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Radley Metzger followed his masterpiece THE OPENING OF MISTY BEETHOVEN
with this light 'n' breezy comedy of bad manners that offers nearly
wall to wall sex mixed with the director's customary wit and elegance.
Many longtime adult film fans regard this as their favorite Metzger
movie, undoubtedly based on a couple of knockout erotic sequences that
are among the most memorable he or any other carnal creator for that
matter has ever put upon the blue screen. Personally, I think the
film is a bit uneven with a faltering narrative primarily designed to
accommodate the required number of frequently hot sex scenes, which
makes it forever a runner-up to the likes of MISTY and THE PRIVATE
AFTERNOONS OF PAMELA MANN.
Exception to the rule is the first 20 minutes or so, set in the restaurant where celebrity prostitute à la Xaviera Hollander Barbara Broadcast (industry icon Annette Haven) is interviewed by eager beaver journalist C.J. Laing. This lengthy sequence is bustling with all sorts of naughtiness, rendered even more arousing by the surreal humor sprouting from the casual attitude adopted by the participants, like an extended version of MISTY's airplane footage. Customer Zebedy Colt, who played the bisexual manservant in Gerard Damiano's STORY OF JOANNA, is served lunch in the form of waitress Clea Carson, a reliable second-stringer in both Armand Weston's TAKE OFF and Chuck Vincent's BAD PENNY. Well-endowed waiter Peter Andrews (nicknamed "the Horse" for obvious reasons, memorable as the star's partner in the opening scene of ALL ABOUT GLORIA LEONARD) supplies his own brand of salad dressing on the spot before he's whisked away by extremely hungry customer Susan McBain (the lonely call girl from Damiano's ODYSSEY) for one of the all time great oral encounters. She also has one of the film's funniest lines as she remarks how you really have to keep track of your waiter at a Caucasian restaurant because they all tend to look alike ! A lovely black actress identified in the credits as Shirley Peters, who also appeared with Harry Reems in Tim McCoy's ultra-obscure EROTIC DR. JEKYLL, shows up for her salad at Barbara's table but is quickly distracted by the amorous advances of handsome Alan Marlow. Waitresses break dishes all over the place, for which they have to pay the Maitre d' (the late Bobby Astyr) in kind, and admirers (watch for a youthful David Savage, the frisky office boy who kept unloading onto secretary Day Jason's face in one of PAMELA MANN's most memorable running jokes) keep interrupting Barbara's interview for signatures and "a little head" ! The pace and structure of this entire sequence shows Metzger at his finest and made me wish the whole film had been like that.
Unfortunately, the movie tends to fall apart somewhat at this point or at least settles into a more conventional adult film format. Barbara excuses herself to turn a trick across town at the office of busy business man Michael Gaunt, an excellent actor in Richard Mahler's American BABYLON, that is almost entirely devoid of dialog in sharp contrast to the previous scene. C.J., a vastly underrated performer with a distinctly submissive slant in fabulously filthy fare like Shaun Costello's SLAVE OF PLEASURE, does her one better however in the legendary kitchen encounter with sweaty dishwasher Wade Nichols, star of Chuck Vincent's ambitious VISIONS. Great build-up as they longingly stare at each other from across the steam-filled room. Laing grins in defiance as she squats to urinate into a bowl before receiving a killer rectal reaming that's on pretty much everyone's short list for best sex scene ever.
It's off to the disco next with Annette and C.J. making out on the dance floor while burly guys arm-wrestle at a nearby table (huh ?), oblivious to the girls' groping. They retreat to a stairwell where they are joined by Barbara's business partner Jamie Gillis for an intriguingly shot threesome that employs extreme close-ups to obscure the identity of the participants for a good part of the scene. Finally, Jamie and Annette flash back in horror to their experiences with a stuck-up PAP (Protestant American Princess) who worked for them, just an excuse to stick in some left-over footage from MISTY with Jamie and Constance Money that's heavy on B&D with ropes and nipple clamps. After that, the movie just stops rather than ends.
The way I see it, Metzger got a bit frustrated with the limitations of the hardcore format, having taken it as far as he could go with MISTY. The luxurious restaurant scenes, shot in the grand lobby of New York's bankrupt and boarded up Royal Manhattan Hotel at 44th and 8th - furnishings and fancy dinner ware being actively auctioned off while filming was still very much in progress ! - currently living out its life as the Milford Plaza (as was part of his last porn film, MARASCHINO CHERRY, shot semi-simultaneously but released the following year), suggest that he entered into the project with great enthusiasm but much of what follows feels slightly formulaic, as if he felt thwarted in the lofty ambitions he hoped to achieve but couldn't because of time and budgetary restraints, not to mention MISTY's arduous post-production period. Don't get me wrong, it's still a terrific adult film. Lighting and cinematography in particular are as good as you're ever going to find in the porno field.
A classy porn, to be sure, but for a real classic, check out Metzger's The Opening of Misty Beethoven. The opening scene of Barbara is set in a fantastically realized sex restaurant, where the items on the menu are the waiters and waitresses themselves. The plot is much less intricate than Misty Beethoven, but Metzger is still very clever in the ways he fills the screen with the requisite amount of flesh and fornication while maintaining a level of wit and sophistication. C. J. Laing, as the reporter, has an amazing scene with a beefcake-y dishwasher dude in the kitchen of the sex restaurant. You get the impression that these two people were really having sex with each other and enjoying it and the camera was simply recording. In most modern porn the sex seems like a contractual obligation rather than any real expression of sexuality. Hoo-rah for classic porn!
This is a pretty good porn film by any standard. The opening scene is one you will not forget, as restaurant patrons have their appetites filled. Annette Haven will always be the most beautiful actress of this era, perhaps even of the entire genre to this day. Her strength is establishing a foundation, through dialog, for her sex scenes. She can make you think that she absolutely wants to do what she is doing. Plus, that girl next door look gets me every time. One drawback, of this film and perhaps all of those from its period, to me, is that the guys look so strange. They look like that Roberto Benini (sp?) guy. Oh well. Check out this film. It's probably a good one for couples as well.
Radley Metzger is a director I will always know best for his fantastic 'The Punishment of Anne', which also happens to be one of my very favourite porn films of all time. He would go on to make Barbara Broadcast two years later and while it's certainly a good and interesting little film; it doesn't have much on Metzger's earlier masterpiece. The film does attempt to be a bit more than merely another porn flick and it seems like the director is trying to make some sort of social commentary, though of course the sex is always the star and for the most of the duration; I couldn't really care much less about what the film is trying to say. In terms of the sex scenes themselves; I have to say that there isn't much here that I haven't seen already in other porn films, but what makes this one stand out really is the music, which features throughout most of the film and gives it a feeling all of it's own. The film is a bit choppy and doesn't really follow a strict narrative - there are times when you are likely to know what is going on, and many when you won't have a clue. I can certainly recommend that hardcore fans check this one out because it is well worth seeing; but I wouldn't put it at the very top of the genre.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Former high-class prostitute and noted author Barbara Broadcast (the legendary Annette Haven at her most elegant and entrancing) gets interviewed at a posh gourmet restaurant by lusty journalist Roberta (the ever-dishy C.J. Laing). Naturally, at this particular restaurant sex is on the menu instead of food. Writer/director Radley Metzger does his trademark masterful job of meticulously crafting a deliriously erotic and intoxicating atmosphere. For example, the memorably torrid kitchen encounter between Laing and the hunky Wade Nichols rates as one of the single most steamy (both literally and figuratively) set pieces ever committed to celluloid. Haven's scene in an office with Michael Gaunt seriously sizzles as well. Ditto the scorching girl-on-girl session between Haven and Laing on the staircase of a discotheque. Moreover, the extended BDSM sequence between Jamie Gillis and the delectable Constance Money totally hits the scorching spot. In addition, there's a plethora of familiar 70's porn faces featured throughout: Barbara Daniels, Zebedy Colt, Susan McBain, Tony Mansfield (a sidesplitting bit as Harvey the Wallbanger), Shirley Peters, Alan Marlow, and even a super young (and insanely cute) Sharon Mitchell. However, Bobby Astyr almost steals the whole show with his deft comic turn as a strict Maître d' who makes his errant co-workers "take it out in trade." Further enhanced by a wickedly funny sense of nice'n'naughty humor (the blasé attitude of the restaurant patrons concerning all the frequent carnal activity in the place provides the best and biggest laughs), a spot-on groovy soundtrack, an engagingly free-form episodic narrative structure (it's more about the sultry mood than the story), and sumptuous cinematography by Chico Carter and Larry Revene, this one makes for absolutely essential viewing for aficionados of 70's adult cinema.
This movie is another sub-realist creation of Henry Paris. The stetic
aspect is more elaborated than The Opening of Misty Bethofen, but the
movie is plot less.
The good: Very good looking actress, perfect photography in some scenes, and that subreal world.
The Bad: Most scenes are just a waste of time, and even not erotic or exiting at all.
If you want to see this movie just FastForward to the Disco sequence. Is like a short movie inside the movie, and maybe the only cool thing to see.
I strongly don't recommend this movie unless your a fan of the 70's porno genre.It is quite tame by today's standard,but the plot is just as incoherent as the modern porn plot.Barbara Broadcast is a author who takes tricks on the side because its so much fun!She is not that bad looking of a lady,kind of like a Julieann Moore type.Only thing is she is not nearly as attractive.Attractiveness is not found at all in this movie,plastic surgery wasn't as relevant as it is now.A guy could probably see better looking girls at his local watering hole.There is a dude who has a cool porno mustache that was amusing.If going to the XXX movie theater's remind you of the gold old days than see this movie.Than seek help.
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