Sunday, September 15, 2013

Oddball Celluloid Sex

I can't stop writing on this blog.  I've been writing and writing and writing and by my count, I'm still 13 films from being caught up on this blog.

On August 16, I went to Oddball Films for the second time to see a program titled Celluloid Sex.

Among the highlights were:

Getting His Goat; silent with intertitles; (1923)
Lovemaking; directed by Scott Bartleet; (1970)
The Game; directed by George Kaczender; (1966)
Buried Treasure; animated; (1928)

I believe the programmer for the evening was Kat Shuchter.  The "official" program started late as there were a series of films screening as I entered.  The projectionist (whom I assume was Ms. Shuchter) had two projectors rolling at the same time.  One image was a nude or scantily clad woman while the other film image was a nude man, frequently exercising.  The images of the two people frequently overlapped and created interesting juxtapositions.  The films featuring the women mostly looked like strippers or burlesque dancers performing.  The films featuring the men appeared to be exercise videos.  Rather than attempting to titillate the audience like say Chippendales dancers, these young men seemed to be doing a normal calisthenics exercises...except they were nude.  Jumping jacks seemed to be the exercise of choice for the men.  I thought the dual images were fascinating; especially when the overlap of images was almost exact.  It seemed like the directors of the films had placed their cameras at the same height and distance from the subjects.

Buried Treasure is part of the vintage erotica compilation film The Good Old Naughty Days which screened annually at the Red Vic.  Buried Treasure is an animated cartoon starring Eveready Harton, a prodigiously endowed man who apparently suffers from priapism & satyriasis.  Oddball only screened a short clip but I saw the entire short film at the Red Vic.  Popeye animator Max Fleischer was rumored to have worked on the film.  The film was rumored to have been commissioned for a party honoring Winsor McCay.  By coincidence (or perhaps by design on the part of the programmer), there was a Winsor McCay presentation at this year's San Francisco Silent Film Festival.  Unfortunately, I missed that program.

Getting His Goat was purported to star Creighton Hale who appeared in D.W. Griffith's Way Down East but that claim is in dispute.  Regardless, the film is interesting for the way pornography was approached in the 1923.  In Getting His Goat, a young man comes upon three women swimming nude in the ocean.  He takes their clothes and agrees to return their clothing if they agree to have sex with him.  They agree to the act but only if the sex occurs through a hole in a tall wooden fence.  Never trust a glory hole.  As the protagonist protrudes himself through the hole (which is conveniently located at waist level), he unknowingly couples with not one of the women but rather a goat which the women have procured.  I guess the goat didn't make any noise because after the man climaxes, he proclaims it was the best sex he had ever had.  The obvious comparison is to Edward Albee's The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia, but Albee's play (which I saw at an ACT production in 2005) was a serious drama whereas Getting His Goat is clearly a comedy.  In today's world, I doubt there is such a thing as a pornographic comedy.

Lovemaking consisted of an extreme close-up of two people having sex.  I believe it was a man and a woman but it was difficult to make out which body parts were being shown or exactly what act was being performed.  The film reminded me of biology when we would increase the power of magnification on the microscope and the image would completely change going from the original to something unrecognizable.

The Game had a plot, dialog and everyone kept their clothes on so it stuck out like a sore thumb from the rest of the evening's program.  An 11th grade boy with a reputation as a ladies man bets his friends that he can score with the class virgin.  He goes with the soft sell to charm the girl who is initially hesitant.  He eventually breaks down her defenses but his conscience gets the better of him and he cannot bring himself to deflower the girl.  He reacts with depression and frustration towards his family and friends.  I thought it was a little overwrought for what it was but then by 2013 standards, it was kind of quaint the way teenagers interacted in 1966; at least the way it was portrayed in The Game.

There were a string of television commercials which were very amusing too.  I cannot recall them all except one for a detachable shower head which all but stated it's primary purpose was for women to masturbate with in the shower.

Overall, it was another enjoyable evening at Oddball.  I wish I could make time to see more of their programs.

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