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Pretentious porn trying way too hard for significance
Richard Robinson is a classic case of a porn filmmaker who displayed enough talent to go mainstream but never got a break. Even Joe Sarno ended up making hundreds of films & videos without ever having a shot at the big time (unlike 20th Century-Fox giving his contemporary Russ Meyer a multi-picture deal). Such is the pigeon-holing fate of a pornographer.
IS THERE SEX AFTER MARRIAGE (with no question mark, on purpose) is Robinson's attempt to be the next Paul Mazursky. Needless to say he ran this baby up the flag pole and nobody saluted.
Unlike his next film which was a XXX classic covering similar thematic ground, this project is strictly single-X, with lengthy sex scenes halting the action (and ruining the pacing, as is usual in porn) but only simulated in content. Casting hardcore performers Candy Samples and Sandy Dempsey to just fake it is something of a bait and switch.
John Dullaghan, who looks and acts as if he's planning to leapfrog over Mazursky and go directly to work for John Cassavetes instead (in a John Marley role) toplines as a middle-aged husband whose wife no longer satisfies him. She's become frumpy in every detail, right down to her hairdo which once upon a time attracted his boyish interest in the first place.
Robinson's key casting decision threw me for a loop: the wife is portrayed by one-shot Lori Brown, who during the first reel had me reacting with: "she's a Sandy Dempsey type, but not pretty". What a shock when a couple of reels later the REAL Sandy Dempsey shows up as a $100 a night hooker, who services Dullaghan and even elicits a crush from him until he soon comes back to earth and realizes she is only stroking his ego for the hundred bucks.
This doppelganger casting is mighty ambitious; by film's end when wifey gets dolled up she really looks like Dempsey, with a virtually identical figure and the same facial features. Dempsey doesn't show her butterfly tattoo in this film, adding to the duo's interchangeability.
Where Robinson errs, and hurts his film irremediably early on, is an overt sexism and misogyny that Mazursky, Cassavetes and other big-time filmmakers would tone down, though Cassavetes was certainly criticized on those grounds when HUSBANDS was released two years before this movie. Dullaghan is so unsympathetic, even raping his wife in an early scene when she won't acquiesce to her "marriage duties", that it throws the drama off and seems like needless pandering to the presumed "creeps" who make up an Adult Theater audience. Robinson can't have it both ways: if he's auditioning for the chance to make "real" movies, he's got to rise above such easy outs.
Like his big-name peers, Robinson emphasizes the colorful sidekicks in this opus. Tony Deluca, who hammed his way through a XXX role in the horrible porn movie THE EROTIC BOUTIQUE, is overbearing as Dullaghan's co-worker, always patting their secretary Rainbow Robbins on the behind and generally being the bad influence on John. Robbins is wasted here, but graduated to the starring role and a wonderful performance in Robinson's next picture, the XXX "Marriage and Other Four Letter Words".
While Deluca is dragging John to see skin flicks on their lunch hour, as well as fixing him up with hooker Dempsey while he balls a luscious one-shot Monica Walters, wife Lori is under the spell of her REALLY bad influence gal pal Candy Samples. Candy's solution for marital problems is to bring her British sex counselor Kelly Waring (Beerbohn Tree using a pseudonym) into the picture.
Benedict demonstrates how to liven up one's sex life using Candy as a partner and soon Lori is dreaming of having sex with him, even when she's in bed beside hubby John. Ultimately they do get it on, and his advice turns the trick in giving John & Lori a rejuvenated happy ever after in the sack. Film's finale is pure '60s: a slo-mo S.O.L.I. of the married duo nude jumping in their pool.
Along the way Robinson slips in a delicious (if obvious) satire of the white-coater genre, a type of porn he worked in via his debut film THE ABC'S OF MARRIAGE. Benedict, with proper British accent, gives a play by play description of his sex with Candy, which eventually exasperates Lori, let alone the viewer.
It would have been interesting, and helpful to the filmmaker, if Robinson had shown a rough cut of this film or the ones directly preceding and following it, to Al Ruban, Cassavetes' producer and a one-time pornographer (soft division) himself. I think Ruban could have helped him remove the questionable material that drags the movie down, and who knows, with proper networking Robinson might have earned a step up the showbiz ladder.
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