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PORN CLUB: Erotic Reviews of Radley Metzger

PinkLabel.TV‘s new adult film review review series PORN CLUB seeks to encourage discussions about porn as an indie film genre, focusing on classic and contemporary titles available through our streaming network. Topics span technical aspects of how a movie was made, directorial influences, perceived social or historical impact, and other aspects of interest to the reviewer.

We kick off this month with the legendary adult filmmaker Radley Metzger, also known for his hardcore films under the pseudonym Henry Paris, with three of his earlier titles, CAMILLE 2000 (1969), The Lickerish Quartet (1970), and SCORE (1974).


CAMILLE 2000

From the essential director of elegant erotic arthouse, comes the dazzling new 2000 version of Alexandre Dumas’ The Lady of the Camelias.

A child of the sixties sexual revolution, beautiful, sensuous Marguerite (Daniele Gaubert) is addicted to sex and money. She is kept by a wealthy man, has a string of young lovers and hosts wild orgies in her luxurious villa. When she falls in love with the handsome bachelor Armond (Nino Castelnuovo), he insists in absolute fidelity. Known by her reputation, Armond’s controlling father soon intervenes, triggering a tragic turn of events.

“Marguerite and her groupies are involved in every fetish imaginable, culminating in an elaborate s&m party in which mock-jails are set up, chains are tied around waists and throats, and playful punishments are administered. Metzger’s attitude toward sex is bittersweet, not judging. He’s like a respectful voyeur, examining a moment in time in minute detail, fixing the moment on film, then moving on.”
— Bright Lights Film Journal

“While the movie certainly has its sexy moments and does deliver a heavy amount of nudity, the naked panting and caresses here are ultimately quite tame in comparison to some of the smuttier and enticing ‘sex films’ out there. For me, this turned out to be an even more welcome surprise. With the focus less on sex and more on character, Metzger sheds his reputation and instead shows just why he is one of the more respected directors of Erotica out there.”
— Varied Celluloid

 

Porn Club Reviews:

1967’s I am Curious films changed the face of erotic cinema. Films had started as the nudie cuties, where ample nudity was on display, and were now pushing more and more boundaries and in 1969 erotic cinema was on the cusp of going full hardcore. Radley Metzger’s career spanned both sides of the softcore to the hardcore period of erotic cinema. Oddly, Camille 2000 seems regressive in terms of the sexuality shown on the screen.

Camille 2000 is based on Alexandre Dumas’, fils, 1848 novel La Dame aux Camélias, which in 1852 he made into a stage play. Over the years many plays, films, and even an opera have been based on La Dame aux Camélias, which is known as Camille in English speaking nations. Radley Metzger and writer Michael DeForrest’s take on Alexandre Dumas’, fils, classic novel was set in the future when it was released yet is now the very dated past in the present.

Radley Metzger and Michael DeForrest have kept the story in Camille 2000 close to Alexandre Dumas’, fils, original novel. Armand Duval (Nino Castelnuovo), who hails from New York, is summering in Rome for the first time. His friend Gaston (Roberto Bisacco) wants to hook Armand up for the summer. Marguerite Gautier (Danièle Gaubert) catches Armand’s eye. Gaston tries to keep Armand away from Marguerite as not only is Marguerite promiscuous, she is also married to the Duke. Armand won’t listen to Gaston and pursues Marguerite regardless.

The story for Camille 2000 is fantastic. The characters are well-rounded, and Armand and Marguerite’s firecracker romance captures the viewer’s attention. The end of the film does slow down a little; however, the viewer is intrigued enough at this point that no one will be tuning out around the end.
Flash, Adult DVD Talk

 

Here I want to add a CW for some of the behavior of the men in this flick. Prep yourself, as a 1969 moviegoer, for consent violations in the form of what they consider to be playful flirting. Holy shit, the way they were picking up, at times literally, on women was troublesome. I’ll add another CW for language they used in the flick. I won’t repeat it here, but I let out an audible “WTF” when Marguerite called her designer a specific homosexual slur. I just wasn’t ready for that and I began to worry if I’d like the flick. I began looking deeper than dialogue and fell all the way in to their efforts of “modern” furniture that appeared to live on the line between fashion forward and ridiculous. I fell in to the funky soundtrack that was surprisingly uncheesy. Like, there was brown chicken, but no brown cow to the music. (*sing it with me* Brown chicken brown cow!) I loved the fashion and set design, although I’ll admit that I hated the poor little rich brats characters. It wasn’t a perfect movie.

The director chose some interesting perspectives for the sex scenes. They were the good kind of interesting, not the chin scratching kind of interesting. My absolute favorite shot in the whole flick was what I’ll call the cunnilingus flower scene. You’ll know it when you see it. By the time I reached that point in the flick, I’d learned how the sex scenes evolved from the characters making eyes to undressing to their orgasms. But, I also learned what was considered risqué or what was considered “blue” to the audiences of 1969. I say that to encourage you to watch this flick with a clean slate. Don’t go in expecting to see the details we see in 2019 scenes when the focus is fucking. Instead, go in for the love story and allow your heart and body to be turned on as the tension unfolds.
Jet Noir

 

It’s a widely accepted, but not well-studied idea that Golden Era pornography is all about wah wah pedal-laden electric guitar strums. This opinion gets the era partially correct. In observing the early Golden Era work of groundbreaking auteur Radley Metzger — namely in 1969’s Camille 2000 — the more milquetoast and refined sensibilities of libertine behavior are highlighted. This is an aesthetic that is, very much in line with much of Metzger’s early work, but arguably is not conceptually something that works well with a deeply funky score. Rather, Camille 2000’s mood is significantly aided by its blues rock-driven psychedelic soundtrack. Moreso than costuming, location shots, and set design, it is the music, and the vibe it evokes, that builds the crucible in which the elements that define the film’s distinguished, modern feel. There is something to the importance of music setting the ambiance that defines the mood and vibe of the proceedings that ultimately allows for subtly distinctive character acting guided by eroticism and raw sexuality as the film’s calling card of excellence.
Marcus K Dowling

 

If you have a penchant for late 60’s art house nostalgia you’ll certainly get a kick out of this film, with echos of everything from Barbarella to Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner.  I’d take this film for the soundtrack alone.  It’s not particularly racy or hardcore, and the story is not altogether original, but it has its moments.  More aesthetic than visceral, most of the sex scenes involving the protagonists anticipate a softcore version of  Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors.  Combined with the soundtrack I was reminded of those soft psychedelic scenes from productions like Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s Space 1999 (I’m a SciFi Geek). Although, in some ways trite (you can smell the tragic ending from the beginning), there are moments of snappy dialogue, rather clever really, e.g. using metaphor and the language of fashion to delineate sexuality, relationship roles and expectations re: chastity and fidelity.  It runs a bit long, but the viewer is at least presented with a finish that ties up nicely with the opening.
Stephen Biggs

 


The Lickerish Quartet

An aristocratic family becomes obsessed with a striking young blond actress (Silvana Venturelli of Camille 2000) while watching her in what appears to be a crude, silent stag film. After a visit to a local carnival they meet the girl in person and invite her back to their lavish mansion (the Castle of Balsorano in Italy’s Abruzzi Mountains.) The blonde visitor takes turns seducing the family members, where she unlocks each of their fantasies, family secrets and hidden desires.

The Lickerish Quartet is Metzger’s magnum opus, a delirious surreal erotic fantasy, stylish and elegant.

“…ripe with incredible color and décor and movement.”
— Vincent Canby, The New York Times

“An Outrageously kinky masterpiece.”
— Andy Warhol

 

PORN CLUB Reviews

Before he was renown adult film auteur Henry Paris, Radley Metzger was Radley Metzger, the softcore film auteur. Radley Metzger never really changed, the industry and what viewers were looking for changed. After he was pushed into hardcore films, Radley Metzger’s name changed; however, his films didn’t they just ended up with hardcore sex instead of softcore sex.

A mere four years after The Lickerish Quartet was released Radley Metzger would be releasing the first of his Henry Paris fully hardcore films. However, in 1970, Radley Metzger was careful to ensure that what he shot stayed on the softcore side of the scale. However, The Lickerish Quartet could have just as easily been made as a hardcore film.

After viewing the sex scenes in The Lickerish Quartet, it becomes evident to the viewer as to why Radley Metzger became one of the top adult film auteurs in the 1970s. Radley Metzger, along with his actors and actresses, creates beautifully erotic sex scenes in The Lickerish Quartet without a single shot of penetration.
Flash, AdultDVDTalk

 

Erika Remberg’s scene with the beautiful antagonist feel much more romantic and is by far the most erotic scene in the film in my opinion. The two are dressed beautifully, with the backdrop for their tryst taking place in the opulent room once more. The pair watch the stag film that started it all. This time though, the people in film are Silvana and Erika. Together they explore themes of bondage, female desire, and lesbian/bisexual intimacy. As Erika’s character comes closer to orgasm, the camera zooms in on her stomach. She pants fervently as Silvana and Frank Wolff’s character’s begin to intertwine and meld together almost. It’s filled with the lustful anticipation I personally feel is lost in all of the artful storytelling and luxurious, almost gaudy set pieces that tend to become focal points more than the characters telling the story.

Overall, this I thought this film was beautiful. To quote the great Roger Ebert: “The Lickerish Quartet” is too good for its own good, which makes it very little good at all as a skin flick.” and I can’t help but agree. The camera works is exceptional and manages to convey the emotions of the characters as well as showcase all of the beauty that the set has to offer. The acting is refreshingly profound, and the script/plot itself are very poignant, but maybe it’s just too much for what this film is supposed to be. Too taboo and art nouveau to be a porno, and too sexy to be taken seriously. Maybe also too ahead of it’s time. It asks it’s viewer to look introspectively at their shame and their desires. And while that may be what sets this film apart from others, it also stifles it. In the end, the result is a lusty, psychological journey that makes the viewer actually think.
— Voodoo

 

The Lickerish Quartet, was variously reviewed by Andy Warhol, “An outrageously kinky masterpiece;” Vincent Canby, “Metzger’s magnum opus, … ripe with incredible color and décor and movement;” while Roger Ebert considered “the plot so unbelievably, and unnecessarily, complex that the erotic possibilities are mostly lost.” While Ebert has a point—the story within a story within a story, and a similar layering of movies—gets very confusing, to some extent it doesn’t matter. As with most of his work, the American-born Metzger shot this film in Europe with cinematographer Hans Jura. The camera work, whether of the motorcycle stunt, or the castle’s interior, or the surrounding landscaping, is what makes this film exceptional. The crossover of reality with illusion and the visuals, makes you think of Fellini, and Antonioni’s Blowup, which in 1966, was groundbreaking with its explicit sexuality.
— Nancy Jainchill

 

I first saw this film as an undergrad in a class where we also watched Michael Powell’s 1960 slasher-and-voyeurism flick Peeping Tom. Voyeurism was on my mind. The pleasures of looking. And, after the Argento seminar, the violence of the eye. Metzger’s film plays with these elements so well. He also asks what we, the viewers, bring to the table and what the film brings to us.

This question gets worked out in the sex. Each family member has their own erotic encounter with her, fulfilling, exposing … There’s a gorgeous romp in a technicolor library with color-coded books, the floor covered in a lexicon of filth, one in nature, and another in front of the projector that illustrates the complicated position of being an object and subject of fantasy. Metzger delights in shifting the viewer position, keeping you on your toes.

Today the is-she-isn’t-she the woman in the film calls to mind deepfakes and the question of agency, as well as the ethics of the technologies we have at our disposal. There is something quaint, almost wholesome, in the stag film on the family’s projector, considering how far from those days we’ve come.
— Saskia Vogel

 

The Lickerish Quartet” is beautifully filmed. It’s clear that Metzger and Stanley Kubrick were thinking along the same lines at the time. You’ve got lingering shots and still frames that could serve as Italian castle-themed postcards.

As a pornographic film, it’s pretty quaint by modern standards. There is a total of three sex scenes, not counting the ever present stag film reel that our characters obsess over. All of the sex acts are simulated and feel tamer than what you might see on an episode of ‘GLOW’ or ‘Game of Thrones’.

While the plot is hard to follow, Metzger makes a statement about 1970’s attitudes towards pornography and sexuality. You’ve got three archetypes, all of which are uncomfortable with their own sexuality in one way or another. There’s an older man who feels discarded by his wife’s disinterest. A child, scarred by early exposure to sexuality and certainly some abuse. And there’s a woman who cites sex as a source of discomfort, an allusion to her non-hetero tendencies–quite the statement for 1970.
— Patrick Parker, XCritic


SCORE

Metzger’s bisexual classic, featuring the legendary Cal Culver (better known as Casey Donovan for his work in gay vintage porn, such as Boys in the Sand by Wakefield Poole).

Having explored heterosexual obsessions in the critically acclaimed Camille 2000 and The Lickerish Quartet, Metzger goes all the way in SCORE, a tale of a happily married swinging couple (Claire Wilbur and Gerald Grant), who make a bet that they can seduce a couple of newly weds (Lynn Lowry “I Drink Your Blood” and Cal Culver) during a weekend get-together a their luxury Riviera villa. An erotic classic, populated with strikingly beautiful people who are into free love, “dressing up,” and the fine art of seduction.

“This 1974 movie… treats lesbian and gay male sex in such an upfront way. Both sexes lock lips, engage in oral sex, the women put on strap-ons and the guys have anal sex. Although the film’s attitude to freewheeling sexuality seems slightly quaint to modern eyes – bisexuality might rub off on people and there’s an odd moment that seems to suggest the best way to deal with having a gay husband is for the wife to strap on a dildo – for its time it has a very open approach to sex and sexuality.”
— BigGayPictureShow

“An absolutely beautifully shot film that tells a fun tale of bisexuality with a unique visual style.”
— Adult DVD Talk

“A sex farce that was far ahead of its time in refashioning the erotic date movie with humor and extensive hardcore gay, lesbian, and bi sex.”
— Images Journal

 

PORN CLUB Reviews

I’m partial to films featuring house parties with short acrimonious guest lists. Extra points if it includes a potentially emotionally crippling party game. Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party. William Friedkin’s The Boys in the Band. Mike Nichols’ Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. And now, I will include Radley Metzger’s art porno classic Score.

“I should also mention that all four of these films were stage plays before they were adapted. (In the stage versions of Score, Sly Stallone notably played Mike the ‘repair man.’) But unlike Leigh’s film, where you really can feel the edge of the stage, most likely because it was shot like a sit-com, Score dives into all dimensions of visual language while retaining the great writing most likely sourced from the stage play.
Cheyenne Picardo

 

This night gets weird fast and I’m here for it. After flirting with Eddie (credited in Score as Cal Culver, but better known by his alias Casey Donovan of Boys In The Sand) and mentioning his past in the Navy, Jack dons a sailor’s cap and jumps up on a counter, dick out and reporting for booty. The guests have barely been in the house and Jack is NOT. FUCKING. AROUND. with his shore leave vibe. Additionally, this is when it’s pretty clear that Score isn’t solely male gaze fodder and male bisexuality isn’t a myth. Culver and Gerald Grant (Jack) performed in gay and straight porn scenes, and their screen chemistry seems lined with actual attraction to one another. In their sex scene later on, Eddie is red and sweaty and seems to be having a ball. And a cock.
— Ms Deeviant

 

I cordially invite all fans of bisexual action to get a gander at this hot flick made back in 1974. Director Radley Metzger does a fine job creating a pair of realistic and relatable couples who find themselves and their true happiness by openly exploring their sexualities.
Holly Kingstown, Step Back In Time For Some Fine Bi Action in “Score”, Fleshbot

 

PORN CLUB is an adult film review series presented by PinkLabel.TV. Tune in next month for our next set of reviews, spanning classics to contemporary.

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