Label: Cult Epics
Region: 0 (NTSC)
Released: March 30, 2004
Genre: Erotica / Adult
Synopsis: A collection of eclectic vintage French erotica.
Special Features: Erotic Photo Gallery with 48 images.
The third volume in Cult Epic’s French erotica series shows a marked boost in the use of montage, primitive optical effects, and some elaborately rendered main titles.
Perhaps the result of greater familiarity with film technique, the more comfortable use of editing and close-ups also show how filmmakers had started to eschew intertitles; maybe a sign of the bygone silent days, the brief cards often carried the wit and amusement of the filmmakers, and their disuse signaled the erotic film’s gradual transformation from narrative parodies and vignettes to more mechanical stag sessions.
Anno 1940 contains a balance of erotic and explicit shorts, and this time Cult Epics have chosen to use vintage 1940s jazz as underscore material, yielding not only a pretty cool jazz track (sans edits), but a tone Mons. Duke Ellington and Mons. Charlie Parker never figured into their fingering.
14 films are collected in this set: “The Two Roses” (5:01), “Hide & Seek Wrestling” (7:13), “Untitled” (2:18), “Untitled” (4:04), “The French Way” (6:26), “Playing Cards” (2:14), “Family Spirit” (14:08), “Mrs. And Her Maid” (5:41), “The Broken Vase” (1:56), “Mister Rang” (7:38), “Little Christmas Tale” (8:14), “A Clinic Gone Mad” (11:06), “Substitute” (8:38), and “The Flea” (3:12).
Unlike Anno 1930, this set reveals formulas that were subsequently adopted by American exploitation filmmakers when full frontal nudity and sexual frankness were still taboo at the commercial drive-in.
One of the untitled shorts has two naked women playing with a large ball; a work no different than the nudist films from the late 1950s and early 1960s. Mild fetishism appears in another untitled short – basically a burlesque piece between two women, using body painting as an excuse for plenty of hip-swinging and loopy hand-waving. “Playing Cards” tosses in a girl-girl wrestling session; and “The French Way” predates the Irving Klaw nudie-roughie shorts, with naughty shackling & whipping.
In “Substitute” a woman reads a book on how to overcome a hungry libido when there’s no one around to help, and the concluding short has a woman dreaming of erotic episodes while a peeping Tom watches through a keyhole.
The best of the bunch has a weak patient getting heady attention from two generous nurses (set to Charlie Parker solos); and a priapic Santa Claus grants the wishes of two dutiful ladies before he shows them a good time (underscored by Duke Ellington).
Also included on this DVD are vintage photos from the 1900s, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940. Like the films, the perception of female beauty had morphed somewhat.
Whereas the Anno 1930 DVD seemed to rely heavily on the use of friends, acquaintances, lovers, girlfriends, and erotic personalities of the day, the women in Anno 1940 are less zaftig and naturelle; hips narrowed a bit, and filmmakers were more conscious of creating their own idealized dream girl with models. Even the vignettes, which often carried a kind of prankish attitude, were now being replaced by a more defined erotica, standardizing fantasies for the next decade.
© 2004; revised 2017 Mark R. Hasan
Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review