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Back Row, The

Back Row, The

Studio: Channel 1 Releasing
Category:  Gay
Directed by:
Starring: , , , , , , , , ,
Released on: 
Where to buy:DVD NewStreaming/Download
Joe Shaver's ratings for Back Row, The:
Overall Rating 4.5 stars
Back Row, The overall rating 4.5 stars
Female Looks Back Row, The Female looks rating 0 stars
Male Looks Back Row, The Male looks rating 4 stars
Sex Back Row, The Sex rating 4 stars
Plot/Acting Back Row, The Plot/Acting rating 5 stars
Extras Back Row, The DVD Extras rating 5 stars
Audio/Video Quality Back Row, The A/V Quality rating 5 stars
Rating Scale
Reviewed by Joe Shaver  on  11/30/2002
If you want to see how gay porn has changed in the last 30 years pick up a copy of THE BACK ROW that contains Jerry Douglas’ original of 1972 and Chi Chi LaRue’s of 2002. It’s not just that one is bareback the other uses condoms, the whole focus has changed. Douglas was making a story film with sex; LaRue was making a sex film with a story.

The plot of both is as follows:
A gay man wanders into one of the numerous porn theatres in NYC. Behind him a man and a sailor have sex. Afterward the civilian offers the gay man a popper; he refuses and leaves the theatre. Entering the Port Authority Bus Terminal, he spies a handsome young cowboy just in from Montana. They exchanged hot glances and the cowboy follows the man onto the subway to the Christopher Street/Sheridan Square stop. Our hero is stringing the cowboy along like an expert fisherman who has hooked a big one and is enjoying the contest. He goes into a porn emporium and examines some of the things on display. When he picks up a penis pump, the cowboy imagines him naked and using it. It is the same with other things in the store. When our hero settles on a cock ring, the cowboy buys one too. Our hero next leads the cowboy into another porn theater as they watch the film each imagines they are the participants in the film. After our hero has had sex with several guys in the theater—including a wild threesome in the men’s room, he finally gives the shy and patient cowboy the OK and the cowboy seems to be in bliss. We, however, know the hero to be a slut and know it will not be happily ever after. Our sympathy in both is with the cowboy as we have probably been in his position at least once in our lives. It hurts to be made a fool of.

Douglas used Casey Donovan as his naughty leading man while LaRue uses Kyle Kennedy. Casey Donovan became the first gay porn superstar following his appearance in the history-making BOYS IN THE SAND. Kennedy, of course, doesn’t have the legendary status of Donovan but he has a mischievous boyish charm that makes him more likeable and the cowboy’s infatuation more plausible. Douglas’ cowboy was George Payne while LaRue’s is Ryan Zane. In both films the cowboy is so much more desirable than the lead it is difficult to understand anyone not snatching him up at once. As a result we think the hero more of a fool than the naive mid-westerner.

There is no doubt that Larue’s is the better film for today’s audiences. The cinematography, the sexual performances, and the editing are far superior to the original. For example, when the cowboy imagines the hero naked in LaRue’s film the camera dwells enjoyably on the nude body. In the Douglas version the nudity flashes on and off like a strobe light. The music in the original is awful; that in the new version excellent. Larue has enhanced the sex also by adding to it. There is a third performer in his first theater sequence who drops a load on the sailor, while Ethan Richards as the sailor does a straight upward cum shot like a geyser at Yellowstone, and the toilet threesome later in the film becomes a toilet foursome that includes the incredible cock of Chad Hunt and some cum eating

Of course when Douglas made his version he was a young pioneering filmmaker. There just weren’t many gay films of the quality he was striving to produce. LaRue in making his was a seasoned professional with probably more films to his credit that any other director and had also seen a lot of them. Taking that into consideration, Douglas’ is the far greater achievement. Douglas is, of course, one of the best directors--as films like KISS-OFF, HONORABLE DISCHARGE, FAMILY VALUES, and FLESH AND BLOOD can attest. While his THE DREAM TEAM has to be on everyone’s list of the ten best ever.

Both films feature a director's commentary that enable us to watch the films with or without the commentary. I'm sure you will want to watch the film first without and then with. It's a great extra!

This DVD gives us an opportunity to see gay porn then and now. Write the cost off as part of your education.

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