By John Champion
Ah, the 1970s... when white men had afros and women had tan lines (seriously large tan lines). One of the great benefits of the DVD revolution is that pristine digital quality can cheaply provide a wealth of entertainment into the hands of consumers in an archival format. The same way CDs changed the music industry, DVDs are preserving movies which otherwise would have been lost either due to rising tape duplication costs, neglect or discontinued production.
And DVDs are cheap for a format which (taken care of) won't warp, stretch or lose its signal the way magnetic tape will. Distributors release new films almost simultaneously on tape and disk while offering up a host of bonus materials to entice consumers to buy (rather than rent) DVD. That perfect digital picture and CD-quality sound will stay perfect as long as you own the disk.
If you've only been watching recent adult films, you may be surprised by the following classics which have been upgraded to this new medium. This first batch of Retro Porn titles from the 1970s represent an era when the genre was just starting to escape "stag film" status and enter into large theatres. "Porno chic," if you will. Filmmakers were treating their movies as just that -- real movies which deserved acting, a story and production values just as much as any other film. That's not to say that these titles aren't there to serve the purpose of showing attractive people having explicit sex though...
The Devil in Miss Jones (1972)
Georgina Spelvin stars as a timid woman who, after her suicide, is given a second chance to live her life as the lusty sybriate she wanted to be. The simple story sets up a series of increasingly debauched sex scenes orchestrated by Harry Reems as "The Teacher." One of the best qualities of the film is the realization that the acting is actually very good. Spelvin goes through a convincing character change from her uptight life to the earthy, sex-obsessed devil she becomes. It's rare for a sex film to tackle anything more than getting its stars naked. This one goes leaps and bounds beyond by tackling issues like religion, compulsion, obsession and questioning our erotic desires.
Behind the Green Door (1975)
This one movie made Marilyn Chambers famous if not a household name and made its producers, Jim and Artie Mitchell, infamous. The former Ivory Soap box-cover model plays a woman who is kidnapped and whisked away to an undergound sex club where she is "initiated" into a life of unbridled hedonism. The club with its twisted clientelle stands in stark contrast to the fresh-faced Chambers as she engages in group sex and even a romp on a trepeze. In this day and age, the plot line is certainly not feminist friendly if taken literally. As a piece of kitschy nostaligic entertainment, it is highly enjoyable. And once you get past the bizarre set up, the sex scenes depicted here are certainly a far cry from the exploitative and violent extremes seen in some of the films being produced in the genre today.
Debbie Does Dallas (1978)
Probably the defining film of the late 70s/early 80s adult world, Debbie Does Dallas plays up every cliche and every formula before or since. It works though. The cheerleaders find themselves in a bind when Debbie can't afford to travel to Dallas to go pro, and they decide to take up jobs for extra cash. Needless to say, the jobs quickly turn into sex-for-hire. Everyone involved seems to know they were making a laugh of a film while keeping the sex plentiful and enjoyable as well. There aren't any of the perfect bodies seen in today's porn, but what a nice change of pace to see a variety of women, all natural, and doing what came naturally then and now. Bambi Woods is underused as the lead character as she is by far the most beautiful of the cast and carries off her naive character (well... one would hope it's just a character) with great charm.
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