History of Sex in Cinema:
|Movie Title/Year and Film/Scene Description|
Porn Chic of the 1970s:
These are a few films in the 1970s that attempted to capture the newly-found mainstream hard-core porn business, particularly after the remarkable success of Deep Throat (1972).
Boys in the Sand (1971)
Writer/director Wakefield Poole's film was a landmark in cinematic history - it was the first - and maybe only - gay hard-core feature film to have had any mainstream success - and it preceded Deep Throat (1972) by almost a year. It was one of the milestone examples of the era's "porno chic" in its heralding of gay male sexuality. [The film's title was a take-off on director William Friedkin's gay-themed film The Boys in the Band (1970).]
Reportedly, it was the first triple-X film of any orientation to bill its director and actors, and to date, the only adult film ever reviewed in The New York Times. Unlike the prevailing stereotypes of gays, this film portrayed the lead male character as well-adjusted, athletic, and toned.
The low-budget film (made for $8,000) was composed of three segments, all set on secluded Fire Island, in the life of a blonde gay man named Donovan (Casey Donovan) at a beachside resort. Sex scenes were filmed at the beach, at the pool, and indoors. It was replete with many instances of gay oral sex, gay intercourse, and use of sex toys.
Behind the Green Door (1972)
The Mitchell Brothers' (Artie and Jim) X-rated film was the first hard-core pornographic movie widely released in the United States (just before Deep Throat (1972)), and very popular with mixed-sex audiences. It was made on a budget of $60,000, and earned over $1 million in theatrical releases, and $25 million from its video release.
It starred young Marilyn Chambers, the "99.44% pure Ivory Snow girl" on the detergent box, as abducted young woman Gloria Saunders. After being kidnapped, she was given a relaxing body massage by a female:
Then, she was taken to a mysterious, underground sex show club called the Green Door, led in by six black-garbed priestesses. Her arms and legs were held spread out, and she was caressed, laid down and readied for sex with oral stimulation.
There in a live sex act on stage for the wealthy masked patrons' entertainment (who were engaged in wild self-gratification) in the audience, she had an inter-racial sex scene (scandalous for the time) with an African Stud (Johnnie Keyes), who pleasured her with cunnilingus before having intercourse.
This was followed by a trapeze swing act with four sexual acrobats who were serviced by Gloria, from behind and in front, and to each side. She took the multiple partners at the same time (with her hands, her mouth, and her vagina). And then there was a lengthy orgy sequence with many participating.
As the film was concluding, it featured a highly-unusual, seven minute special-effects sequence - a very artsy, spectacular, psychedelic, rainbow-colored, slow-motion, optically printed and solarized montage of male sexual climax on Gloria's face (almost in clinical detail) by one of the well-endowed trapeze artists.
Gloria with Stud
Masked Audience Members
The Trapeze Act
The Orgy Sequence
The Psychedelic Climax
Deep Throat (1972)
This cheaply-made, raw, hard-core porn flick (a gross sex comedy, actually) by Gerard Damiano became the most profitable film of its kind of all-time, grossing over $600 million, although it was ruled obscene and banned in New York City. It brought adult movies into the popular culture.
It soon became a 'porno-chic' film and cultural phenomenon (the first cross-over porn film that became a hit). This profoundly-influential and ground-breaking film lured thousands of middle-class audiences into adult theatres for the first time as a date movie. Its tagline was enticing: "HOW FAR DOES A GIRL HAVE TO GO TO UNTANGLE HER TINGLE?" After its initial period of release (at a time of sexual revolution), it became a cultural phenomenon and it was fashionable to talk about the film (and its educationally feminist theme of female sexual gratification) or make references to it (such as Watergate's 'Deep Throat' whistleblower).
The thin, simplistic plot filmed like a stag flick in only six days, was about a young woman Linda Lovelace (as Herself) who couldn't experience an orgasm until her doctor, Dr. Young (Harry Reems) examined her and discovered her strange anatomical defect:
He learned that during the performance of fellatio, she was the most stimulated, because her clitoris was deep down in the bottom of her throat.
Miss Linda Lovelace
The Devil in Miss Jones (1973)
After Deep Throat (1972), writer/director Gerard Damiano's next film was one of the most successful porn films of all-time.
The erotic X-rated masterpiece starred Georgina Spelvin as Justine Jones, a lonely, virginal and repressed spinster in her early 30s, who had committed suicide (her sole sin) by slitting her wrists with a razor-blade in her bathtub.
Unqualified to enter Heaven, she decided to enjoy sexual sins on Earth to justify her damnation. She bargained with the Devil to live her life over on Earth, consumed by Lust. She promised:
She was given the opportunity to 'earn' her place in Hell by becoming the embodiment of Lust when she returned to Earth. An immortal known only as The Teacher (Harry Reems) used his supernatural abilities to erase all of Justine's sexual inhibitions.
The film contained many graphic sexual acts and erotic encounters, including straight sex, lesbian, anal, group sex (threesome), masturbation (in the bathtub with a small water hose), a slithering snake, use of an anal butt-plug, the insertion of grapes into one's vagina, and more.
After becoming sex-addicted, she found herself imprisoned for eternity with an impotent and uninterested man.
Pioneering porn director Radley Metzger's witty, well-acted sexploitation comedy film (similar in part to Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) was adapted from the off-Broadway stage play that ran for less than a month in late 1971. It was filmed in 1972, but not released in the US until 1974.
Released in two versions, the longer hard-core version was 91 minutes, while the soft-core version was only 84 minutes. The film was one of the first feature-length porn films about bisexual swinging, with the tagline: "...Experience the Possibilities."
According to the narrator's voice-over, the action was set in a seaside villa in a fictional European village: "In the village of Leisure, in the land of Play, deep within the erogenous zone." Part of the sex included taking drugs and dressing up in costumes: a sailor outfit, a negligee, a nun's habit, and a cowboy costume.
The sex farce told about a liberated and hedonistic married couple who enjoyed the swinger lifestyle:
The couple convinced other inexperienced newlyweds to join them for an evening of experimentation with bi-sexuality and group sex:
The pairings of the couples also included same-sex action (cross-cutting between upstairs with the females Elvira/Betsy and downstairs with the males Jack/Eddie), with their wager about who would be the first to seduce a same-sex member.
The Autobiography of a Flea (1976)
This pornographic film was a groundbreaking, landmark film from the Mitchell Brothers Film Group - it was noted as being the first major X-rated porn film directed by a female, Sharon McNight.
It was a costume drama loosely adapted from the 19th century erotic novel published in London, and set at the turn of the century - a Fanny Hill-style, Victorian period comedy of love and lust.
The film was uniquely told from the perspective of a flea (the Narrator, Warren Pierce) in the private place (pubic hair) of a beautiful young 14 year-old woman named Belle (Jean Jennings).
She was controlled by her uncle, seduced by the local and lustful Roman Catholic priest Father Ambrose (Paul Thomas), and introduced to a world of sexual depravity.
The Opening of Misty Beethoven (1977)
Radley Metzger's (pseudonymed as Henry Paris) film was a hard-core pornographic version of the George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion story, and has been widely acknowledged as one of the best porn films ever made. With high production values, an elaborate plot, and a big budget, it was filmed in various international locations.
It was also the first widely-released porn film to explicitly display a taboo sexual practice known as pegging (female-to-male strap-on intercourse) during a menage a trois scene.
Constance Money/Susan Jensen starred as the title character Dolores 'Misty' Beethoven. She was a crass prostitute who was discovered in a seedy Paris theatre giving an old man (in a Napolen costume) a handjob, by conceited sexologist author Dr. Seymour Love (Jamie Gillis).
Dr. Love bet his wealthy patron Geraldine Rich (Jacqueline Beudant) that he could help advance her into being the hottest girl in town (the next revered Golden Rod Girl, the top honor of Europe's sex-society), by tutoring her (a la Svengali Professor Henry Higgins) to become sexually-accomplished. He would show her off at the annual ball hosted by vain, Hugh Hefner-like porn magnate-publisher of Golden Rod Magazine, Lawrence Layman (Ras Kean) and his randy wife Barbara (Gloria Leonard).
The action shifted from Paris to Love's penthouse apartment in New York (and then back to Europe to Geraldine's lavish estate filled with butlers and maids), where 'Misty' had been propositioned and challenged to the training in the ways of pleasure. Misty endured a variety of strict but sexy practice regimens, with films, demos, and interactions with the servants, while Dr. Love looked on critically.
Along the way, one of Misty's feats was to seduce an obviously gay art dealer (Casey Donovan) in an opera house bathroom (to the tune of the William Tell Overture). She was recognized as accomplished by seducing an impotent man, pleasuring three male servants simultaneously, and by being vetted at Layman's annual ball. There during threeway sex, she seduced Lawrence (making love to Barbara) with female-on-male strap-on sex from behind.
By film's end, an in-control Misty had reversed the arrangement she had previously experienced with Dr. Love - with whom she had fallen in love. After she returned to him (he had morosely waited for her return), she was now in charge of his sex school. Dr. Love was seated below her, subserviently wearing bondage gear in the film's final image.
Candy Stripers (1978)
Director Bob Chinn's adult comedy used the setting of a hospital and its naughty candy-striping volunteers to tell its porn-related story. Its tagline was: "Guaranteed to Make Your Temperature Rise."
There were many sequels to follow, in 1985, 1986, 1990, and 1999. The film's notorious 'fisting' scenes were excised from all the original prints.
It told about three sex-eager candy stripers in the workplace:
On her last day of work, the very horny Sharon was caught providing sex to one of the doctors, Dr. Bishop (Richard Pacheco) in a janitor's closet.
She ultimately also pleasured her own overbearing and 'prudish' boss Sarge (Sharon Thorpe) at her illegal, late-night going-away sex-orgy party.
Debbie Does Dallas (1978)
One of the most successful and best-known of the 70's era of porn was this film, from director Jim Clark. The best-selling film, reportedly one of the top 5 highest-grossing porn films of all-time, was released as one of the earliest VHS videotapes.
It was also noted for its numerous shower scenes and the climactic scene with 'girl-next-door' Debbie in her cheerleading outfit having sex with her employer. It was notorious for being denounced and sued by the real Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders (Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, Inc. vs. Pussycat Cinema, Ltd., and Michael Zaffarano (the film's financier), settled in late 1979) - which produced great publicity for the film. As its major marketing strategy, the marquee advertised that the film's star was an "Ex Dallas Cowgirl Cheerleader."
The film's plot was about wholesome blonde MHS student Debbie Benton (Bambi Woods, a made-up name) who had won a spot on pro football's Texas Cowgirls cheerleading squad. A number of her cheerleader girlfriends met in the shower and locker room, where Debbie offered ways to acquire jobs and help her raise the funds in only two weeks.
Eventually, they decided the most advantageous method was to call themselves Team Services and charge for sexual activities. Debbie told her friends: "Listen girls, there's money to be had, and fast money. And you don't have to do anything more than what we do with our boyfriends. And they certainly have fun, don't they? And we're all still virgins, aren't we?" Rikki and Annie, after washing a car in sopping wet T-shirts, decided to strip down for Mr. Bradly (David Pierce) for more lucrative earnings. In another subplot, Mrs. Hardwick (Robin Byrd), wife of her husband (Eric Edwards) who owned a candle shop, caught Roberta using a candle as a dildo to pleasure herself, thereafter followed by a seductive threesome with her husband.
Debbie's sexual association with her own lecherous sports store boss, Mr. Greenfeld (credited as Richard Balla, actually Robert Kerman) proved very profitable also. After hours in the store and dressed in her cheerleader's outfit (a costume that mimicked the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders team, the cause of the lawsuit), Debbie laid back and mentioned to him: "My, Mr. Greenfeld, how big you are?" He replied: "I always dreamed of being a quarterback, and making love to the captain of the cheerleaders." He untied her blouse, revealing her breasts that he touched and kissed - for a fee. He progressively helped to raise the needed money, and then he offered to pay all of their expenses if she scored a sexual "touchdown" with him. In the film's conclusion after a bigger payout for the cheerleaders' trip, he chased her around in a football uniform before they had sex together in a variety of poses.
(l to r) Rikki (Sherri Tart)
and Annie (Jenny Cole)
Chuck Vincent's film, similar to an X-rated Sex and the City many years previous to the popular cable-TV show, was one of the last major attempts to create a pornographic cross-over mainstream film for viewing couples in the neighborhood theatre. Originally X-rated, it was re-cut and released in mainstream theatres across the country with an R-rating.
It told a story about three career-oriented women, all haunted by abusive relationships, who shared an apartment in NYC:
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Index to All Decades, Years and Features
- History of Sex in CinemaA year-by-year look at the films, scandals and changing laws.
- History of Erotic FilmsEverything you ever wanted to know from the first sex symbol to the birth of porn.
- Movies That Challenged RatingsA ranked movie list of 10 milestone sexy films that challenged the ratings.
- Sexy Hollywood BombshellsA brief history of Hollywood's sirens including Monroe, Mansfield, and Mamie.
- Top 100 Controversial MoviesMany of these included controversial sex and violence.
- Sexiest Films of All-TimeOver 75 of the hottest films in movie history.