Larry Revene ranks as one of the most successful photographers turned fornication filmmakers, striking up a fruitful professional relationship with Chuck Vincent, starting with the director's 1978 landmark JACK 'N JILL. In return, Vincent offered unconditional as well as unwavering friendship, nurturing his protégé's tentative talents to full bloom. Downside, if one can call it that, was that Vincent proved perhaps a touch too hands on in his cash flow capacity with Larry's fledgling filmmaking efforts coming out virtual carbon copies of his own past successes.
Comparable to Chuck, Larry has often been accused of being entirely too polite for pornography, a consummate craftsman for sure but lacking the dirty mind that could make his sex scenes sizzle. Closer scrutiny reveals that in either case such reputation was unwarranted. Revene's forte turned out to be sensuality, an elusive ingredient sorely lacking from most porn. In fact, as a cinematographer he had practically pioneered the use of softer flattering lighting. His turn at the helm trumpeted the arrival of a true eroticist, sensitive to the flick of a tongue or a furtive caress to help create a mood that makes the breathing grow heavier. Ironically however, Larry's most sustained stab at sensuality occurred on a strange little movie remaining casually overlooked to this very day...
BLUE MAGIC proved a problematic project for the usually laid-back Larry, not in the least because of supposed star Candida Royalle wreaking all kinds of havoc he could not possibly predict. Already an established adult actress as well as an outspoken feminist, she had congenially collaborated on Revene's earlier romps SIZZLE and FASCINATION. She had found an attentive ear when voicing the desire to write her first screenplay, expressing her views on womanhood in general and female sexuality in particular, playing out for contrast against an early 20th century time frame, an era when women were traditionally seen though rarely heard. His interest piqued, Larry put the wheels in motion, blindly trusting Royalle to keep up her creative end of the bargain. As the date of shooting grew near, cast and crew readily assembled, he still had little more substantial than a few pages of scribbled synopsis to work from. When badgered, the inexperienced authoress claimed total ignorance to the demands of scripting, believing her work already done ! Parading around the palatial premises like a legend in her own mind yielded another unforeseen side effect by the time Larry came to shoot Candida's big sex scene as she materializes amidst a crowd of revelers to lure the detective to his doom. Technically bisexual but mostly gay, Wrangler would prove an iffy prospect under the most relaxed of working conditions. He turned out fatally limp and the encounter looks suspiciously faked. Fraught with peril from day one, it's a tribute to the talents of all others involved that the movie comes out looking as good as it does.
I have no idea who came across the pristinely preserved property that doubles as the narrative's capital Woodhurst Castle but its discovery counts as a singular stroke of incredibly good fortune on a project in dire need of such. Another would be the concise but excellent cast Revene managed to round up. Wrangler had an extensive background in theater to fall back on, serving him well as he has to impart much of the movie's somewhat clumsily constructed plot exposition. As Matthew Getty of the Brown & Getty detective agency, he has infiltrated the selective social club where the mysterious owner of the castle recruits guests for regular gatherings none of the participants can recall anything about after-wards. Records reveal that the last surviving member of the Woodhurst family would now have to be well over two centuries old ! Socialites arrive at the mansion one by one, save for the sole married couple among them, Bart and Sarah, played by George Payne (another gay crossover) and Samantha Fox who exhibit believable spousal chemistry. The gradual peeling away of Sam's elaborate costume should suffice to send lovers of period finery into a tizzy.
Characters are conveniently defined by temperament. The aptly named Maria (Merle Michaels) is a pious virgin, reigned in and not just in the corsetary sense, while the studious and soft-spoken Jenny (Veronica Hart) provides the contrasting voice of reason. Adversely asked to act, Ron Hudd's credibly cast as the priggishly wooden Richard, compensating his utter lack of thespian prowess with studly grandeur. Perhaps the biggest surprise comes courtesy of Patty Boyd (or "Josie Jones" whenever employed by either Chuck or Larry), who barely registers a footnote in anyone's account of adult history, commanding the screen with unprecedented assurance as the ebullient Loretta.
The plot such as it is rapidly degenerates into an almost perfunctory scavenger hunt for a bottle of aphrodisiac as Candida sits cackling in her paraphernalia-strewn basement supposedly orchestrating the orgy upstairs. Surprisingly, the saving grace is the sex, near constant after a slow start, with an already seasoned cast commendably chomping at the bit to get into each other's drawers. Hart and Hudd share a scorching library liaison, only topped by the diminutive Merle's tantalizing transformation into dominatrix whipping Hudd and Payne into shape in the startling stable sequence. Fox looks positively flushed when Hart gets under her skirts, a rare opportunity to witness these two pillars of porn doing a scene together, beautifully building towards an unrushed climax. Boyd's threesome with Michaels and Wrangler, set to the strains of an antique Victrola no less, provides playful eye candy and even the daisy chain group grope does not disappoint, at least until Royalle pops up for its underwhelming last call. Like those who went before, Matthew's mind draws a blank the next day. Taken as a whole, the movie may ultimately be too compromised to qualify among Revene's finer filmmaking endeavors yet still ranks as a sleeper worthy of rediscovery for those who can appreciate the mood inherent to its languid approach to encroaching eroticism over narrative complexity.
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