There's a rumor that Stanley Kubrick once considered making a big budget pornographic film just to show people how it should be done. I'm not sure it would have worked. Hard-core pornography has a way of moving beyond eroticism and into images of clinical detail. I've always found soft-core movies more erotic.
But it would be interesting to see how a really great director would handle the subject. The most erotic films I've seen have been more suggestive than explicit, and a short list might include Ingmar Bergman's "The Silence," certain passages from Fellini, Eric Rohmer's "Chloe in the Afternoon" and a Chicago Film Festival winner, Vera Chytilova's "The Fruit of Paradise."
The only hard-core film I've seen that was effectively erotic was "The Devil in Miss Jones" -- and it was erotic not because of its hard-core content but in spite of it. It worked because its star, Georgina Spevlin, was so able to project emotion, involvement, and abandon. Now comes a porno movie said to be even better, "Behind the Green Door." It isn't.
It doesn't work even though it has high-quality camera work, imaginative use of music and visual effects, and Marilyn Chambers. She is the most beautiful porno actress yet. (You may find her smiling out at you from the front of our Ivory Snow box.) And there's no denying that in the movie's trapeze scene she qualifies as the busiest actress in porno history.
But the movie doesn't succeed in overcoming its explicit sexual content. It gives us too many close-ups without context; too many joyless couplings without dramatic meaning. The genius of "The Devil in Miss Jones" was that the title character had a fictional reality and motivation that made the sex scenes credible.
As for the scenes in "Behind the Green Door," the least you can say of them, I suppose, is that they're incredible. The plot (if I may misuse the word) involves a series of fantasies in which Miss Chambers is forced to undergo public humiliation at an orgy attended by various freaks. She puts up a token resistance for about seven seconds, after which we get an hour of surrender. Who knows? It might have been more interesting if she had resisted.
Pretty as she is, Miss Chambers gives no clue in the movie as to whether she can act. She doesn't have a single line of dialog, although in the heavy breathing department she puts in the best sound effects since "Therese and Isabelle." But the scenes don't build, and the explicit close-ups are constantly interrupting the editing rhythm. If only once a dirty movie would forget about proving how dirty it was and try to exist on a human level. But maybe that's a job for Kubrick.
- by "The Countess"
Behind The Green Door DVD is one of the classic porn films that I have not seen - until now. I've seen many of the classics including "Deep Throat" and "Debbie Does Dallas" but Behind The Green Door somehow made it past my radar.
The star of Behind The Green Door is Marilyn Chambers, who also was known as the Ivory Snow Girl. Her wholesome image on the Ivory Snow box (shown below) definitely squicked out the company when the porn movie came out at about the same time the ad campaign started.
Once Behind The Green Door was released, Ivory pulled the soap boxes from stores because Chambers' face was on them. The cognitive dissonance between Chambers being sucked and groped by a group of women preparing her for the first man to enter the scene and the sweet innocence of her image on the Ivory Snow boxes was a little too much for the company to take. Chambers said in an interview that she is convinced the only reason became Behind The Green Door became so infamous and made so much money was because she appeared on the Ivory Snow box. The movie was released the same week the Ivory Snow box hit the shelves. Chambers was right in saying you can't buy that kind of publicity. The juxtaposition was too enticing to resist.
Classic porn movies had plots, or at the very least had some sort of purpose and story line. The story of Behind The Green Door was of a kidnapping of a young woman (Chambers) to prep her for her ultimate sexual experience in a private club for men and women that existed behind a green door, hence the title of the movie. The first thing that struck me about the movie was how quiet it was. There was no cheesy boom-chica-boom-boom soundtrack. The only sound I heard was the sucking and soft moans coming from the people on the stage and the people watching in the audience. Chambers herself seemed to be a bit detached from it all, and in that interview she admitted she was high on pot for most of the filming. Drug use is a big problem in porn, as is drinking. Chambers eventually joined AA and cleaned up her act, but she didn't have the drug and alcohol problems that killed many classic porn stars. She said smoking pot was the only way she could get through filming. That was a very telling thing for her to say. Apparently, it was her first porn movie and she was only eighteen.
When she auditioned for Behind The Green Door she didn't know it was a porn film and when asked she initially didn't want to film nude. When the Mitchell brothers explained the story behind the movie she became intrigued and signed on. She regretted that modern porn has no story. The reason could be that in the earlier, more talkative porn movies people would fast-forward to the sex scenes and get off on them. So, modern porn is all sex, no plot, no story, and not much talking.
Behind The Green Door starts out with Chambers being kidnapped and spirited off to a private, elite sex club where she is prepped by women for her first appearance in front of the audience. I read that Chuck Traynor (Chambers' husband, Linda Lovelace's ex, and their producer) liked voyeurism so it's only natural that watching a young woman be ravaged by groups of people would be the subject of one of his films. Chambers is brought out in front of the audience and a group of about a half dozen women stroke and suck on her, working slowly to sexually arouse her so that she's ready for penetration by the man who enters the scene quite a long time into the movie (boxer Johnny Keyes). This may be the first inter-racial scene in porn since Keyes is black and Chambers is white. There is no music until Keyes enters and then a jazz soundtrack starts. Otherwise, all I heard were the sounds of people stroking and sucking. It's actually quite hypnotic to watch. The crowd looks on but no one does anything until later.
Then, after Chambers has her climax (which looked fake to me - her orgasm must have lasted all but ten seconds), it's her turn to do the servicing. She jerks off two men sitting in sex swings and sucks off another man in front of her. By now the audience members are quietly feeling up each other and themselves, and there is some group sex. No one approaches the stage. Chambers' role is to be viewed as she is being ravished.
The famous seven minute come shot looked like an LSD trip. It's done in slow motion with jizz spurting from a cock to fall all about Chambers. Not much of it lands on her face. The background colours looked like a Peter Max print, keeping in mind this movie came out in 1972. It was totally tripped out psychedelic and also hypnotic to watch.
What I liked about the movie was that everyone looked real. There wasn't the polished, silicone, waxed slickness of modern porn. There were fat and thin people, hairy and bald, young, old, and middle-aged. Chambers herself is on the small side, slim with small breasts. She has a girl-next-door look about her that is very appealing and obviously that quality was important to Behind The Green Door. There was also plenty of pubic hair - something you don't see in modern porn. Since I grew up with the classics, I prefer seeing a bush of pubic hair to the waxed and shaved look. It looks more natural to me.
This was also my first time trying Video On Demand (VOD) and it was very enjoyable. I liked watching the movie on my computer. The controls were easy to use and the movie watching experience was easy and enjoyable. If you've never tried VOD before I highly recommend it. Store your movies on their own separate drive so you have plenty of disc space to hold them. Behind The Green Door was only one movie available on VOD. I found "Debbie Does Dallas" and "The Autobiography Of A Flea", two more classics I'm looking forward to seeing in the near future. There are lots of different kinds of movies available that you can access at the click of a finger. It's that easy.
It's been a real treat for me to review classic porn. I'll likely review some more in the near future.