Tag Archives: Erotic

#152 – Château, Le (Castle, The)

(1975, Bel, 91 min) Dir Helmut Durmou. Cast Hal Normand, Lisa Beit, Howard Messinger.

Dormou’s debut Elisa Lees had many fans, among them the middle-aged Belgian millionaire Francois Fleider who adopted the Swiss director as a kindred spirit and supported him with not just the money to make his films but also, for the making of Le Château, the use of his impressive residence in the South of France to film in. Fleider didn’t even ask to be featured in the films he funded, the usual vain request made as part of such a deal – all that he requested was to be present at the filming which Dormou allowed. The first result of this partnership, Le Château is set in an unnamed lush countryside where, once a year, the occupiers of the nearby hilltop castle audition for playthings among the local population and, more than that, said locals line up to be judged. The structure of the film allows for agonisingly long foreplay where what awaits those deemed worthy is hinted at but not fully revealed until the end. Not that this is a tip to those unwilling to wait – steady your fingers on the remote control, press ye not the fast forward button for the build up is the point and half the pleasure for Dormou now betrays a mastery of the suspense of film, of suggestion and denial that makes the release of the films denouement all the sweeter.

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#151 – Elisa Lees

(1972, Fr/Sp/WGer, 82 min) Dir Helmut Durmou. Cast Lisa Beit, Howard Messinger, Peter Feebler.

Serious Seventies kink from Swiss director Helmut Durmou, the man who quietly amassed a fine oeuvre of very personal and highly specialised films over his thirty year career and who sadly died in the first week of this year at the age of eighty-one. Elisa Lees was his first film, made at the age of forty-two with privately sourced funds and follows the awakening of its naïve title character as she is inducted into a new world. So far, so generic as far as these things go but about halfway through the film the dominated becomes the dominatrix and she returns to discipline the men who once held mastery over her. This isn’t done in a mean, revengey kind of way though – Durmou’s films frequently kept their eye on the ball with regards consent and roleplay and the men are all very grateful once she’s done with them with the suggestion floating about that we’re merely bearing witness to a kind of ‘edited reality’ and that there is a larger story at play that we are only glimpsing. It’s a little rough around the edges but Durmou’s classical staging and clear, sharp photography are already on display – he clearly knew what he wanted from the outset.

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#131 – Howard Schlong

(1973, US, 79 min) Dir Art Blitzen. Cast Harry Pork, Jemma Mitz, Orla Capp.

So, who’s to blame for the truly dire cinematic career of ‘Artless’ Art Blitzen? How about Ernest Lehman? How, you might ask, is the distinguished screen author (or co-author) of such film classics as Sabrina, North by Northwest and The Sound of Music responsible for the tin-eyed cultural crimes of as shameless and inept a smut merchant as Blitzen? Well, I’ll tell you. In 1972, for reasons best know to Lehman, he made his one and only directorial effort with an adaptation of Philip Roth’s classic novel of sex and Judaism Portnoy’s Complaint which was about as well received with the critics as a firebomb in a Kurosawa retrospective. Not only did the critics turn their nose up at the film but it so enraged one viewer in the shape of Art Blitzen (then known as a publisher of Z grade pornography) that he scraped together about a buck and a half and shot his own version which equalled more sex, less Judaism. The fact that it’s lead character (as personified by the sweaty Harry Pork) has been renamed Howard Schlong should clue you in to how much of Roth’s wit survived the process. It’s dire from top to bottom – it looks like it was shot through the bottom of a milk bottle, Jemma Mitz (as ‘The Chimp’) looks as though she’s dropped acid before each take and the boom mike is visible in so many scenes it should, by rights, have been given a co-lead credit. As Roth himself said, “I would have sued but it might have meant watching it.”

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#115 – Falling Blossom

(1981, Fr, 101 min) Dir Catherine Dominique. Cast Allegra Biscotti, Serge de Foy, Jean Fillet.

The peak of the latter half of Dominique’s career and the last film she would make until 1990’s Love is the Death, Falling Blossom would also, if you removed all of the sex (which, sensitively handled and beautifully shot though it might be, is still pretty filthy), be a perfectly heartbreaking coming of age story. Allegra Biscotti, here in her first film role, confirms Dominique’s unerring eye for a beautiful lead actress as the titular Blossom, growing up in her family’s country house in the French countryside of the 1930’s. She becomes besotted with a local artist called Phillipe (de Foy, of Claude Claude fame) and through a campaign of borderline stalking manages to snare him, the two of them falling into passionate love over the course of this one hot, sweaty summer. Alas once summer is done Blossom must return to the city and Phillipe, staying behind, gives in to the ghosts of the old war he fought not so long ago while simultaneously fighting the premonitions of a new one looming on the horizon. Everything came together for Dominique here, perhaps now that the greater excesses of her work have been purged. Not that she would agree: “This is me,” she has said, “And so is that. There is no difference.”

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#114 – Baroness Lesbos

(1978, Fr/Sp, 99 min) Dir Catherine Dominique. Cast Ewa Rohm, Adrianna Belle, Hans, Peter Allison.

Originally titled The Mother of All Sin this is the one film of Dominique’s she seems incapable of standing behind, despite what even she admits are some moments of beauty studded throughout. “It was taken away from me by the bastard producers,” she told me at a 2010 retrospective in Berlin, “They cut it and take out what they don’t like. They film more things and put them in too. Even they take it’s name. I find it hard to look at still, you know?” As you might expect what was taken out was atmosphere and what was added was sex, but that’s not what upset Dominique: “The actors – Adrianna and Hans and Peter – they all work with me before so they refuse to not work with me. All they have then is Ewa, who I never wanted anyway.” That’s not all they had – they also had another woman in a blonde wig pretending to be Adrianna Belle but who looks so unlike her it completely sinks the back half of the film which is a shame as the first half is as strong as anything she has made with fantastic use made of the sunsets along the Spanish coast. Dominique would be back on solid ground three years later with the crown jewel of the sexploitation half of her career – the beautiful and romantic Falling Blossom.

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