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January 9, 2014

Interracial Sex Havoc - Part 1: 1966 - 1971

Interracial Sex Havoc Part 1: 1966 - 1971
A selection of film reviews by Christos Mouroukis.

The term “Ethnic” pornography is more accurate, but nobody’s using it, so we’ll have to stick with the “Interracial” one. Both are used to describe the filming of sexual intercourse between humans of different racial backgrounds.

Surely, we live in an era with loads of material for us to watch and discuss, but this selection of film reviews will introduce you to the earliest films featuring the subject that I could get my hands on, starting from ’66 and wrapping on ‘71.

None of the films included here are pornographic; they only had to have at least one interracial sex scene to qualify. The second chapter will include films from the golden age of porn and more from the blaxploitation front.

The Black Klansman (1966)
As you may have expected, this film is a talk-fest (no wonder it was made for only $55.000), until a KKK member burns a black girl alive. After this incident, and because he doesn’t get any help from the police (in a later scene we’ll learn that they’re racists too), the girl’s father [Richard Gilden from The Corpse Grinders (1971)] is seeking revenge alone. His light skin colour and a wig help him pass for white and after collecting some information he joins the local Klan in order to find the murderer.
Most characters in this one are motivated by hatred (even the sympathetic protagonist attacks his white girlfriend) and the Klan members attack interracial couples.
Ted V. Mikels directed the masterpiece Strike Me Deadly (1963) before jumping on more sensational stuff such as Dr. Sex (1964) and One Shocking Moment (1965). He then made this Klansman film which may be interpreted as either exploitation (or blaxploitation for that matter) or be taken (politically) seriously by books such as Film Alchemy: the Independent Cinema of Ted V. Mikels by Christopher Wayne Curry (it is an excellent read, and you should buy it).
No matter how you analyze this flick, two things are certain: the opening credits’ song (by Tony Harris) is awesome, and so is the ending.

The Great Silence (1968)
Klaus Kinski is Loco, a racist, violent, murderer, who makes his living as a bounty hunter. His troubles will begin when a silent stranger [Jean-LouisTrintignant] will enter the picture.

This is not as good as spaghetti western aficionados have told you, but the excellent music and some scenes of cruelty should make this an interesting entry for you, even though any implications of interracial love are pretty tame.

100 Rifles (1969)
After the excellent opening titles, we learn that Yaqui Joe Herrera [Burt Reynolds] is wanted. The film’s only interracial scene is passionate and hot (even though a bit too short) and happens between the male [Jim Brown] from Mars Attacks! (1996)] and female [Raquel Welch, whose character is strong and well developed and uses her sexuality to torment her enemies] leads.

Other than that, this is boring stuff and quite lengthy (it’s almost two hours long). Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like westerns. On the contrary, I love them. But I think I’ve watched way too many of them for my own good.

The action scenes are well done, and you’ll find some inspired shots here and there [this was directed by Tom Gries, who also gave us the awesome Helter Skelter (1976)], and a little bit of welcome nudity.

The Notorious Cleopatra (1970)
The film opens excellently with a slave auction (featuring some nudity) and then revolves around the title’s character [Loray White] and the various erotic adventures she provokes, among them one with fat Caesar [Jay Edwards].

Caesar is falling down all the time and that’s supposed to be funny, but it sadly is not (yes, the humour is second rate). What is funny though is one intercourse scene he has with (nymphomaniac) Cleopatra (who is hilarious when dancing) during which he’s eating food like there’s no tomorrow.

This doesn’t have much of a story; it’s just a collection of stimulated sex scenes played against porn-standard decorations and costumes (the whole movie was shot in interiors only).

The interracial scenes are plenty (including a lesbian one, and a couple of orgies – one of them during a funny ceremony) and surprisingly the cinematography [by Dwayne Avery] is superb, but unfortunately director Peter Perry’s [The Notorious Daughter of Fanny Hill (1966)] end result is not very good, mainly because it doesn’t know what genre it wants to be.

The Landlord (1970)
The title’s white character [Beau Bridges] is rich and in his late 20s and still lives at home with his mum (completely unsympathetic for a protagonist). He decides to buy a building in a black neighborhood, where he will soon fall in love with a half-Irish woman whom he thinks is white at first.

If you like your interracial relationship research to dig into arty places this is a good film to start from. It is pretentious and it tries (desperately and unsuccessfully) to be French.

The protagonist is at first not welcome by his building’s tenants, who don’t pay the rent, hold him at a gunpoint a couple of times, and blackmail him (well, one of their kids does). But, believe it or not, the white folks that surround him are even more racist.

This too lengthy for its own good talk-fest is a boring drama which’s story arc leads to nowhere. The interracial sex scene of interest is pretty romantic though.

Watermelon Man (1970)
The title’s character is white and then overnight becomes black and has to go through a lot. All is played for laughs, but it’s not funny. The attempt for social commentary is pretentious to say the least.

We get to watch scene after scene that add nothing to the story, and the whole thing looks like a bad TV show. Also, the titles intermission is silly.

Possibly the worst film on this list, it contains an implied interracial sex scene that happens outside the protagonist’s marriage. The excellent soundtrack is a bit redeeming [it was composed by Melvin Van Peebles, who also directed].

Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971)
“This film is dedicated to all brothers and sisters who had enough of the man”. With a phrase like this before the opening credits, you expect to be in for a treat. And indeed, the film is an anti-authoritarian epic which has its heart in the right place.

The title’s character [Melvin Van Peebles, who also wrote, produced, scored, edited and directed the picture] is a sex performer on the run from the police. The cops can’t find him easy, so they torture other black people in the process of the “investigation”. The whole thing can be read as the downfall of a sex worker.

Most of the white men here are torturers and we get to witness some police brutality which is fairly dealt with the burning of one patrol car.

On the sleaze front we get to see card playing & money betting, loads of nudity (full frontal stuff), and within the first minutes of the film a stimulated sexual intercourse between a woman and an underage boy (apparently the director’s son). Also, the finale’s dead dog sequence is shocking.

On the weirdness front we get to see a Bride of Frankenstein (1935) reference (via a haircut – blink and you’ll miss it) and even a scene in which a black man wipes with his ass the shoes of a white man (I don’t make this up).

There are many reasons to mark this as pure exploitation (it was after all the first successful blaxploitation film – there was clearly a market there that somebody saw it), but there are as many reasons to celebrate it as a time-capsule of an era during which the community mattered, that is now replaced by the class war.

It is badly photographed [by Robert Maxwell who also shot Girl in Gold Boots (1968)] and the editing is a mess (which works as part of the charm for some – go figure!). I personally don’t like it much as a whole, because it is boring at places and therefore difficult to follow. All interracial scenes of interest are between black men and white women.

“Leave! Split! Leave motherfucker!”

The Omega Man (1971)
Based on Richard Matheson’s “I Am Legend” novel, the story is well known and revolves around Neville [Charlton Heston] who’s the last human survivor on earth, and has to deal with monsters that resemble monks on psychedelic drugs (those were the ‘70s after all). He will soon find a few more people, among them a black woman [Rosalind Cash] with whom he will have the only interracial sex scene of the film [which comes along with some welcome nudity].

Boris Sagal’s film is built on flashbacks, and the only thing that stands out is the excellent costume designs. I’d rather watch The Last Man on Earth (1964) with Vincent Price, again and again.

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