“You were beautiful, my dear; just the right mixture of innocence and passion. I can’t wait to see you fuck.”
Cross-dressing porno auteur Peter Bent (Steven St Croix) is quite the enigma; so much so, a sleazy celebrity rag sees fit to send an undercover reporter to the set of his latest movie. Unfortunately, and unbeknown to its foul-mouthed editor, said reporter, Alice (Jenna Jameson), is actually a huge fan of the director – as evidenced by the framed picture that stands beside her bed. Having won her hero’s favour by quoting lines from a previous movie, our intrepid reporter is not only invited to stay, she’s cast in the film itself . . .
Witty, well-executed and distinctly post-modern, Blue Movie is some distance from your typical adult feature. Director Michael Zen and cinematographer Jack Remy were veteran craftsmen by this point, and their skills are abundantly evident here. The portrayal of the film-making process affords ample opportunity to poke fun at the adult industry, with vacuous and vain performers receiving particular attention. Moreover, the mise en scene allows Zen to diverge from the traditional path of narrative story-telling and incorporate footage from two Peter Bent (sic) movies – the seemingly-prosaic Anal Snow Bunnies, and the work in progress, The Legend of The Golden Oyster – into the duration of the film. While such a conceit is not unprecedented, it does helps to keep things interesting, and if nothing else, provides the context for the films major sex scenes. Indeed, it’s noticeable that the carnal activity occurring outside of these confines is infrequent and extremely perfunctory. There are some attendant problems – for example, a couple of the cast are clearly out of their depth when trying to act as porn-stars trying to act – but the relative structural sophistication certainly contributes to the success of the whole.
Another interesting facet of the film is the recurrence – and casual acceptance – of shifting sexual preferences. In The Legend of The Golden Oyster, our protagonists are captured by a tribe of nymphomaniac lesbians – one of whom promptly fornicates with Dirk Steele (Tony Tedeschi) in spite of her supposed Sapphic tendencies. Of course, this is in the same spirit as a previous film-within-a-film sequence – which features a bikini-clad Tera Heart sun-bathing amid snow dunes – but sexual identities are in flux throughout Blue Movie. Our first sighting of the reclusive Peter Bent finds him on a psychiatrist’s couch, adorned with an outrageous pearl earring, discussing his fascination with feminity. In truth, he’s probably better described as a transvestite than a homosexual, but there’s obviously significance to his psychiatrist (Rebecca Lord) thrusting her nether-regions into his face and repeatedly proclaiming, ‘you’re heterosexual’, when he follows her instruction to perform cunnilingus. While Bent’s sexuality is open to debate, there’s no such ambiguity about the preferences of his ‘diesel dyke’ bodyguard, Magda (Jenna Fine). Nevertheless, with film in short supply and Steele unable to ‘pop’, circumstance dictates that the director and his custodian provide The Legend of The Golden Oyster with its literal climax. Suddenly the admiration Magda feels for Bent assumes an unexpected complexion, and the director is forced to test more than his artistic capabilities.
I can’t help but wonder what gay viewers would make of the ease with which characters shed their alleged homosexual tendencies but this is always going to be a difficult area for mainstream adult cinema to negotiate. There is, of course, a long tradition of ‘girl/girl’ activity in explicit and simulated cinema, but this has more to do with circumventing censorship and serving male fantasies, than it does actual lesbianism. With regards to male homosexuality, the target audience for heterosexual pornography renders the subject almost completely taboo; and in relative terms – especially in light of the playful tone of the whole – the ambivalent sexuality displayed herein seems almost enlightened.
Of course, Blue Movie’s most marketable asset isn’t technical, structural or thematic, but abundantly physical; the presence of a young Jenna Jameson guarantees a sizable audience, and she’s characteristically likable in the role of the naïve but accommodating reporter. In truth, most of the productions she graced during this period are quite routine – distinguished more by their marketing than anything else – but Blue Movie is a welcome exception to that rule. Incidentally, although top-billing is never in doubt, it’s no surprise that the best acting on view comes courtesy of Steven St Croix – whose portrayal of Peter Bent intermittently brings to mind Tim Curry’s performance in The Rocky Horror Picture Show – and Jenna Fine.
Blue Movie is an excellent example of the high-end, couples-friendly fare that was gathering pace in the mid-nineties. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a masterpiece, but it’s cleverly constructed, technically-accomplished and amusing throughout. When it’s dumb – by and large – it’s intentionally dumb, and that in itself differentiates it from most adult comedies. I’m sure the apparently-telepathic ball seen at the outset and conclusion of the film will bemuse many, but it’s not likely to diminish anyone’s enjoyment. Michael Zen was duly named the year’s best director by AVN magazine, and though Jenna Jameson would go on to bigger things, there’s little in her filmography that’s appreciably better.