Monday, 9 April 2012

Her Private Hell

You can get a bit fed up with the unrelenting shoddiness of most British softcore films, so it's a real pleasure to watch 'Her Private Hell' and realise that smut and style can quite happily co-exist with the right director and a little bit of effort. The man in charge here is Norman J Warren, straight off a couple of arty, jazz inflected short films, and on his way to the accolade of being the connoiseurs horror auteur of choice. This film is smartly photographed, nicely designed, cleverly put together, most of the performances are good and the music is pleasingly groovy throughout. It's a little triumph and has an important footnote in history: it was the first sex film to ever be passed by the censor for general release in the UK.

Lucia Modugno plays Marisa, a nice but slightly simple and far too old Italian model flown over to swinging London to become the next big thing. She passes inspection by a shadowy agency and, at first, enjoys la dolce vita - everyone makes a fuss of her and she lives in a rent free remote controlled pop art pad with a photographer called Bernie who is obviously supposed to be a catch but is rather effete and sweaty. All she has to do is to pose for photographs, occasionally in the altogether.

The X Factor in five years time

'Light goes up - light goes down - light goes up...'

'A couple of crotch shots and we're done'

Things start to go wrong when Marisa realises that she's little more than a commodity - they work her like a pretty dog and she never sees a penny. She tries to talk to sweaty Bernie about it, but he's only interested in her for work and sex, and tells her to shut up and stop rocking the boat. Feeling angry, she hooks up with his assistant, a younger, trendier, better photographer called Matt who says he wants to invent 'a new type of photography' which apparently involves Marisa getting her kit off again. 

Marisa and Matt cut a rug

Moody semi-nudey

One of many dimpled bottoms nearly on display

Sweaty Bernie turns Flasher

When Marisa wants to get away, she soon realises that the shadowy Agency have no intention of letting her go - she's worth too much to them, not because of her high fashion pics, which are a 'bonus', but because of the nude stuff, which is fetching big money on that most awful and dirty of places, 'The Continent'. The bastards.

'I zink zis is - 'ow you say - a kick in ze teeth' 
In case you were wondering, there's virtually no nudity in the film, and very little sex beyond the implied. Yet, because of its frank approach to its subject matter and because it was exhibited at the sort of cinemas that normally showed porn films (exhibited very successfully, too - it ran for over a year in London) it's quite clearly a smutter, albeit a very superior one. Hurrah!

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