Behind the Green Door (Artie & Jim Mitchell / U.S., 1972):

Porn as rite and performance, moist and sacramental, a reverie recounted at a diner in exchange for a warm cup of coffee. Tag-team strip-joint scrabblers, Artie and Jim Mitchell are also stark students of Rivette, their willowy muse (Marilyn Chambers) is glimpsed early on contemplating her loneliness, plain and bundled-up in a wintry, vacant patio. Then comes the rabbit hole: she’s suddenly scooped up and ends up as the night’s main attraction at an underground sex club. A disembodied voice introduces the spectacle for the masked onlookers ("Ladies and gentlemen, you are about to witness the ravishment of a woman who has been abducted... A woman whose fear has mellowed into expectation"), the musique concrète of moans and murmurs follows. A lithe, tawny, glazed mannequin, Chambers is the tantalizing tabula rasa thawed by a gaggle of fondling, licking, black-robed priestesses, a sliver of flesh vibrating on the darkened stage. Enter Johnny Keyes -- terse, painted, engorged -- for the second stage, an incantation/exploitation of the African-stud trope that envisions their simultaneous orgasms as a jazz crescendo. Finally, the trapeze act of the kinky circus, with the heroine busying herself with a quartet of sexual acrobats while the inflamed audience breaks into writhing daisy-chains of bodies of various genders, races and shapes. The Cezanne orgy segues into the Pollock splooge, a slow-mo set-piece in which cum shots are overlapped, solarized, psychedelicized, and essentially visualized as the anatomical abstractions that they are: The Mitchells inanely showing off cinematic toys, and yet a fitting expressionistic climax for a work so steeped in the aestheticization of Eros. The tale told, there’s nothing left for the trucker to do but drive back into the night, his fantasies projected onto the windshield (cf. Akerman’s Je Tu Il Elle). The high-toned San Francisco trance to Deep Throat's lowbrow Times Square yodel, and a dream state so evocative it was up to Kubrick nearly three decades later to give it a name: "Fidelio." With George S. McDonald, Elizabeth Knowles, Yank Levine, Bunny Brody, Lisa Grant, Cindy Taylor, Tyler Reynolds, Ben Davidson, and Toni Attell.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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