The First Word: My pick for the number one adult film of all time! Although it's not perfect, VCA produces their best classic disc ever.
Plot Synopsis: Misty Beethoven (Constance Money) is an American girl who's working as a prostitute in Paris. She's discovered in a porn theater by Dr. Seymour Love (Jamie Gillis), an author, who's looking for an unknown girl to become the next Goldenrod Girl. Along with his publisher, Geraldine Rich (one hit wonder Jacqueline Beudant), he sets out to transform this awkward girl into the next international sex sensation. In order to become the Goldenrod Girl, Misty would have to make an impression on Goldenrod Magazine's playboy publisher, Lawrence Lehman (Ras Kean).
Sexually uneducated, Seymour begins Misty's education at his penthouse apartment in New York, using all means at his disposal, including films, demonstrations, and interaction with his servants. They then travel to Rome, where Seymour decides that Misty needs some real-world practice under her belt. So he sends her to the opera, where she pleasures a high-society gentleman in the bathroom. After this incident, her fame among the gossip circles increases.
But Seymore eyes a bigger challenge for Misty: seducing an "impotent man." He enlists an actress friend, Tanya (Terri Hall) to set the scenario up. Tanya records an audio tape of instructions for Misty to use while she makes her move on the man, who's obviously not straight, demonstrating the techniques on Geraldine and under the direction of Seymour. Later, following the audio instructions, Misty is able to seduce her target and make him cum.
However, there is one more milestone that Misty needs to complete before she is ready to face Lawrence Lehman: make three men cum simultaneously. Even though she's discouraged and fails often, she's finally able to make three of Seymore's servants climax at the same time. With that, her training is complete, and she attends one of Lawrence Lehman's lavish parties. There, she secures her place as the next Goldenrod Girl by screwing Lehman (literally) and his companion (Gloria Leonard).
But rather than tasting victory, Seymore ends up losing Misty when he gloats how he single- handedly turned her from a nobody into a star. When Misty disappears, Seymore realizes how much he misses her, and unsuccessfully tries to find her. But when he's just about given up hope of seeing her again, she returns to be with him--on her own terms.
What I liked: Erotic sex: Director Henry Paris was masterful at choreographing hot sex scenes. Whether it was the liberal use of extras engaged in sex in the background, casual sex during dialogue (such as maids constantly giving Jamie Gillis blowjobs while he was delivering serious dialogue), or only partially undressing the women during the sex scenes, he managed to craft a film that has stood the test of time in terms of its erotic appeal. Compared to today's videos, The Opening of Misty Beethoven isn't all that explicit, but is definitely erotic.
Realistic sex: Not only do the women in this film appear to be enjoying themselves, they often are the ones who are taking charge of the sex in scenes. In that way, it's a really liberating for being a porno. Also, rather than the traditional ending to scenes today, where the guy pulls out and then jerks off on the girl's face, three of the scenes end with the guy pulling out as he's climaxing, shooting a few spurts, and then re-inserting into the girl. In the case of the blistering finale between Constance Money and Jamie Gillis, Jamie lies with his cock inside her pussy until it softens and falls out--amazing! It's incredibly hot and realistic, and something you see very rarely today.
Daring scenes: Although porn wasn't nearly as categorized in 1975 as it is today, The Opening of Misty Beethoven turned a few heads with a few of the scenes. In the opening scene, Constance Money gives a handjob to a senior citizen in a Napoleon uniform. In one of the hottest scenes in the movie, Constance fucks a popular gay adult film star of the time, something unheard of then. Finally, in a scene that was cut from some VHS versions, Constance uses a strap-on to butt-fuck a guy. Even if it's not your kink, you have to admit that it's different!
Constance Money & Jacqueline Beudant: Clearly, while these two actresses had brief careers (Constance made only a handful of films, and this film was the only one that Jacqueline appeared in), they are definitely two of the most beautiful porn stars of the 1970s. Constance reminds me a lot of Dorothy Stratten and Jacqueline of a younger Lynn Redgrave. Both of them exude sexuality while still possessing a wholesome, innocent look.
Humor: It's not a comedy or a parody, but this film has quite a few little one liners and quick jokes. For example, as a hooker, Misty wears a T-shirt with American Express and MasterCharge logos. Or when an airline passenger smuggles "Jamaican cigars" in the stewardess' pussy. His wife says, "But it's not illegal to import Jamaican cigars into the States!" "Shhhh!!!!" :-) Even the music is used appropriately...one scene is timed to climax with the climax of "The William Tell Overture."
What I didn't like: Dated styles: While the sex is timeless, the 1970s clothing, sets, and hairstyles are not. I talk to a lot of people who don't like classic porn because the styles are so different from today. If you're one of these people, then you might not be able to get past the wide ties, afros, and untrimmed pussies. But that's the only major drawback of this excellent film.
DVD Extras: The notable extras included on this disc are the narrated Hall of Fame star gallery, a short video commentary by Jim Holliday, and an audio commentary with Jamie Gillis and Gloria Leonard. The Hall of Fame photo gallery features still photos of some of the most recognizable adult stars of all time. While the camera pans across the photos, porn historian Jim Holliday introduces the stars, giving a bit of trivia about each one. It's interesting, but Holliday's delivery is pretty bad...it's clear that he was reading from the narration copy. And, pet peeve, but it really hurts his credibility to include Jill Kelly in every HoF thing he does. IMHO, Jill Kelly is a top star, but to put her in the same company of Ginger Lynn or Marilyn Chambers is just wrong.
Holliday does a much better job in the short video clip where he comments on the movie--I definitely learned a few things. There's an awkward edit point in the middle of the interview, and Jim needs to lose his shades (trademark or not), but overall, it's an asset to the disc.
The audio commentary offers quite a bit of insight into the filming of The Opening of Misty Beethoven, as well as some tidbits about the people and industry at the time. Although Gillis and Leonard occasionally go off on tangents, talking about people that only Jim Holliday would remember, it's a pretty solid commentary. It's neat to hear about Jamie's crush on Constance Money (and how he slept with her sister) or how he got to keep the suits he wore in the movie (since he didn't own any suits of his own). Gloria's comments repeat some of the same observations and sentiments that she expressed in the commentaries for i-Candy's classic releases, but she still has a wealth of memories to share about this movie, her first major film.
Overall, it's not really the most well-put- together DVD release...it doesn't have the polished look that other VCA releases have. For example, the menu graphics are bland and simple with no animations, and the menu music is recycled from other DVDs (and doesn't match the time frame of this movie either). There's one noticeable misspelling on one of the menus ("prodution stills"). It's clearly the best VCA Classics release, but it doesn't really match up with the best DVD productions.
A/V Quality: Given that this film was shot in 1975 on 16mm film, the video quality isn't up to par with today's standards. However, it's about the same quality as DVDs of 1970s mainstream films, which I think is a great credit to both the quality of the original production and VCA's re-mastering. There's a noticeable amount of film scratches, but not to the point that it's distracting.
The audio, on the other hand, is a little below average. The dialogue track is somewhat disembodied, leading to a "dubbed feel" to the feature, which I remember from the VHS version. The dialogue also sounds very tinny, with a lot of reverberation. Again, I don't expect a great soundtrack from that era, but I don't remember the VHS version having that much reverb. As with the video, it's a little distracting, but doesn't take away from the film at all. Another audio area that could have been improved is the Gillis/Leonard audio commentary. The recording level of the commentary is quite low, forcing you to turn the volume way up to clearly hear Jamie and Gloria speak. As with many commentaries, the original soundtrack is included in the background of the commentary track. Unfortunately, the original track is too loud in relation to the commentary audio, which is a problem during dialogue scenes, when Year 2000 Jamie Gillis is talking at the same time 1975 Jamie Gillis is.
The Last Word: I'll have to agree with Jim Holliday in his overall assessment of The Opening of Misty Beethoven: it's not the hottest porn ever, nor the most well-written, nor the best production value, nor the most elegantly shot. The cast isn't made up entirely of beautiful people. However, there are very few adult films in the history of porn that have managed to do all of those things well (maybe not the best, but well)--and this is one of them. While people might argue that it's not the best adult film ever, it certainly one of the top five. I appreciate The Opening of Misty Beethoven for it's humor, realistic sex, eroticism, daring, and polished look. If you're wondering what the Golden Age of Porn was all about, this is the DVD to get. I'm also pleasantly surprised at the very good treatment this film received on DVD by VCA. Highly, highly recommended.
Themes: Classic porn, oral sex, penetration after climax, orgies, strap-on male anal sex, dirty talk, lesbian