Along with its companion film THE FABULOUS BASTARD FROM CHICAGO, DIAMOND STUD is a mysterious attempt to elevate softcore porn to mainstream filmmaking level, by injecting a (relative to usual porn) seemingly ample budget, solid production values and a ton of story material that overwhelms the porn content.
I have no idea whether this was simply a case of money laundering (La Cosa Nostra backing perhaps), or a lame-brained grab at the crossover brass ring. The results are unsatisfying and pretentious.
I've always loved the solid Warner Bros. vehicle for Edward Arnold, DIAMOND JIM, colorfully (in black & white of course) limning the bio of larger-than-life Diamond Jim Brady. Why did filmmaker Greg Corarito and his various producers make a porn imitation? It isn't satirical or a spoof, merely a ripoff.
There is very little sex here, with the longest sex scene having the camera zooming or panning away from the action, a no-no. Other than some extras (who are thrown away) the main femmes in the cast are unattractive. This is porn-making of the shoot-yourself-in-the-foot variety.
The story of Diamond Jim's ambition and fatal eating habits, and his endless run-ins with his ne'er-do-well brother Pat, is never gripping. Whenever it gets interesting one longs for a "real" film, not a porn treatment, as the acting is subpar. Robert Hall's earnest non-sex performance in the title role is underwhelming and fails to engender the desired sympathy. Following in the footsteps of Edward Arnold, his approach is merely flat.
Attention was paid to convincing costuming, quality sets and locations, atmospheric use of a real steam engine train for footage of Diamond Jim's quest to demonstrate the viability of his locomotive -it adds up to an impressively mounted production. But what mainstream movie house would book this porn? Merely looking better than a Universal or Paramount B-feature misses the point; this is (soft) X level filmmaking, even if it's unsatisfying in the sex department.
Before I give Corarito & pals too many left-handed compliments, it is worth noting that credibility is thrown out the window early on by casting a porn actress as Diamond Jim's mom -she looks about 25 years old in the flashbacks of the brothers growing up, and looks the same in footage set 30 years later. Strictly amateur night direction.
Typically, the notes on the Something Weird video box are misleading, quoting Corarito from some interview as stating that two girls from Charlie Manson's cult were pressed into service for a lengthy cat fight in a bar scene. The two actresses we see are definitely soft porn talent, one of them even looks like Cara Peters, though they, like most of the other supporting players, are uncredited. One huge-breasted waitress serving Diamond Jim in a restaurant scene is typically underutilized. It adds up to a prime example of filmmakers who literally don't know what they're doing: the porn equivalent of that old saw of the comedian who wants to play Hamlet.
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