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The Teacher 1 (2010)
Gets the series started with a bang
Immersing myself in Sweet Sinner features lately, I enjoyed this first edition of THE TEACHER series as an example of Nica Noelle's approach before the more regimented structure of recent SS videos. It's a bit closer to traditional porn, signaled by casting old-timer Tom Byron in a lead role.
Per IMDb the once emblematic youth star of 25 years earlier had already more than 1600 XXX assignments completed by the time of THE TEACHER and he looks basically the same here as before, minus piercings, long hair and with the addition of a pot belly.
He's a college math professor married to an English prof Darla Crane, and Nica's story has them both seduced by sexy students who they are trying to encourage to work harder in their studies. It doesn't take much persuasion to start humping on the desk (same classroom is used for both profs). Amusing touch is that during Byron's sex education with lovely newcomer Alysson Westley on the soundtrack we hear the bubbling sound of chem lab beakers, as the initial establishing shot has this classroom doubling as a chem lab (doesn't make sense but does add atmosphere).
Darla's humping is more straightforward, as an overage student Mr. Pete gets her going, and going, and going, Darla being Sweet Sinner's go-to gal in delivering its trademark promise of "real orgasms" in every video.
Both profs receive blackmail letters threatening their jobs with disclosure of their affairs with students. Director Noelle doles out plot developments so sparingly (the emphasis is on the sex, of course) that the video becomes fun in its simplicity and clarity. It's somewhat refreshing in our era where audiences, especially of TV series, have been trained to expect three or more overlapping stories, endless time shifts and constant red herrings en route to resolution (or suspension) of a mystery.
Cast is very effective at delivering arousing sex though Byron in particular seems ill-suited for Nica's dictum of naturalness, as he falls into his learned long ago habits of porn-speak and fake passion. Crane on the other hand is always spontaneous (seeming) and genuinely enjoys having sex, in an infectious manner. The new kid on the block Ms. Westley is very natural, not much of an actress and apparently disappeared from the Adult Industry almost as soon as she arrived -not a one-shot but almost.
OK Paul Thomas effort for French label
Word is that P.T. is retiring from the Adult Industry, and L'AVOCATE is a decent enough feature among his swan song releases. His excellent eye for composition (d.p. is Ralph Parfait) and directing of dramatic scenes is evident.
Mainly U.S. cast (though Dorcel regular Liza Del Sierra is prominent on screen) is headed by India Summer in the title role, a lawyer working in a firm with colleague Manuel Ferrara, slicked up a bit for this casting against his usually rugged type.
Liza is a major client of India's, bringing a case of sexual harassment (hard to visualize in the case of such an uninhibited XXX star) against a former boss. Xander Corvus is another soul in the dock, accused (rightly) of setting up dirty photo shoots on location but failing to get signed releases before the cops pinched him for essentially guerrilla activity (in movie shoot parlance).
We're rooting for India to get her apparently guilty clients off, but P.T. ensures that the feature is really about the performers getting off, sexually that is, for our listening and dancing pleasure.
Highiights include a fantasy sequence of Xander humping a beautiful (with fab nipples) girl behind bars, played according to the credits by Katie St. Ives, plus Lily Labeau as a former colleague of Liza's (her testimony is crucial) appearing in a hot threesome in a restaurant kitchen with Mark Wood and Liza.
India is sympathetic as always and her JoBeth Williams-like visage again convinces me that somebody missed (and is still missing) the boat by not casting her in mainstream movies or TV -she's better in every department than so much of the current "respectable" talent (I'm not saying she should have played the lead in GONE GIRL but there are plenty of movies where she could excel).
Major defect here is the Dorcel safe-sex crusade which peppers L'AVOCAT with condoms - one scene in which Ferrara has one magically at the ready in his hand to put on before a torrid sex scene is made even more ridiculous when a continuity error has him delivering the money shot facilitated by an amazing disappearing rubber.
The Soldier (2010)
Engrossing romantic porn takes a slightly different route
Sweet Sinner is a porn label famous for its series of romantic porn titles like THE STEPMOTHER and EXCHANGE STUDENT, some running up into double digits in sequels. The stand-alone entry THE SOLDIER benefits from being a one-shot story, though it does feature as surprise open-ending (never followed up on, though misleadingly IMDb has listed its title as "The Soldier 1' in anticipation).
I will be careful not to spoil the twists, and don't read (I didn't|) the DVD box liner notes that do give away the surprise. Samantha Ryan, more familiar from lesbian screen assignments but passionate here in her boy/girl scenes, stars as the wife of a soldier killed in Afghanistan. Picture opens with brief location (California, obviously) war footage of her hubby Alan Stafford and his best buddy Joey Brass at the time of the incident where Stafford is blown up, leaving just his dog tags and pieces of clothing.
Back home in America, Brass humps his lovely wife (Sweet Sinner's go-to star Darla Crane in a supporting role for a change), but then goes to comfort Ryan, whose tears and hug turn to torrid sex with this more than friend of the family.
Stafford appears in a sequence back in Afghanistan bedding a friendly local girl Persia Pele (a striking beauty born in Teheran who reminded me a bit of Persis Khambatta -of STAR TREK movie fame, but who never made a name for herself fin porn.
The film's requisite four sex scenes are all arousing, and I particularly enjoyed the quickie surprise ending. Stafford, especially in profile, is a dead ringer for mainstream star Guy Pearce, which adds to the enjoyment. Both he and Brass have a host of tattoos which fit the military roles they are playing.
The apotheosis of soft-core chic
Mac Ahlberg's version of the classic story NANA is a truly beautiful to look at but empty film. Though forgotten -no reviews but my late one in IMDb, it is important historically as the high water mark in production values for soft-core sex projects right before XXX features revolutionized the industry.
Film's U.S. release in 1971 was spotty so I (as a Clevelander) had to wait over 40 years to see the movie, after jotting it down on my Want List way back then. It answered a question for me: why has Mac Ahlberg, director of I, A WOMAN, never achieved the respect accorded (especially latterly as porn is being re-evaluated by film buffs worldwide) to his peers Joe Sarno (INGA) and Radley Metzger (THERSE AND ISABELLE and so many others).
The answer in NANA is that despite the beauty of Ahlberg's visuals and the lushness of the studio sets in Copenhagen where it was shot, the characters remain empty, with actors generally staring and posing for the camera, not unlike Hitfchcock's famous dictum that "actors are cattle".
This film was very likely inspired by the success of Metzger's similarly genre-oriented hit CAMILLE 2000, which it even outdoes in lushness. My favorite director of photography back in the early '70s, Andreas Winidng (RIDER ON THE RAIN, Tati's PLAYTIME, Costa-Gavras' SPECIAL SECTION) does a stunning job in making the beautiful Anna Gael (Metzger's discovery as ISABELLE) as NANA look even better, and unusual in porn the film stages frequent Vegas- style musical production numbers befitting her role as a night club and movie sex star.
But the age-old premise of all men attracted to her and mere playthings for the self-centered sort-of-courtesan plays out more like tableaux than dramatic scenes. The editing is technically OK in the Klubb Super 8 DVD I watched (which has pristine visuals), but the scenes and sequences don't flow -there is no real dramatic arc to the characters. We have a story presented as a fait accompli, meant by Ahlberg to arouse the viewer's prurient interests but otherwise just sitting there like a museum piece to be admired, in a precursor to today's standard "look at that great shot!" cinema of Scorsese, Fincher and so many other "hot" directors.
Cool describes Gael's performance, a porcelain doll of perfection. One reason I was so anxious in 1971 to see the movie was the casting of Gillian Hills opposite her, a British personality whose film career I have followed. I thought she was terrific in Georges Franju's much-derided LA FAUTE DE L"ABBE MOURET, perhaps her best screen role while having bit parts in such classics as BLOW-UP and A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. She is in the history books singing the hit single "Zou bisou bisou" in 1962, immortalized in a cover on "Mad Men" almost 50 years later.
But Hills is wasted here, sharing a lesbian sex scene (of course) with Gael but more of a hanger-on than primary character in Nana's jet set milieu. Theme of the movie is the emptiness of these rich and famous celebrities, still just as true today as in Hollywood myth, though today's celebs from Bono to George Clooney to Brangelina have added saving the world to their list of accomplishments.
Csting of the men in Nana's life is very poor - none of them are impressive physically or acting wise and none have any name recognition value for film audiences. If the Swedish and French producers had gone one step further and augmented NANA's obviously sizable below-the- line budget with star names, say a Hardy Kruger, Alain Delon (impossible) or given Winding's just-previous assignment Charles Bronson, then the picture might have gone somewhere other than the cinema trash heap.
In a pivotal role as Nana' s youngest lover Georges, a nonentity Gerard Berner was cast who looks something like Bruce Robinson, later an interesting director but whose acting career peaked opposite Isabelle Adjani in Truffaut's ADELE H. Where are the romantic leads like Sami Freys or character actors like home-grown Per Oscarsson for this picture? Instead we have lame performances by Lars Lunoe and Keve Hjelm as her hissable sugar daddies and even worse the film's not-too-talented choreographer (the production numbers are heavy on skin but stink) Rikki Septimus as her go-to stud Rikki.
Soundtrack was recorded in English but except for recognizable voices, like that of Hills, has the sort of white noise otherworldly quality of Continental films of the period aimed at the international market, such as Visconti's English-track versions. The Klubb DVD has the unusual feature of including about three seconds of hardcore penetration footage during one of Gael's love scenes involving an erect cock entering Nana that is obviously the work of doubles but is very well matched to try and fool the viewer.
Since the film was shot in a studio in Copenhagen, a city where hardcore porn was being made in 1970, ahead of the rest of the world, this footage may well have been part of the original final cut rather than added later as was the case with so many "hot versions" of '70s films starring the likes of Ornella Muti, Janet Agren or Sirpa Lane.
So I would advocate a video release using quality elements of NANA for the U.S., as it is of unusual value in appreciating the sexploitation porn films in the crucial period of the dawn of the 1970s, when all hell broke loose.
Mother Exchange 2 (2014)
Moving performance by Magdalene St. Michaels
Magdalene St. Michaels is no stranger to this genre, starring in many lesbian as well as boy/girl versions of the May/December XXX romance. Here she gets a meaty role (no pun intended) and runs with it.
Magdalene and Ariella Ferrera are both moms whose boys have grown up and they haven't seen their opposite number's kid for many years. As the series title telegraphs, there will be some inter-generational humping going on.
Creep hubby Steven St. Croix gets things rolling by having a cutie on the side, hitting the sack with lovely import Valentina Nappi, sporting a thick Italian accent and European style bush.
Ferrera is pitiful dining alone when her husband (St. Croix) doesn't show up, and passes out on the couch, drunk on wine. Magdalene's son Tyler Nixon visits to return a DVD he borrowed from Ariella's son Giovanni Francesco, and has a brief (set-up) conversation with Ariella.
Meanwhile Giovanni is humping his g.f. Christie Stevens, a hot blonde with impressive breasts, dark nipples and distinctive tattoos.
There are considerable plot machinations at this point, but the porn returns when Giovanni visits Magdalene and they have sex - St. Michaels is a dead ringer for our local ABC weather lady Amy Freeze in this scene!
Ariella is doing housework when Tyler visits and sex comes naturally to them, with a quality gradual segue from soft-core action to XXX. Feature's coda is somewhat cryptic but moving nonetheless, as son Tyler returns home and gives mom Magdalene a kiss, while a photo dear to her of her & Tyler lies on the floor, repeating the mournful image which opened the film.
This series may emerge as Sweet Sinner's finest - so far all three editions are quality Adult Entertainment.
Teenage Pajama Party (1977)
Well-done teen-tease porn from a master
Jim Clark/Jim Buckley is the unacknowledged master of the teenage porn genre, with several hit films starring vaguely underage-looking girls made during the Golden Age. Perfectly legal then, though this material would be a no-no to shoot today.
That's because the characters are always underage, even though the actresses certainly are not. This rather lightweight entry is less risqué than usual for Jim, because the star performers are generally well-known and perhaps a bit long-in-the-tooth for their roles.
When the parents leave, our five heroines carry on out of control, immediately stripping down to their undies to trade stories around the fireplace (think campfire if this were an outdoor picture).
An obscene phone call sets the tone of grotesque humor, as we're treated to closeups of the pervert on the other end of the line jerking off.
The vignettes inspired by the kids' imagination begin with a campy scene of sex in an Arab tent starring Wade Nichols as The Shiek. Buxom Terri Hall is dancing around on an abstract set, making love to a fireman and having mixed combo troilism with the addition of Black lead Barbi Jay. Next Michael Gaunt appears for a quality oral sex scene, followed by Barbi again in a lesbian sex bout.
C.J. Laing phones a pimp named Daddy Joe, cuing a fantasy of her having sex with one of his whores and also performing her patented deep throat technique on DJ. Fun wrinkle is that the pimp looks a lot like current new-star Oscar Isaac.
C.J. then has mixed combo action with a big-dicked Black guy, getting kinky by shoving a dildo up his posterior. The next fantasy of a muscular guy deflowering a little girl is obviously over the line and features anal sex.
The parents cone home none too soon, finding the girls in the living room all peacefully asleep - no one's the wiser.
Father Figure (2012)
Quality May/December porn
FATHER FIGURE spawned a series of Sweet Sinner videos, mixing fake incest with the pairing of older guys and young but legal girls. Sex scenes run too long (adds up to 2 and a half hours) but it's otherwise effective.
Unlike Nica's and Sweet Sinner's other series this one presents four separate vignettes with four separate casts. Tone is set by Evan Stone having his girl friend's step-daughter move into his mansion, eliciting her "I've always wanted a dad" reaction from very young-looking and oriental-looking London Keyes. Director Nica Noelle appears in a cameo as the step- mom.
More straightforward mixed combo action has Mr. Marcus cast against type as a home tutor who develops feelings (not necessarily sexual but simply sympathetic) for his pupil Katie St. Ives. With a classical music score this is a change of pace segment.
Closer to the genre is casting Ben English (with a "sordid past") ogling lovely Melanie Rios sunbathing, a hint of what's to come. Melanie, who's had an unusually diverse set of roles in various porn sub-genres, is very appealing and director Nica later showcased her talents in THE BABYSITTER 4.
Best vignette features veteran Nick Manning paired with the delicious April O'Neil, whose large (for her size) feet are among the segment's dominant contrasts. This one has an interesting and functional plot line where Nick invites his daughter's friend April to spend the night to escape problems she's experiencing at home. She tiptoes into his room at night and gets into bed with him after waking from a bad dream. Though the porn genre means there's no suspense, the transition here from a kindly tone to hot & heavy sex is well-executed, and Nica scores a bullseye with the casting.
Unimpressive debut feature
Tony Marsiglia, who also uses the surname Kane on clapper-board in PHOENIX, is an enigmatic video/filmmaker. I've seen his entire output of seven features and can't decide if he's merely a soft-core porn artiste cranking out lesbian footage, or interested in making an artistic statement as in PHOENIX and SUZY HEARTLESS, which bookend his career.
The commentary track on the DVD emphasizes Tony's legit theater background, so perhaps that is his proper métier.
This shot-in-a-week 35mm debut feature film PHOENIX is something of a mess. Are we to take this assemblage of gimmicky shock effects, mix of deadpan, low-affect performances with theatrical overacting, and the same pretentious approach offered up a decade later in SUZY, seriously? Or is it all tongue-in-cheek?
Aisha Prigann is the leading lady, who Tony literally fell in love with (and out again when she switched allegiance to his love/hate alter ego cinematographer), but her performance is stilted. She isn't the raging Helen-of-Troy-level beauty Tony makes her out to be, and the film literally sinks with her non-acting.
Parallel stories have her pacting (at film's start) with sis Sasha DeMarino to never part, but death intervenes; while story #2 concerns morgue attendant Mark Shultz (coming closest to a sustained performance here) and his creepy antics with a little fetish doll, phallic in shape but inspiring him to more conventional, hetero masturbation. One shock effect scene, after his garish parents coddle him with idiotically satirical life in a crib upbringing, has blind date Morgana Sofia Rasch/Rae baring her ample breasts, but she's greeted with the fetish in Mark's underpants where his cock should be.
In the big breasts department I was most impressed with the humongous knockers revealed by bit player Hope White, in a full-frontal-nudity scene wherein our heroine is faced with three choices in life, in a strange ritual. The actress is identified as Hope Morell in an interview with Aisha, but clearly her true identity is a mystery. What isn't a mystery is that Marsiglia/Kane likes to use breasty nudes in his films as "art", though we genre fans know it is sexploitation at its finest. .
Another shock scene is pretty much bungled, as Aisha starts dribbling, suddenly gushes what presumably simulates a Golden Shower onto the fetish idol between her legs and gives birth to some full-size adult head, presumably Mark's. This garish scene is strictly shock value.
The two stories come together when Mark meets Aisha, and the reincarnation or ghost or image of the dead sister Sasha replaces his fetish idol. Centerpiece scene is a flashback, well- played by Susan Hinshaw and Kevin Waldron as the sisters' mom & step-dad, in which Marsiglia delves into his incest theme forcefully. Had the rest of the film been as theatrically potent as this single vignette, he might have had something.
The Witches of Sappho Salon (2003)
Interesting premise, underachieved
I've seen all of director Tony Marsiglia's films/videos as listed in IMDb, and WITCHES is the least known, as indicated by its zero response on the website. Supernatural/erotic tale of modern day witches using a beauty salon as a front probably needed some star names (even B-stars like Misty Mundae who Marsiglia has often cast) to get one's attention -perhaps Queen Latifah?
Well-photographed (on video) the feature's strong suit is atmosphere, in particular extended use of mirrors which always present suggestive layers of meaning, and are quite appropriate to the story. After a ritual killing/blood sacrifice (with lots of fake blood and full-frontal nudity), story picks up 30 years later at the title salon, where lesbian women work and are really witches.
They're searching for just the right sacrificial victim with a specified birth date, to give them another 30 years lease on life Janet (played by Elizabeth Grace) is their target and film's twist is fairly easy to predict early on (I have to suppress the plot issues here that would give it away and spoil the fun).
Other key role is Leon (played by J.C. Clifford), Janet's boy friend, who is erroneously credited on screen with the character name Jerry. Ellina Bellbrook is the sexy witch Bridget with beauty marks while the head witch is Tanith (Brigitte Eves), Cast has next to no other credits listed in IMDb, though star Grace later crewed on a Misty Mundae shoot for Marsiglia.
Much of the running time is devoted to sensual, slow-paced lesbian sex scenes, benefiting from the above-mentioned use of mirrors, and a genre which Marsiglia has much experience directing. Unfortunateloy, femme cast is not particularly attractive, a major drawback. Whoever said casting is 90% of filmmaking success was on to something.
Film's funniest moment comes when Leon wakes up from a castration nightmare (the lesbians going at him with shears), only to look down at his cock and feeling mighty relieved. Whether scripted or improvised, Leon speaks all his thoughts for the viewer, a device I didn't like.
College Corruption (1970)
Lynn Harris highlights standard soft porn
Casting Lynn Harris was the only wise decision from the makers of COLLEGE CORRUPTION, a soft-core movie made by Cosmos Films to help fill the schedule of a Times Square theater back in the day before hardcore took over.
She's a co-ed (Debbie) that we get to watch perform simulated sex in a cheapo, one-set wonder, with no exteriors or visual connection to academia. As Debbie she's a theater arts major (alas, Lynn was never really permitted to show her thespian skills in dozens of low- grade motion picture appearances) while her pal Fran is self-described as a "husband major".
Bill visits and humps Fran -he is a Harry Reems type with mustache, though I believe this predates the real Reems sporting his trademark facial hair. The simulated sex carefully avoids showing hardcore penetration, but we do see his cock which Fran grabs and the dry hump has only implied fellatio, cunnilingus, etc. All the while their inane sex talk is drowned out by loud rock music playing, including The Arrows' familiar theme music for the classic biker drive-in movie THE SAVAGE SEVEN (a favorite of mine back then).
Wayne the mustache man's pal Bill has three girls in tow::Sally, Anne and Betty, and Bill enlists his help in servicing them in Scene Two. Wayne humps Betty, who has big natural breasts and a hairy bush, to the accompaniment of surf guitar music. An orgy erupts and the dialog track is replaced with dubbed sounds of sex. This scene spotlighting blonde Anne has a girl grabbing Wayne's boner, stronger stuff than expected in terms of X content.
A jump-cut finds Debbie at her typewriter visited by the femme dean who agrees to help her with her math. Though resisting at first, Harris succumbs to the dean's lesbian advances when the mature woman threatens her grades at school. Lynn's trademark puffy nipples get a workout here, a treat for her fans and the highlight of the otherwise ephemeral picture.
For this appearance Lynn sports a heavy bush, making the split-beaver closeups of the genre a bit undecipherable; the chubby dean played by Cosmos regular Ruth Knox is not attractive at all.
Bill calls Debbie by the name Betty (one of the other girls) by mistake when he returns, finding her still in tears after the lesbian encounter. "What you need is a good man" he says and humps her on the rebound. Their dirty feet are showing, a sure signpost for me that the porn film is bottom of the barrel.
When she rides Bill his limp dick can clearly be seen below her body not penetrating, and Lynn's climactic blow-job features the "hand blocking view" technique - a bygone art learned in the late soft-core era circa 1969/70 and now as antiquated as the buggy whip (latter relegated only to BDSM movies I guess).