Flesh (Paul Morrissey / U.S., 1968):

Somebody's gotta bring home the bacon, says Warhol, the New York hustler from dawn till dusk is his own meat product in a buoyant collection of nude studies. Joe Dallesandro's sleeping head on a striped pillow provides the still-life overture ("Makin' Wicky Wacky Down in Waikiki" plays in its entirety) before the first cut gives the full Adonis sprawled, half Delacroix sketch and half laundry pile. Getting up for work is a grumpy-languid-sexy ritual with the wife (Geraldine Smith), nasally nagging mixed with rubbing kisses and requests for clean underwear, an essential part of the gigolo's uniform. (Bulging jeans, scarlet bandana and crucifix pendant comprise the rest.) "Body-worship is the thing behind all art," thus Olympic poses for the elderly aesthete (Maurice Braddell) and roughhousing with the gym vet (Louis Waldon), who pauses mid-conversation to tenderly pop a zit on the hunk's cheek. Candy Darling and Jackie Curtis at a beauty salon cooing over classic Hollywood magazines preside like a pair of deadpan duchesses, the camera pans from them to Little Joe getting head from the go-go dancer (Geri Miller). "You know, the Greeks invented a word just for that..." Nothing beats Paul Morrissey shooting in 16mm for frankness and freshness, urban messiness under his gaze is a matter of style—compositions zoom in and out of focus to highlight a mile-long eyelash or an erect nipple, edits flash with a loud pop, it's all part of his human comedy. (The refusal of prurience or malice in his snapshots easily outclasses the gaudy scorn of Midnight Cowboy.) Living from trick to trick, the sweetly dim protagonist floats through the ad-libbed blur of desire and alienation and comes home to a crowded bed. Back in domestic sheets, he contemplates his missus intertwined with a cutie (Patti D'Arbanville) and, perhaps, the melancholia at the heart of Morrissey's droll gutter. "How do you like that story? Did you think it was too dirty?" "Naaah..."

--- Fernando F. Croce

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