certain age (or so I've been told) is an important part of trying out different facets of one's personality, or in the case of borrowing clothes, a friend's. When Maggie does Kim's makeup, with bold eyes and lipstick, Laura says she "never knew Kim had a side like that." When Kim puts on a hot little dress to boot, she's a far cry from her polka dot skirt and simple cotton underwear.

For all over her presumed maturity, Laura still had some starry-eyed ideas of romance. Writing in her diary at the beginning of the film, she wondered how she'd make it without her boyfriend Alex (then real life husband Bud Lee), who'd been away for school at Harvard (while she was at Cal State) and was spending the summer in Europe with his parents.

She writes, "All I can do is remember the way he holds me wants me. How he takes me in his arms. Full of desire and emotion. The look in his eyes when he merges his body with mine." All the while, she's fantasizing about making love on a bearskin-ish rug in front of a fireplace, the trope-iest trope of romantic sex ever troped.

At the party, Laura sees Alan (Carl Lincoln) who was a senior when she was a freshman in high school, and confesses that she had a crush on him and was disappointed he never asked her out despite dating every other eligible girl in school. They find themselves an empty room at the party to right that years-old wrong.

Kim, meanwhile, is chatted up by Greg (Blair Harris). When they find themselves an empty room, Kim frets that she should have said something to Laura and Maggie before heading off, and explaining that Laura is sort of her guardian angel, and the despite Maggie getting high all the time, she's actually quite sensitive. Greg cuts her off to ask if she doesn't ever talk about what kind of person she is, and that she seems kind and sensitive. Even if it's just a line (though Greg does seem sincere), it's enough to throw caution to the wind and get hers.

Finally, Maggie meets Miranda who gives her a tour of the house. Settled into their own private room, Miranda introduces Maggie to the wonder of a woman's touch. Turn about being fair play, Maggie makes sure Miranda gets hers, too.

The natural flow of the scene is in sharp contrast to Maggie's scene with Mark. Where Miranda is comfortable and confident, Mark is pompous ("You're over your freshman year. Nobody smokes grass anymore.") and condescending ("No, I don't think you're a virgin or something, but I don't think you've been made love to the way a woman should be.") After Mark finishes, giving Maggie the facial she (literally) asked for, Ron Jeremy gave Cara Lott a "boop" on the nose that caused her to flinch.

Despite it being punctuated with a tipmani strike in the soundtrack, I'd wager it was unscripted, and Chinn couldn't have asked for a better second-and-a-half to demonstrate the difference between Maggie's hetero- and homosexual encounters in the film. It also shed a whole different light on Maggie's earlier assertion that she's miserable when she's straight....

The morning after the party, Laura has gone from wondering how she'll make it three months without Alex to how she'll find time for all the men filling up her dance card (including her dance teacher).

At the very least, she'll have ample freedom and opportunity since her mother is moving to St. Paul with Raymond (oh, right, over dinner Raymond told Julie he was offered a job in St. Paul that would allow him to do the research he really wanted to do and he wanted her to go with him; Julie was conflicted, but his position ultimately won out. And by position, I mean legs-on-shoulders, hey-o!)

...and with Maggie's father saying she should keep Laura company and Kim's parents in Europe 'til Christmas.

My one beef with the film is the title. A viewer would be more than forgiven expecting a light-hearted romp featuring insatiable nymphets. That film, this ain't. Even something as simple as Laura, Maggie, and Kim would suffice (even if that might imply there'd be a sapphic three-way or two).

Let's see what Rimmer's take was:

Good dialogue, nice sharp color, and a slice-of-life story that's interesting to watch.

Accurate. Way to go, Bob.

It's always interesting to see a Collector's Choice, award-winning film with weak magazine reviews (Adam Film World and Hustler Erotic Video didn't think much of the picture, apparently). I really do believe it was a marketing issue though. If you do away with any preconceived notions from the title, this is a really solid movie that I'll rate a CC25.

° The opening credits point out that Pat Manning was Hustler's October '82 centerfold.

The magazine leaned into Manning (or Shirley, as she's named in the mag) as being 50 years old (a claim parroted by Robert Rimmer), despite her reportedly being born in 1940, which would've only made her 42. I guess if mature porn star is your hook, you might as well go for it.

° A couple of names that jumped out from the credits were DP Jack Remy (tip of the cap to him; the movie really looked great) and Production Assistant Jim Holliday.

° Bob Chinn had a nice little Hyapatia Lee Suite in 1983, releasing Body Girls, Let's Get Physical, Sweet Young Foxes, and Young Like It Hot (four of Lee's first five features, in fact), all but one (Body Girls) getting a Collector's Choice from Rimmer. (He thought Hyapatia and Bud Lee - who wrote it - missed too many opportunities to ratchet up the comedy and that Hyapatia wore too much makeup.) Hyapatia Lee's non-Chinn '83 movie, Naughty Girls Need Love Too, also got a CC.

° The December 1983 Erotic Film Guide was a Hyapatia Lee feature, including previews of three of her films and and interview.

° Paul Thomas conducted the interview and wrote two of the previews (Let's Get Physical and Body Girls) and were fun little reads.

Unfortunately, the uncredited preview of Sweet Young Foxes sucked.



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.

° 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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