THE BLUE HOUR (which also sports the pretentious French translation title "L'heure bleue") is an apparently unreleased (or at best marginally booked) soft porn opus rescued from the junk heap of film history in a well-preserved print for video collectors. I love seeing obscure or nearly lost films, but this one is of only minor interest.
It suffers from many deadly flaws, notably a shredded editing style reminiscent of pretentious early '70s efforts like Henry Jaglom's directorial debut A SAFE PLACE. So many montages and pointless jump-cuts are employed that it seems as if we are watching an attempt at salvaging an unfinished film.
Indeed, THE BLUE HOUR boasts some curious credits: a screenwriter (Hittleman) laying claim to "original production" and a presenter and co-director (Nicholas) getting "additional sequences". It's hard to tell what was added later, though an irrelevant and lengthy nightclub belly dancing sequence starring one of my favorite pin-ups of the period (Diane Webber of MERMAIDS OF TIBURON fame) seems tacked on.
As porn, admittedly of the softcore persuasion, the film fails utterly and is so tame in its nude scenes that it was probably filmed 2 or 3 years earlier than its 1971 copyright suggests. Untalented but buxom leading lady Anne Chapman starred in Russ Meyer's excellent FINDERS KEEPERS, LOVERS WEEPERS released in 1968, which is probably the time frame of this project's principal photography.
Convoluted storyline (not helped at all by the pointless flashbacks structure) has Chapman unconvincingly portraying Tania, a beautiful Greek girl who is frequently abused by both would-be rapists (including her uncle back on a Greek island) and what appears to be cult star Mary Beth Hughes as a stereotypical Hollywood exploiter of young girls. Corny plot used in hundreds of sexploitation exercises has her falling into bad company in L.A., forced to be groped by sleazeballs in a strictly '60s job of photo model (guys using Brownie cameras as an excuse to get private time with a disrobing girl).
Film opens with over 6 minutes of credits, which are repeated exactly for 2 minutes of more padding at film's end but fail to identify any of the actors with the characters portrayed. Present-day story has Tania romping in the surf with her handsome hubby (softcore regular Ed Blessington), who is an architect with laudable city planning objectives. An interesting scene of him expounding on ecological matters to an enthusiastic investor is the screenplay's highlight -quickly abandoned in favor of melodrama.
When Tania isn't being assaulted (in flashbacks) by evil men she is alternately seducing them - the usual misogynistic gimmick of many a porn script. She imagines that she has killed several of these would-be aggressors and those nightmarish memories keep surfacing much to Blessington's dismay.
Silliest plot line has her falling in love with a handsome young Greek priest who's styled a la Michael Gothard's "hippie exorcist" of Ken Russell's THE DEVILS (only coincidentally, not a ripoff). In this subplot he rejects (or at least tries to reject) Tania's advances rather than the other way around.
Oddest touch has Chapman playing many scenes as if she were a mute - probably a directorial decision to minimize the damage of her poor line readings.
Bottom line is that the film doesn't deliver the goods in the sex department, especially since hardcore porn features were already knocking 'em dead at the box office by the time it was ready for release in 1971. This might have been a barely watchable co-feature for adult drive-ins, but only barely.
Vinegar Syndrome is the new-kid-on-the-block DVD and Blu-Ray purveyor of porn responsible for unearthing THE BLUE HOUR. Its honchos earn my respect for emphasizing quality prints and transfers (even for drek like the worst of Herschell Gordon Lewis's output in a recent 3-fer).
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