The Opening of Misty Beethoven (Radley Metzger / U.S., 1976):

Dying is easy, comedy is hard, comedy in the midst of hardcore sex is harder. Radley Metzger is up to the challenge, introducing Constance Money, his feline star, under a smear of whore-paint to anticipate Pauline Kael's remark about Mia Farrow in Broadway Danny Rose ("a Harpo wig on a Venus statue"). Money is Misty (née Dolores) Beethoven, satisfying the raincoat brigade at the Quartier Pigalle; her latest patron arrives in Napoleon regalia, opts for a handjob and salutes the screen playing Pussy Talk. Pygmalion is the linchpin, Higgins here is a sex author (Jamie Gillis) who dubs the uncouth hooker "the nadir of passion" before agreeing to groom her into a classy "Golden Rod Girl" as part of a bet with Jacqueline Beaudant. The high-society bash is around the corner, so Money has tons of fucking ahead of her, every thrust set to the iambic pentameter of Metzger's soigné montage. "You shall make three men cum simultaneously," the Svengali declares plummily. "Why?" "It will give you confidence." The story jets from Paris to New York to Rome and beyond, muff-diving is what separates first-class from flying coach; the running gags are oral, literally, cocksmen and eager mouths are always available, the repartee at one point gets shushed after disturbing the blowjobbing taking place in the room. The heroine at last occasions the triple ejaculation, then quietly weeps, for Gillis, her true love, remembers Naughty Marietta but not My Fair Lady -- the stage is set for a disarmingly chintzy studio evocation of a hip glamour party, where hosts Ras Kean and Gloria Leonard welcome the delicately raunchy new swan into society, and into a ménage a trois. Metzger's lightness and quickness establish him as, if not a blue Lubitsch, then at least a porn Blake Edwards (10 acknowledged the bond, and returned the favor); the epicurean spirit is svelte and spacious (Money does some penetrating of her own, with Calvin Culver providing the shapely ass), "Some dig it, some don't," but Metzger remains urbanely open to the impromptu variations of desire. With Terri Hall.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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