The Imperial Reviews: Volume 30

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So, let's hit rame with a 400-line monster, just to get the juices 
flowing :-)

Brace yourselves. This one's a biggie. 




I also missed the Sixties because of that... :-)

Virtually every time I post a review part I get some piece of email that asks: "Imperator, why on Earth do you review so many old films? And we don't just mean old, we mean 20 YEARS old. Yeah, they're great; but YOU try to locate them in the stores and see the fun we're having trying to follow your suggestions".

Well, that's a valid question and I believe it deserves an answer. First of all, I'm trying to keep on enjoying writing my reviews; the minute they become a chore someone had better come up with some thick wads of cash otherwise I'm quittin' :-). Reviewing current releases is invariably so drab and depressing. Plus you run out of words. How many variations of the word "sucks" are there in the English language? How many different ways can one (gee, I'm beginning to talk like the Queen :-)) use to say that "VCA is performing some major Waste Of Resources(TM) here, the plot is pretentious, the editing atrocious, and the sex for laughs"? I'd rather try to look for *nice* things to say, for something that deserves them.

Furthermore, as people keep pointing out these films are slowly vanishing or are getting censored beyond recognition; you see classics tended not to give a shit about NC, incest, violence and other aspects that can make a porno be also a FILM, but nowadays get the self-censor ax. If somebody doesn't talk about them, people will forget them, ergo they'll stop being ordered and will then REALLY vanish. Blowfish have told me that their most popular mail order videos are classics. My vanity would like me to believe that my reviews and influence in this group have helped the Fishies' customers use their cash on something worthwhile.

So, you could call it a crusade, and tonight here's the latest installment.

(*) Note for newbies in Imperial lore: "Abby" stands for Abigail Clayton, "Annie" is Annette Haven, "Connie" is Constance Money. "A&A" is an institution :-) and stands for Annie&Abby.

Desires Within Young Girls (1976)

Brilliant, charming piece of fluff with excellent production values and an awesome cast: Georgina Spelvin, John Leslie, Lesllie Bovee, Paul Thomas, Clair Dia and both halves of A&A in great form. This is one of those movies ("Naked Afternoon" is another) which make it clear that Abigail Clayton had a boobjob later on in her career. Here we have the natural Abby; the breasts are clearly smaller and bouncier than the versions in "Health Spa" and "Seven into Snowy". Mind you, it has taken some major consultations with Peter and some frame-by-frame action to firmly establish this unfortunate event. Even so, Abby remains Abby, i.e. Imperial Pardon, dudes. Hands off you militant naturalists (that's you, Ron! :-))

The movie's revelation is a very youthful looking (22-year old according to the database) Annette Haven, and by God, porn's most beautiful star ever has never looked that good. For those unfamiliar with the lady (poor things), Annette Haven kept making films until her mid 30s and looked virtually the same as when she was breaking out. This uncanny ability to seemingly defy age -also notable in Veronica Hart's case- is attested by people who have seen her now, i.e. in her *forties*. But I guess youth DOES make a difference, even in Annie's case. Here we also get to see a different sort of Annette, one not very frequently encountered in her career: she plays a "girlish" rather than a "womanly" part. She also seems to have a little more weight than in her latter films, but it all seems to have gone to make her breasts fuller if anything. Gentlemen, there *is* perfection upon this Earth. After this vision, for it can only be described as such, Annette stormed the #1 spot in the Imperial Top 10.

Thankfully, Annie is this movie's centerpiece. She is in 4 scenes (all b-g) and continuously struts around showing off her wondrous beauty. The other principals, all heavyweights of the time, barely appear in one scene each (actually my copy seems to have been chopped and Clair Dia's scene with John Leslie is nowhere to be found). Annie's everywhere. The best scene of all in my opinion is the final one in the shower with Paul Thomas. I've seen a lot of Annette Haven movies (not nearly enough though :-( ) and that must rank among her best.

Not least among the flick's merits is the very cute plot. Georgina Spelvin is widowed after a particularly vivacious bout of sex, and realizes that without financial support from a man her luxurious lifestyle is doomed. She therefore decides to take her two daughters (Dia and Haven) out of boarding school and into the marriage market in the hope that a rich son-in-law will solve the problem. Inevitably, after a tour of dinner parties and eligible bachelors' homes (all involving good sex of course) the two daughters run off with a couple of penniless youths and Georgina finds out she will have to fend off for herself. What I found remarkable, and indeed almost unheard of in porn, in the exposition of this plot is that the two main characters (Spelvin and Haven) reveal to have some *depth* as the movie proceeds. But this is still a comedy, and at times it is delightfully light and refreshing, almost as sparkling as "The Opening of Misty Beethoven", the king of porn comedies IMHO. Annie and Spelvin give solid acting performances, as usual. The whole production is carefully and capably undertaken; the costumes are good, the girls drive around in a Rolls, and the opening theme tune is a wonderful little ditty that you can't seem to stop whistling at work :-). The only problem is the sound. It may have been a problem of my copy but at times this was atrocious; it had a pitch reminding one of a 30s talkie.

Overall, this is a movie that deserves the appelation "classic" and not just because it is 20 years old. A beautiful, lighthearted film, perfect for couples on a more romantic (rather than purely raunchy) mood. Rating: 3.85, but only provisionally, since the quality of my copy was so poor.

Health Spa (1978)

Still awestruck by Annette, I turned to one of Abigail Clayton's showcase features to see if the Top 10 status quo would be restored. Unfortunately, my copy of "Health Spa" (1978) was mercilessly dubbed in German, so my knowledge of the plot is strictly based on the original Playboy review and, naturally, some vital help by a certain Dutchman :-). Kay Parker and Abby are investigative reporters here and they are assigned to look into the doings of a fitness gym employing some "novel" methods ("novel" = the most ancient of human instincts, after eating :-)). Kay seems rather uptight to begin with, Abby is nice and liberal (another reason to adore her, I guess :-)). Abby and the gym owner help Kay loosen up eventually. The good guys win. Yay.

Despite this rather skeletal plot, this movie is as solid as they come, mostly due to Abby's radiant influence. Of course :-). Seriously, I believe this is probably Abigail's best performace, despite it being a post-implant one. She is delightful to watch even when dressed and (this being hardcore) gives some awesome blowjobs to boot. There are several great scenes with her, most notable being the g-g with Kay Parker (Kay is only at the receiving end, as usual), an awesome bj on the gym owner dude, and a wonderful b-g-g in and around a pool that features some long sessions of spooning action and (yes!) RC. The only problem with this latter scene is that it is frequently intercut with Kay jilling off in the shower. Now, I *like* Kay; I do. But interrupting an Abigail Clayton Reverse Cowgirl (TM) is sacrilegious.

After this, I watched "7 into Snowy" in sequence and poor Annette Haven dropped back to #2 :-). This state of affairs lasted until the next Annette movie and so on, and on and on... :-)

I would love to watch this flick with its original soundtrack in; "Ja, fick mich" is too gruesome. Provisionally therefore, I'll give this solid classic a rating of 3.45.

Sex World (1978)

When I first wathced Spinelli's "Sex World" (1978) it was in a proper movie theatre, with popcorn and the like (I never took raincoats to the pornies, I was underage anyway :-)). I still remember how impressed I was by this very well made production, the good quasi-sf plot, the direction and the quality of the acting. I came out convinced that this really proved that porn films were as good as the bulk of mainstream commercial releases, and that as a result this was indeed porn perfection. For 10 years, "Sex World" shone bright in my porn memories and thoroughly deserved its perfect rating of 4.00.

Finally, I re-watched it this year and sadly this state of affairs is no more. Certainly it remains one of the best porn films ever made and is still a joy to watch. But it is primarily a "film" and the sex scenes are sadly deficient in both quality and duration. The plot is so lengthy that there is inevtiably little time left for the pumping; normally I do not mind this but "SW" definetely overdoes it and ends up marginalizing the sex rather than just accentuate the plot. Great scenes (for example Lesllie Bovee's g-g fantasy involving her neighbour Abigail Clayton) are set up in a wonderful manner but then the sex fizzles out after a couple of minutes, obviously due to the lack of time. Secondly, the casting of a pleiad of big stars (Annette, Abigail, Lesllie Bovee, Kay Parker, Desiree West, Amber Hunt, John Leslie, Cris Cassidy) also poses the problem of having to accommodate all of them in a satisfactory manner and avoiding the Waste Of Resources (TM) ogre. "Sex World" unfortunately fails in that respect as well; Abby is in the film for no more than 5 minutes; Annette for 10 at most; and the lovely Cris Cassidy for all of 15 seconds. One is left wondering what might have been...

Finally, a weakness in the editing has left many sequences (for example the famous one between Desiree West and the once-bigoted-but-now-seduced John Leslie) fragmented throughout the film, or just plain choppy. There is also a bit too much close-up, a frequent curse of vintage porn.

All this means that "Sex World" cannot be considered a perfect porn film anymore. It still remains a must-see though. It is a very enjoyable movie, some of the sex is quite good and it contains some scenes of still unsurpassed beauty. The introduction of the Lesllie Bovee-Abigail Clayton scene remains one of the sexiest ever - even though the actual sex doesn't follow up on the promise. And Cris Cassidy swooping over sleeping Annette Haven like some Nordic goddess remains one of those immortal pictures in the history of sex films.

Heartily recommended despite all the grumbling. Rating: 3.60

Barbara Broadcast

This is another of these fallen Gods of my adolescent memories. Henry Paris' kooky tale of a day in the life of a famous Xaviera Hollander-like "sex personality" (Annette Haven yet again) still contains some of the most brilliant premises ever to adorn a sex flick. The restaurant sequences in particular remain among the funniest, weirdest and most erotic in the history of adult movies. Unfortunately on second viewing Paris' famous picture degenerates into a patchwork of unrelated sex scenes, all of them nicely set up to be sure, but still unconnected and at times shoddily shot. A perfect example of the mentality behind the making of this film is the Jamie Gillis-Constance Money bondage scene that is attached at the end of the movie under the flimsiest of justifications. This scene was an outtake from the "Opening of Misty Beethoven" and attached to "Barbara Broadcast" in order to capitalize on Connie's immense popularity at the time.

That said, some of the scenes still remain intensely erotic despite occassionally poor camera work and Henry Paris' well known obsession with the blowjob. By no means a "perfect film" by the more refined standards I have been currently employing, but still a very decent film whose historical importance upgrades it to a must-rent. Rating: 3.05

Bodies in Heat (1982)

Another porn spinoff of a then contemporary mainstream hit, in this case "Body Heat". Despite the presence of a heavyweight cast (Annie, yet again, accompanied by Herschel Savage, Eric Edwards, Lisa De Leeuw (non-sex role) and a short-haired Kimberly Carson) and an apparently ample budget (by porn standards), the normally very effective Paul Vatelli doesn't manage to create a very convincing film this time around. The plot is unconvincing and by the end borders on the ludicrous. Thankfully, Vatelli is on form when it comes to the sex scenes, most notable being the ones between Herschel-Kimberly Carson and then Herschel-Annette Haven (of course :-)). A decent choice for a couple and certainly a good film by any standards, but still nowhere near the expected standards of the Golden Age.

Rating: 3.10

Between Lovers

Most of the time therefore, porn spinoffs or parodies fail to measure up to their mainstream counterparts. There are exceptions though. Henri Pachard's magnificent "Between Lovers" is an example of one that worked, indeed worked so well as to actually surpass the mainstream original.

This original is "Having It All", starring Dyan Cannon (a Laker co-fan as I understand :-)), the improbable tale of a lady finding herself a de facto bigamist and, not wishing to dump either of her other halves, decides to time share between them. Despite the silly the mainstream works ok as light Hollywood comedies go. The porno however has a better plot, better acting and better direction.

In this case the lady (the majestic Jessie St. James in one of her finest roles) gradually grows apart from her philandering husband (John Leslie) and finds solace on a trip to LA in a sensitive Joey Silvera (here proving that, given the chance, he can act well). Unfortunately John decides to make an effort to win back his wife and Jessie begins to find herself torn between husband and boyfriend. Things become even more complicated when Joey proposes and Jessie, fearful of wounding him, accepts.

The bigamy premise itself is not the major point of the movie as it is in the mainstream, nor is the "time sharing" gimmick (which indeed IS the main point in the original). Sure, the timesharing is there (proposed by Jessie's best friend, Georgina Spelvin in great acting form) but it is IMHO only a minor point. A very clever twist, and one NOT exploited in the original is the coincidence which has the two unsuspecting co-husbands meeting on their own accord and forming a strong friendship. This play between male-bonding and loyalty versus sexual drive and love is unprecedented in a porno and would be an excellent premise for many a mainstream picture. The resolution is also believable and even touching.

After such a storyline it's hard to discuss sex positions and groupings. But the sex is there, plentiful and hot, decisively adding to the movie's merit. All in all this is in my opinion the finest "couples" hardcore movie ever made, along with "1001 Erotic Nights". Also like "1001" it is such a wonderful film that one cannot dream of grudging it the mark of perfection.

Rating: 4.00

Taxi Girls

How many times have hardcore fans lamented over the premature retirement of a performer of exceptional beauty and talent? Most will doubtlessly recall the recent universal disappointment when the sensational Roxanne Blaze left the industry after only 16 flicks, without even turning up to pick up her (deserved for once) AVN award. Old farts (genuine or aspiring :-)) will point out that this phenomenon is sadly far from being rare. Barbara Bourbon left us with only 3 films to remember her by; Abigail Clayton with less than 20; Bambi Woods with 3; Constance Money with far too few. I could go on at the risk of becoming more depressed.

One of the classic cases of such a meteoric and short lived career is that of the lovely blonde Nanci Suiter who abruptly abandoned X-rated movies after a mere 5 films. Perhaps the best example of how beautiful and sexy she was, and by far the most important in terms of participation is the fluffy little film "Taxi Girls". After being rounded up by the city's police one time too many, a large number of street hookers decide to follow Nanci's plan to set up a taxi service offering more than mere transportation :-). The girls have an uphill task, fighting uncooperative bank managers, grasping car dealers and an aggrieved to the point of violence competition by the entrenched status of cabbies (and that last sentence sure read like Marx :-)).

An excellent little fluffer (but then again, I'm known to be partial to fluffers) with a cast to match; Nanci Suiter, Serena, Jamie Gillis and John Holmes are the best known of the lot. The sex scenes are numerous and well shot and Nanci, participating in virtually every one, is simply a delight to watch. Let me just say that the honourable Mr. Wilhelm when visiting me last year, exclaimed after seing Nanci for the first time: "My God...". Enough said :-)

The movie may be hard to find uncut in America these days, as it contains a fister and a rather graphic rape scene (though the girls eventually get away and the bad guys receive theit come-uppance). You get no marks in guessing that Serena is among the raped and Gillis among the raping :-).

Not to be missed. Rating: 3.55

Mary, Mary (1976)

On the subject of short but brilliant careers, what better example is there than Constance Money. This gorgeous little blonde, justly famous after starring in Henry Paris' "The Opening of Misty Beethoven" in 1976, capitalized on her box office appeal with the superb "Mary, Mary" in the same year. In one of her interviews Connie said that unlike "Misty" (which she hated along with its director, partly because Paris took 6 months to shoot it and partly because he coined her nom-de-porn which with some justification she found silly), she loved "Mary, Mary" and considered it a superior film. Personally, I wouldn't go as far; the efforts are not comparable: their scale and aspirations are radically different. "Mary, Mary" is a fluffy little film on the subject of a liberated businessman (John Leslie) who, when faced with a grevious case of premature ejaculatis, sells his soul to the Devil in exchange for an all powerful aphrodisiac. Sure enough, the Devil (the Arranger is the proper name in this film) produces a miracle paste that when rubbed or ingested or otherwise consumed produces more wood than the whole of Canada :-). A lot of fucking ensues (of course :-)) culminating in a climactic orgy (hmmm, interesting choice of words :-)) in which the Arranger comes down, kills off the particpants (who include Sharon Thorpe among others) and carries off Connie into the sunset, proving that the Devil has good taste in women :-).

A brilliant, sexy romp and perhaps Constance Money's finest flick in terms of sex. A keeper. Rating: 3.70

Candy Stripers

Let's finish today's monster by another fluffer. The claim to fame of the cute little romp "Candystripers" are the two notorious fisting scenes that are almost universally cut nowadays. This is very unfortuante because it obscures the fact that the tale of the day in the life of three apprentice nurses is a lovely little film, as entertaining today as it was almost 20 years ago. The cast is as good as they come, with Amber Hunt, Sharon Thorpe and one of my great 70s darlings, Cris Cassidy, (billed here as Montana) on the forefront; the plot is not much but is still light and entertaining from beginning to end. A refreshing flick, heartily recommended even in its cut version. Speaking of the cuts, my version included the fisters; personally I do not enjoy such scenes (and these fisters are as explicit as they come, one of them involving TWO fists at one time) but I remain firmly of the opinion that if the director deemed it necessary to put them in he must know better; the viewer has simply the option to watch something else and doesn't need Auntie Sam to take care of his morals.

Rating: 3.35

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Created: Saturday, April 20, 1996, 3:27:06 PM