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In the fall of 1976 I was in the midst of moving to a farm in Krumville, New York when the phone rang. It was Sid Levine, the front man for the porno unit of the Gambino crime family. I was... See full summary »
Carlos Tobalina is on a massive ego trip in REFINEMENTS IN LOVE, a routine porn movie reflective of the fake, self-referential documentaries of the early hardcore era.
It has been reissued on DVD by Impulse Pictures, and receives the same phony hype as latter's recent umpteenth reissue of the equally lame APHRODISIAC! feature about marijuana.
Fake TV interviews and documentary material introduce us to Tobalina, showing his lavish Hollywood estate and pro filming equipment, which he would use to shoot many a potboiler. Unlike the lion's share of '70s pornographers (naturally skittish about getting arrested), he seems upfront about his identity, although he was later to wise up and sign most of his movies and videos with the fake moniker "Troy Benny".
Lame hostess for the proceedings is Liz Renay, having trouble pronouncing her words but pretending to be impressed. We're first informed that Tobalina has won an award at Cannes (not the main fest, of course) for a forgotten film DOUBLE INITIATION, which is duly featured on a theater marquee later in this doc.
Explicit porn, stag reel style, is shown during a tour of his mansion, with no attempt at matching here, or elsewhere, the color or film stock. We see a premiere replete with dancing girls of "I AM CURIOUS TAHITI" at Las Palmas theater which he owns, and it becomes clear that he made a fortune as a theater chain owner during porn's early days.
Liz shows us a case history about divorce starring Carmen Olivera and William Howard that is pure filler, softcore to boot. A phony shrink "J.D. Lawrence" is interviewed and the film launches full-steam into proselytizing mode about the infinite harm sexual repression (blamed vaguely on Victorians, Puritans and "the church") had done to our country. Corporations are also blamed for funding morality crusades that distract us from the real issues. Welcome Carlos to the 21st Century and a hyperactive right wing that under Reagan was just getting warmed up when you shot this junker.
A phony Dr. Livingston presents a case history of nymphomania, always a solid topic for porn. He fondles a naked blonde and then cheerfully violates his ethics by shtupping her (his patient) under a hypnotic trance. This ugly, dirty old man scene best typifies the sleazy Tobalina approach -not erotic or arousing but merely gross.
Film clumsily reverts to the divorce case history, but this time the participants get it on XXX style. A sensual Asian girl demonstrates fellatio and Liz lectures us on the pros and cons of swallowing sperm (!).
Film is fully half over when the opening credits roll, probably a milestone in movie history. Rene Bond, in her pre-boob enhancement phase, has a silent role demonstrating the erotic wonders of talcum powder, about as pointless as the inevitable whipped cream scene of so many mindless early porn features.
At an adult cinema playing Matt Cimber's "He & She" and "Sensually Liberated Female" double feature, we witness a (staged) police bust, arresting the theater staff on obscenity charges.
Mycle Brandy and Ric Lutze have a hot sex scene demonstrating the use of baby oil, just the thing for an expert hand job. Next vignette is probably the silliest: a guy goes flaccid during sex with a beautiful partner due to his smoking, as Liz lectures on the disastrous side effects (not cancer or heart disease, but limp-dick-itis!) of that bad habit.
Brigitte Maier is wasted in an early career appearance humping on a water bed in the next sequence hailing the sexual stimulation of those once-popular mattresses. Maier's resemblance to Heather Graham here shows how clever was latter's casting in BOOGIE NIGHTS.
Ron Darby has sex with an underage-looking girl, but since all these sequences are shot MOS he doesn't have a chance to exhibit his comic patter. Film ends clunkily with the legend "The day they outlaw sex - only outlaws will have sex", definitely nonsense to live by if you are a lowbrow pornographer like "Don't call me Benny" Tobalina.
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