Det kære legetøj AKA Sex and the Law AKA Danish Blue (1968)

Gabriel Axel is a great director (BABETTE’S FEAST his masterpiece and HAGBARD AND SIGNE also of high quality) who I was fortunate enough to interview for Variety newspaper back in the day. I was always curious about his porno films, and SEX AND THE LAW gives us some insight into his playful approach.

Purporting to be a documentary, with a winsome femme narrator guiding us through the oddities and hypocrisies of Danish obscenity laws which supposedly got her in trouble personally, it’s a light-hearted mockumentary that’s hopelessly dated. By the time it was released in America in 1970 it was already dated, as Danish laws had freed up what was permissible and XXX explicitness (unlike the timid and even censored footage shown here) was all the rage in U.S. adult cinemas.

Nearly all in black & white (there is a very brief and pointless color interlude at the very end of the feature), SEX AND THE LAW is remarkably similar to Alex De Renzy’s breakthrough hit PORNOGRAPHY IN DENMARK. I wouldn’t be surprised if Alex had seen the earlier Danish film and gotten inspiration.

Both films feature lame “man on the street” (and woman) interviews asking a cross section of Danes what they think of porn. We visit dirty book shops for very fake sequences that mock the customers, always purchasing magazines or books “for a friend”. The narrator tells of her own misadventures, working in porn and even being some sort of guidance counselor (!), which landed her in court. A sex fair in Denmark (led by the Doctors Kronhausen) is covered, just like Alex did.

The niceties of what can be shown and what can’t is of obvious historical interest, re: late ’60s standards in both Denmark and the U.S., and Axel keeps pounding away at the age-old double standard: it’s OK if it’s art (lithographs of Victorian porn and older) including the statuary and woodcuts of India, Japan, etc., but a no-no if just photos exploiting sex. By the time De Renzy treated the subject, hardcore was fine & dandy in the marketplace, but not here.

Axel is tasteful, perhaps overly so in retrospect, showing some simulated sex only in distant silhouetted fashion -very tame. By today’s standards the film’s content would be R-rated. Like De Renzy, he shows us in detail a porn shoot, in this case couples posed for still photography, including a rough s&m session. The narrator emphasizes that s&m is illegal in Denmark, but makes a convincing case for its existence, on libertarian grounds. Similarly, voyeurism is defended in a lengthy “peeping Tom” sequence, natch given the target audience!

For me the treat was Axel casting consistently impressive big-boobs actresses in the demo & cheesecake roles, a turn-on even though the footage is pretty tame. There is full frontal nudity briefly on display of both sexes but compared to other docs, Axel’s film is a class act.

Mon oncle Benjamin aka My uncle Benjamin (1969)

France, 1750. Benjamin Rathery is a young doctor whose reputation as a skirt chaser is as widely known as his generosity towards the poor folk of his town. He is in love with Manette, the innkeeper’s beautiful daughter. However, she has no intention of giving in to Benjamin until she sees the marriage contract, and he is strangely reluctant to give up his bachelor lifestyle…

Dirty Lily (1978)

Starring: Bethanna (as Beth Anna), C.J. Laing (as C.J. Lang), Marlene Willoughby (as Marlene Willoughy), Sharon Mitchell, David Ruby, Eric Edwards, Peter Andrews, R. Bolla (as Richard Bolla), Roger Caine (as Roger Cane)

When Lilly, called Dirty Lilly by her friends, got too big and too hot for her mother to handle she was thrown out into the world on her own. So, begins her search for Daddy, who left Mommy so many years ago. 1CLilly Delivers 1D promised the poster for this film 13 how true it was! The late Chuck Vincent was the master at combining sex with comedy and this film is no exception. Exotic-looking Bethanna stars as Lilly, a girl who is searching for her father, while eye candy includes the ever-gorgeous C.J. Laing, Marlene Willoughby, Bethanna and Sharon Mitchell. Her first stop is Daddy’s lawyer who has some quasi-legal regarding Lilly. Following some office fun, the lawyer sends Lilly to the set of a porno film where Daddy was seen last…The next scene is Lilly’s! Mistaken for the star, Lilly plays her part with gusto and is given the next clue to Daddy’s whereabouts by the director who steers her to Daddy’s mistress, Ginger. Ginger and Lilly romp together and after a series of exciting and adventure, including an interlude with a kinky muscleman. After her surprising journey, Lilly is surprised when she finally finds her Daddy.

A Little Bit of… Hanky Panky (1984)

Starring: Bunny Bleu, Ashly Britton, Ginger Lynn, Rene Tiffany, Lois Ayres, Jamie Gillis, Jerry Butler, Ron Jeremy, Jacy Allen, Deva, Crystal Holland.

The greatest sex game of them all! Two young, married couples are on a camping holiday on an island. Only Sylvia, one of the wives, knows the island’s secret. There are lots of surprises and plenty of pretty girls. Among other things there is a lovely menage-a-trois. Filmed entirely on location in the South Pacific.

More like a whole lot of hanky panky! This wild romp wastes no time at all in getting rolling, with Jerry Butler tailing Ginger Lynn on his motorcycle while she jogs. He ends up taking her on in a rough-edged scene that tears the lid off from the opening bell. We then travel to a gorgeous beach, where Ginger and her hubby Ron Jeremy are enjoying a campfire with friends Stacey Donovan and Jamie Gillis. The foursome are soon joined by a pair of luscious young beauties dolled up like Girl Scouts, lost and looking for their scout troop. The next morning the girls are gone, and Ron sets out to find where they disappeared to. He ends up in a private Sex Game Area run by the so-called Girl Scouts and a couple more sultry sirens. Before he knows what’s hit him, Ron is watching the four feisty femmes engage in a scorching Sapphic group grope. Back at the beach, Ron takes on Ginger in another searing scene. Jamie and Stacey follow suit, only to be joined by Ken Starbuck for a high octane threesome. Soon Ginger is leading them all on a freaky frolic in which everyone swaps partners and has a jolly old time. Stand-out performances from Ginger and a youthfully vivacious Bunny Bleu highlight this first-rate hardcore feature.

Like It Is (1968)

This documentary on the “youth movement” of the late 1960s focuses on the hippie pot smoking/free love culture in the San Francisco Bay area. Included are discussions of the drug scene with some of the kids themselves and, naturally, several examples of the hippie philosophy of peace, love and gratuitous nudity.

Romance X (1999)

excerpt from “Senses of Cinema” on Catherine Breillat:

“But it was with the release of Romance in 1999 that Breillat would face censorship internationally, when the film was either banned altogether in some countries, or given an X rating. It was a situation Breillat spoke out about when she declared that, “censorship was a male preoccupation, and that the X certificate was linked to the X chromosome.” Breillat’s statement was echoed in the French poster for the film, which features a naked woman with her hand between her legs. A large red X is printed across the image, thus revealing the source of the trouble: a woman in touch with her own sense of sexual pleasure.

Romance, and the world-wide discourse about pornography that erupted in the wake of its release, best typifies the challenge and the interest of her work. Romance is about a woman, Marie, whose boyfriend refuses to have sex with her. Her frustration leads her to a series of affairs in an effort to not only find pleasure, but seemingly to arrive at some better understanding of her own desire. The film is sexually explicit, and features, as do many of Breillat’s films, acts of unsimulated sex, hence the many accusations leveled against Breillat that she is a pornographer. Indeed, Breillat willfully courted such accusations by casting Rocco Siffredi, a famous Italian porn star, as one of Marie’s lovers. Moreover, Marie’s sexual encounters are marked by a sense of sadomasochism. Indeed, after having her baby she winds up with a man who is also the principal of the school where she teaches, having blown up her apartment and her boyfriend (who is also, presumably, the father of her child) on the way to the hospital.

Romance was banned in Australia upon its release in January 2000. In his review of the Office of Film and Literature’s (OFLC) report on the film, Adrian Martin describes the reason for the ban. And in so doing, Martin arrives at precisely the thing that makes Breillat’s films so difficult, and so interesting. Martin surveys the censors’ objection to the scene where Marie is solicited by a man in the hallway of her building. In this scene, a man offers Marie twenty-dollars to perform cunnilingus on her, to which she assents without saying a word. Of course, more occurs, as Marie is turned over (or turns over) as her perpetrator then enters her from behind. As he continues, Marie seems to sob, and when he leaves, she shouts that she is not ashamed. Martin notes that in describing the scene, the writer of the OFLC report says that “he orders Marie to turn over,” and that she tries to “scuffle away.” Martin replies, “…I did not see Marie try to ‘scuffle away’ during the scene, or be forced to turn over.” Martin’s point is that this writer’s language reveals his own moral response to an image, as opposed to what is actually present in the image: “One of the most interesting things about Romance is the way in which it inscribes in its own material ambiguous designation of obscenity.” In other words, neither Breillat nor Caroline Ducey (Marie) give us any concrete signs of her own response to what is happening. We cannot walk away confident of Marie’s outrage, only our own, at best. Indeed, the whole scene begins with a voice-over where Marie proclaims that it is, in fact, her fantasy to be taken this way. Yet, the act itself is inscribed into the realist space of the plot, thus blurring the line between fantasy and reality that is signaled by Marie’s voice-over.

As such, when we watch this act on screen, and many others like it, we are left only with what we think of what we see. Moreover, we project our own values back on to the screen, as Martin further notes when he cites a review of the film that describes the scene between Marie and Rocco Siffredi as a “humiliating affair.” Of course, there is, to my eyes, no signs of humiliation in that scene. If anything, it is a frank and very physical depiction of a sexual encounter. Siffredi asks Marie if he can have anal sex with her, an act that stands as the possible source of said humiliation. However, this possibility is complicated by the fact that she very calmly consents, on the condition that he first continue to make love to her. Moreover, the scene begins with Marie telling Siffredi, while holding a soiled condom, how men like to keep things hidden – how easily they are disgusted. The only sign of shame in the sequence comes when she admits to Siffredi, in the middle of sex, that she only sleeps with men that she doesn’t like. If there is shame here, it is the viewer’s.

Confessions (1977)

Housewife has a double life: while her husband is at work, she has sex with many men. Behind every great woman is a confession. The only way to know what beautiful Cindy Johnson wants in life is to see her latest film “Confessions Of A Woman” – where she shows you in intimate detail, her overpowering sexual needs, and to what lengths she’ll go to satisfy them.

This highly arousing adult motion picture probes the erotic secrets of a beautiful woman, giving her and the audience and eye-opening revelation into her lusty but hidden life. This is the only Karen Cluster video. Adult stars also making their debut in this video: Barbara Lovelynn, Sonny Lust, Ron Rodgers.