A History of the Blue Movie (1970)

Clearly the standout compilation of early “stag” footage, the only competition worthy of consideration probably being Bill Osco’s comparatively all over the place Hollywood Blue. It contains all those fabled favorites that once only saw the insides of brothels and affiliated “gentlemen’s clubs” you may have just heard or read about.

The earliest American stag movie (or “smoker” referring to the audiences’ outlet for tension generated from viewing, as opposed to “loop“, a term which did not enter common usage until the blue movie arcades and peep shows of the ’60s) known to survive, A Free Ride a/k/a A Grass Sandwich (circa 1915) directed by “A. Wise Guy” and starring “the Jazz Girls“, still contains seriously steamy threesome action between two commendably eager females and one ready, willing and very able male.  The subsequent On the Beach (a/k/a Getting His Goat !) from the early ’20s already adds a remarkably thorough comedic plot to the pornographic proceedings as a bevy of bathing beauties con a shy but lascivious lad (poverty row comedian Creighton Hale who played bit parts for D.W. Griffith) into poking his pecker through a hole in the wall, only for him to receive oral relief from the titular mammal on the other side ! Extensive excerpts from further down the decade’s notorious explicit cartoon Buried Treasure a/k/a Eveready Harton (rumored to be the work of either Felix the Cat‘s Otto Mesmer or even the Fleischer brothers…) show a little guy getting into all sorts of increasingly surreal mischief courtesy of his unfeasibly large member.

You can file the generically dire Keyhole Portraits and assorted snippets of ’50s stripper reels (anonymous apart from legendary Tempest Storm) under F for Filler. Far more interesting is the much discussed Candy Barr movie Smart Aleck  from the dawn of the ’50s which sees the then allegedly still underage burlesque beauty who gained real world notoriety as the much later girlfriend of shady nightclub owner Jack Ruby (the man who shot Lee Harvey Oswald who allegedly shot…well, you know that !) categorically refusing to go down on her mate who’s chomping at the bit. Hence a less appealing lady is drafted in to perform just that task with such vigor as to practically mesmerize and indeed overshadow somewhat the loop’s central starlet.  The movie’s true highlight however is the frequently referenced Nun’s Story, made somewhere between 1949 and 1954, about a stunning Sister who sheds her habit to make genuinely passionate love with her Elvis-pompadoured boyfriend before re-donning the cloth at scene’s end for maximum Catholic consternation.

Now is as good a time as any to shed a little light, if any were needed, on the man responsible for this collection, the late great Alex de Renzy. Prior to his emergence as one of the greatest fornication filmmakers of all time with acclaimed adult classics like Femmes de SadeBaby Face and Pretty Peaches, his main claim to an as of yet incubative intimate industry’s fame was his indelible role as proprietor of the Screening Room, one of San Francisco’s pioneering pre-Pussycat porno palaces.  Not much of a surprise then that the latter part of History kind of belies its title by providing what must have been perceived at the time as mere publicity for the director’s place of business. Of course, over four decades down the line, it’s easy enough to guess that time would have been particularly kind to this self-serving section which now functions effectively as some kind of time capsule.

A massage parlor sequence prefigures de Renzy’s early classic Fantasy Girls and has cute acting, copious nudity from both sexes but no visible penetration as an inexperienced masseuse tries to fend off the amorous advances of her horny client. Beautiful Bonnie Holiday, a too frequently overlooked adult actress who was instrumental in bringing her goddess girlfriend Annette Haven into the industry (the occasion being de Renzy’s 1973 MIA Lady Freaks), languidly responds to an unseen interviewer as she teasingly strips and pleasures herself in a wonderfully erotic segment building up to a full boil.  Last scene has a young couple responding to a modeling ad and turning up at, you guessed it, the Screening Room for an artistically shot audition that already showcases embryonic versions of the type of visual flourishes the director was to refine in later work.

All in all, a vitally important excursion into porno’s past as well as an eloquent charting of the genre’s evolution, or as naysayers might claim lack thereof, in terms of style and content. Serious students of sex cinema will doubtlessly benefit most from this hardcore history lesson though even the occasional hardcore hound who couldn’t care less should find particular portions to his liking.

Directed by Alex de Renzy. Produced by de Renzy for Graffiti Productions. Edited by Jack Kerpan. Starring Bonnie Holiday (Herself), Candy Barr (“Smart Aleck“) & Tempest Storm (“Desert Dance“). Running time : 116 minutes.

In adult’s early days, the purported “documentary” detailing the evolution of the very genre it belonged to as it took place was but one ruse to get around the censor’s vigilance

By Dries Vermeulen

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