Porn is back at Anthology Film Archives, in the continuing series – TrustMovies

Unlike some of you younger cats, TrustMovies remembers well the 1970s and the coming of adult moves that were suddenly OK (if not required) viewing for couples who wanted to cement their up-to-the-minute, anything-goes standing as card-carrying liberals who couldn’t possibly be offended by a little hardcore action. Soon we were all up to our ears in Deep Throat, Behind the Green Door, The Devil in Miss Jones and whichever else XXX-rated delight caught some of the media’s fancy. Hardcore porn suddenly became “entertainment” — if you just added the bare minimum of plot and a joke or two. And believe me, that was just about all those movies ended up offering. Except their hardcore scenes, of course.Nearly overnight, it seemed, even certain well-known critics were heralding the possibility of a new age of films that offered everything we all loved about movies — great stories told with fabulous acting, writing and direction — plus hardcore sex. Hmmm… Wondered why that never happened? Still, those in the porn industry began giving themselves “Best” awards, while critics kept discovering “new” porn films that were, why, practically as good as regular movies! The word practically is key; in reality those porn films were nowhere near as good as even mediocre standard movies. They existed to keep the trenchcoat set satisfied.
Then, with the turn of the new millennium, movie-makers began again to find new ways to offer up real sex to audiences — but this time coming a hell of a lot closer to good movies by making some good movies that just happened to include sex scenes with real, hardcore sex. There have been a number of these films over the past decade or so. Right now only a few come to immediate mind — Michael Winterbottom’s Nine Songs, John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus, and Philippe Diaz’s Now & Later – but the point remains that this has been a much more productive way to make sex of all kinds more mainstream than was the 1970s pretense/attempt to upgrade triple-X-rated movies.

Which brings us to the latest foray into this subject by the noteworthy and much-loved folk at Anthology Film Archives, who are this coming week treating New York City and environs to another bout of In the Flesh, the series inaugurated last December that claims to explore “the period affectionately known as ‘porno chic’ (1972-75), when sexually explicit films mixed hardcore sex with top-notch production values and compelling stories, with every screening featuring appearances by filmmakers, performers, or crew members, as well as critics, scholars, and other participants in the ‘Golden Age’ of adult cinema.”Some golden age. I take special issue with the above terms “compelling stories” and “top-notch production values.” But, hey, everything is relative, right? In the Flesh is back this month with its second season, this time highlighting what it calls Porn Noir. There’s some nice alliteration there, otherwise, it’s business as usual. And when the AFA’s press release claims that, with these four films, “The sexual tension created between noir anti-heroes and seductive femmes fatales could now be embellished and visualized, to the delight of both the raincoat crowd and cultured moviegoers,” I beg to differ. These movies are totally “raincoat crowd” oriented. Imagining that cultured moviegoers might actually enjoy this mix is rather like insisting on there being noticeable French influence here because the screenwriter used the words hors d’oeuvres.
As my spouse noted, after watching about 25 minutes of THE DOUBLE EXPOSURE OF HOLLY, “This isn’t even up to the level of camp!” Indeed it is not. (Though one of these films actually is; see further down the post.) Directed by first-timer Bob Gill (unless this was a pseudonym) and supposedly full of twists and turns, the movie begins and ends as a kind of shaggy dog story about a bitchy young woman out to screw her way to fortune. The final surprise rests rather shakily upon the notion that our non-heroine can’t tell the difference between the very big and very hard cock possessed by black-haired, curly-locked star Jamie Gillis and that of blondish/light-brown-haired actor Don Peterson. (The genitals here are not shaved, by the way.) Yeah, right. The film also manages, as ever, to include a long and completely unnecessary sex scene between characters we don’t know or care about who happen into the hotel room that has been set up with hidden cameras for the blackmail scheme. This turns out to be the longest sex scene in the entire film — yet plot-wise, it’s pointless. But the raincoat set won’t mind.

The one film that touches camp stars the good-natured, though always-out-of-his-element porn actor, Harry Reems, who here must rise to the dramatic occasion in which he discovers his beloved wife raped and murdered. As usual, Mr. Reems rises only below the belt. SEX WISH, aka The Night Walker and directed by Victor Milt (aka Tim McCoy), purports to be part of this Porn Noir series, but it is nowhere near noir. (The washed-out lighting is so bad, in fact, that in one scene that features a black couple screwing, their skin actually looks white.)  The story, of a serial killer with a cane that hides his sword, is from hunger, and the performance by the actor who plays the killer is so over-the-top as to be funny. The violence, by today’s standards, is puny, and the film’s resolution is among the silliest in the history of cinema.The one relatively “good” film in the bunch is by director Armand Weston, who made a few of the “classier” porn flicks. EXPOSE ME, LOVELY, filmed in 1976, is nearly a direct nod to the Robert Mitchum starrer, Farewell, My Lovely, made the previous year. In plot, characters, and style of writing and directing, both movies reflect each other rather charmingly, with Expose Me, of course, noticeably the lesser of the two — except for its many hardcore scenes, which are done with enough verve to make them able to be sat through without fast-forwarding. The cast is good enough to mimic the necessary style decently, and the leading man (Ras Kean, who made ten films in two years and managed to go from Ras King to Ras Keen to Ras Kean) proves just about able to carry the film via his much worked-over member and big blond locks (this is the 1970s, when big hair on both men and women was the watchword). Each suspect takes her sexual tumble, and the unmasking of the villain will not be the least bit unexpected to those of us who lived through this very anti-gay period.

What would a porn festival be without at least one good mess of pomposity? You’ll get it here in spades with CORRUPTION, by Roger Watkins, working under his porn pseudonym of Richard Mahler. The movie certainly has something on its tiny mind (much more on its big dick: Jamie Gillis stars again), but what that something is defies explanation. Words like love and power and (in the press release) existential crop up, but oddly enough, not the word that most ought to: pretentiousness. The nearly non-existent story has a businessman (Gillis) undergoing a moment of crisis and of course finding himself eating just loads of pussy. Twice in this short film, he goes from room to room to room, experiencing or watching a different kind of sex in each. The music is classical and romantic; the film, as all these are, is casually anti-gay; and the sexuality covers everything from fucking and sucking to S&M and necrophilia.As mentioned, it’s all here, and all available at Anthology Film Archives beginning this Thursday, March 27, through Sunday, March 30, nightly at 8pm. Click on the correct link following for schedule, directions, and tickets.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>