eyelights: its uncensored look at blue movies.
eyesores: its limited scope.
Most of us have seen porn. Our culture is saturated with sex and, since the internet, pornography is omnipresent, inescapable; now everyone is making their own home videos and putting them online. But there was a time when adult pictures weren’t so readily available and as socially acceptable. Where and when did it all begin? How did it get to where we’re at?
Enter ‘A History of the Blue Movie’.
I found this 1970 documentary at a local indie video store one day, while browsing. Its cover suggested that it collected a bevy of historical blue movies, but it didn’t have a proper synopsis. However, given its title, which seems to propose a historical perspective on the matter, I rented it anyway; I was curious about the history of erotic cinema.
Sadly, this is not a documentary proper: ‘A History of the Blue Movie’ is actually just a two-hour chronological collection of blue movies from 1915 to 1970 – with only approximately 5 minutes’ worth of voice-over commentary to give us a historical perspective. It’s hardly a thorough analysis on its development or the social mores of the time.
On the flipside, it lets the pictures speak for themselves: they are uncut, uncensored. And, given that they are shown in chronological order, we can get a good sense of the various trends – particularly as the technology became more affordable and it wasn’t exclusively the realm of professional filmmakers; blue movies became less technically proficient.
The most interesting part is when we hit the post-WWII era, because puritanical values changed society so much that the trend became penny arcade films, which showed mere snippets of women in their underwear or in bikinis; there was little actual nudity, let alone sex. Men would watch these in booths and pay an extra dime for every other snippet.
Pretty lame. But I guess that’s the best they could get then.
The thing is, blue movies were hard to find and expensive to rent; initially, they were shown almost exclusively in fraternities and gentlemen’s clubs. It’s interesting to note that the films were extremely explicit right from the onset, but that they only became tame in the ’40s, with some films only showing “girls next door” undressing in their bedrooms.
There were a number of highlights in ‘A History of the Blue Movie’:
- A Free Ride: Dated 1915, it’s one of the earliest known stag films, which shows two women walking home on a country road and accepting a lift from a stranger. Naturally, he hits on them and gradually gets them to have sex with him – at first separately, and then together. I was stunned by how explicit this was given the time.
- On the Beach: Dated 1923, this was part of a genre of stag films that focused on humour more than sex. Here, a bookish man is interrupted in his reading by three young women, who have come to the beach to bathe. Naked. He takes their clothes and tells them he’ll only return them in exchange for sex. They barter with him and get him to throw in 50$ and agree to only have sex through a gloryhole in a nearby fence. He gets the best sex he ever had, but little does he know that they played a trick on him: they propped a goat up against the fence. Lol.
- Buried Treasure: This 1929 an animated film may have been produced by the same people who animated Krazy Kat. In a land where everyone and everything is screwing everyone and everything else it shows a man with an obscenely huge penis try to get laid. Obsessed as he is, he even mistakes a guy for a girl and ends up having a cock fight with another guy.
- Smart Alec: Starring the infamous Candy Bar, this 1951 short is notable for a disturbing moment when the man, after having had sex in various positions already, forcefully tries to get the girl to give him head. Yikes. Most unpleasant. But it changes tack soon after, as the girl calls in a friend to come give give head to her guy and it turns into a threesome. Still that lengthy bit was a dramatic turnoff.
- The Nun’s Story: A cheapie from 1959, shot only in a cramped room with poor lighting, it has the nerve to show a nun coming home, undressing and masturbating with a vibrator. Then a man sees her through an open window and comes have sex with her. What’s stunning is that it shows her rubbing his ass whilst in the missionary position. Pretty bold.
- Interview (?): There’s a late ’60s interview with a pretty girl who discusses her first sexual encounters and all the things that she likes sexually. It begins from the neck up, and it was already quite a fascinating revelation. But when the camera pulled back to show her naked body, it got yummier. Even more so as it honed in on her pussy and she started to caress it softly. Yum.
The most interesting part of this collection is that it serves as a reminder that we haven’t invented anything. We sometimes like to think that we’re pushing sexual boundaries, but we’re not: everything’s been done before. Oh, yeah, they used do that too. The key difference is how accepted most of it is in society, is all. And that’s changing.
All told, ‘A History of the Blue Movie’ is a fairly entertaining glimpse at the first 60 years of adult cinema. It’s not as informative as I would have liked it to be, but at least what little information it does provide seems accurate enough; it doesn’t feel exploitative quite like ‘The Oral Generation‘ did. Plus which it has many rather sexy moments.
It’s well worth seeing. You know… if you’re a history buff. (Ahem…)
Date of viewing: March 24, 2016