Fabled French gay porn "auteur" Jean-Daniel Cadinot had just graduated to hour-long projects after a string of much sought after 30 minute featurettes when he made SACRE COLLEGE! which was to remain one of the director's all time bestselling titles until his untimely death 25 years later. This might seem odd in retrospect, considering the sheer innocence on display when compared even to Cadinot's contemporary capers like STOP and HOMMES DE CHANTIER, which already toyed with the out-sized dildo's and fist insertions that were to become his trademarks, leaving little room for doubt that it was precisely this aspect (ever in short supply within this genre, at least when credibly rendered) that drove queer consumers out of the closet, so to speak !
Cadinot certainly did possess a corny side he indulged intermittently, yearning Proust-like for a lost and idealized youth, as evidenced by his very first foray into film-making TENDRES ADOLESCENTS and CHARMANTS COUSINS, CLASSE DE NEIGE and LES GAMINS DE Paris since. These hazy paeans to earlier and simpler times, invariably taking place in an era that encompassed the director's own childhood, provided a welcome counterweight to his more unflinching penetration epics. Perhaps as a sad sign of the times, these naive little numbers were to become increasingly rare as his creative career progressed, both adult entertainment acquiring audiences and their prime porn purveyor having seemingly grown jaded and cynical.
Whatever the reasons, and I can think of several stemming from personal experience though I'm continuously fighting the urge to become bitter as a result, SACRE COLLEGE! (the adjective pointedly translates as both "sacred" and "damn") provides as much of a breath of fresh air when viewed nowadays as it must have back in 1983. Set in a private boys' school during Easter break of 1952, the movie spins its unrushed narrative of six pupils punished to spend the holidays under the watchful eye of the priest-headmaster (Gérard Nemour, who played the reform school warden in LES MINETS SAUVAGES). Whiling away the hours, the boys get up to all kinds of mischief befitting their tender age, stealing kisses from one another during nature walks or making a secret rendezvous to satisfy their carnal curiosity in the school conservatory, punctuated by the soothing sopranos of a (Catholic ?) boys' choir on the soundtrack.
The more adventurous make a play for college personnel. Sulky floppy-fringed Lesieur (Samson Carry) seduces hunky gardener Borys Brunof in an achingly erotic extended sequence and sickly Morin-Dubourg (Frédéric Christopher, easily the most experienced cast member, appearing in both CHALEURS and SOUS LE SIGNE DE L'ETALON) receives some tender loving care from school nurse Terry Lange in the infirmary. Peckish Rioux (Guy Bourgeois) gets caught stealing biscuits between meals and has to service cocky cook Laurent Girard in another scorching highlight. Arnaud Monastier, a rare Caucasian presence in Cadinot's otherwise almost all Arab HAREM, plays the dorky bespectacled Maréchal and scrumptious one shot Mike Lee is studly black student Férinel.
Throughout, the eroticism arises naturally from each situation and is played out without the tiresome formulaic need to cover all bases. One encounter might consist of nothing but a few furtive caresses or a little oral exploration, always magnificently shot by the director, who already possessed an impressive track record as a still photographer long before he ever recorded moving imagery. Best example by far of Cadinot's relaxed approach is a lengthy, sun-kissed sequence of the boys swimming and making out in the school pond, gradually building intensity as their petting grows persistent, spied upon by their clearly aroused headmaster. Equally refreshing is the fact that this figure of religious authority never oversteps his boundaries, in contrary to the similarly themed SCOUTS, which would only serve to develop an unpleasant aftertaste.
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