Video*X*Pix, the company that released the definitive DVD of Inside Annie Sprinkle last year, has returned with what can only be considered the definitive DVD of the Amero Brothers' Blonde Ambition, an astonishing porno musical that was originally released in the U.S. in 1981.
I saw it originally at a Detroit area porno palace after reading an extremely positive Hustler review. The mag had given the film its FULLY ERECT rating. In retrospect, I'm not so sure it deserved Hustler's highest accolade, which would usually be an indicator of a film's heat, but it did deserve high marks for its mind-boggling production values (for a porno pic) and filmmaking ambition.
Co-Director John Amero, who supplies a great commentary, cites Gentleman Prefer Blondes as an influence. The film was marketed to those who enjoyed that film AND Deep Throat. Quite a broad audience.
Only a handful of porno feature films have attempted what Blonde Ambition attempted. Bill Osco's Alice in Wonderland (whose DVD I worked on a couple of years ago) shared the Ameros' lofty goals, as did the watershed Opening of Misty Beethoven, Radley Metzger's carnal opus.
As wack material, Blonde Ambition isn't terribly erotic. The sex scenes are standard, though well shot, and the heat between the performers is negligible. The recently deceased Jamie Gillis makes an appearance as the director of a Gone With The Wind porno parody, but he doesn't participate in any sex scenes. According to his commentary, which is well worth a listen, he did spend some quality time beneath the hoop skirts of several actresses between takes.
Despite my reservations about its sex appeal, Blonde Ambition is well worth owning because it's an amazing relic of a time now lost. The film was shot by the notorious Roberta Findlay, whose own porno directing career was many degrees darker than what's on screen here. Director Amero even mentions that Findlay found it difficult working on a porno film where the sex was well lit and the overall tone was bright and fun. Her own porno flicks were dark, dismal excursions into sexual hell (bless her soul!), and couldn't have been more different than this.
R. Bolla, a porno stalwart now better known for his role in Ruggero Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust, has a considerable role in the film and receives a complimentary blow job, as does porno veteran Eric Edwards, an actor who'd appeared in other Amero flicks. Both men had off-Broadway credits prior to the making of this film.
Of special note here is cute Benny Hill Show actress Suzy Mandel, who appears in various hardcore sequences.
Thanks to John Amero's clever cutting of her scenes, her non-participation in the film's actual hardcore comes as a surprise. Contractually, she was not obliged to perform hardcore. Amero, on the other hand, was free to blend footage of her porno double as he saw fit.
There are interesting bits and pieces to look out for here. The name on top of a sign for Miracle Pictures, 'Ben Dover', refers to a character who makes a brief appearance. I can't help speculate that British porno director Ben Dover was inspired by this film when it played (in R-rated form) at London's Prince Charles Theatre near Leicester Square. The film was financed by a Swedish exhibitor of blue movies, Kjell Nilsson, for the paltry sum of $30K. It looks like half a million at least, and that's acknowledging favors extended to the production. Thankfully, it made its money back quickly, and was sold worldwide in three different versions.
Video*X*Pix's treatment of the film is a loving one. Although the commentaries are excellent, I wish they'd been recorded and mixed with more love. The British interviewer of John Amero (who sounds a lot like Severin Films' David Gregory, though it might not be) is difficult to hear at times, although he should be applauded for asking all the right questions. Ironically, the sound level on Amero is much too high. The Jamie Gillis "tribute" on the set's second disk is a compilation of scenes featuring Jamie from films such as William Lustig's Violation of Claudia and Chuck Vincent's Roommates.
A small booklet of liner notes and history of the production is also included, as is a film strip of frames from the movie.
Overall, this is an excellent package, and a fine celebration of talented filmmakers, real filmmakers, who cared about the genre they were working in.
It's a testament to their ambitions that Blonde Ambition has earned such prestige treatment thirty years after it was shot.