This is a two-disc release of three of Wakefield Poole's pioneering feature films from 1971 to 1986, plus several of his short films of the era, a long interview, and other extras.
For me, this had great value as an historical artifact, partly because I can remember this time period. I was 12 in 1969, when Poole began filming. I lived an hour from San Francisco, and went there regularly, picking up copies of the Berkeley Barb and soaking up the ambience. Our junior high buried a time capsule in 1970, to be opened in the year 2000. We dropped into the capsule a pair of bellbottoms and a Jacksons album, among other things. I was born a moment too late to be on the cusp of many of the changes that took place, but I observed them anyway.
I had always heard that Deep Throat was the first feature length hard-core movie. Imagine my surprise to find that Poole's first two movies preceded Deep Throat! It must be due to someone's definition of 'feature length.'
The first movie, Boys in the Sand, captures a lot of the idealism and optimism of the era. Along with Poole's second movie, Bijou, it's a little nugget of what was avant garde, what was being stirred up, and what was being shaken.
In the interview on the second disc, Poole mentions that his original motivation to film porn derived from an experience he'd had going to a porn theater with friends, and seeing a movie in which a hitchhiker is threatened with a knife and forced to have sex. "Why can't somebody make a pretty movie -- I mean, and one that's not -- you don't cringe, or you don't have to force somebody to do something." He wanted to make a movie that he could be proud to put his own name on. His motto was, if it's not pretty, don't show it!
Boys in the Sand
Cast: Casey Donovan, Peter Fisk, Danny DiCioccio, and Tommy Moore.
Boys in the Sand is relaxed and juicy, but it's slow and artsy. There is no dialogue, but a wide range of music, from rock and ethnic to something that makes me think that Moses is about to part the Red Sea. Poole used a handheld camera, with no crew and no lighting. It was important to Poole to choose men who were open to being top or bottom. He gave the men a sense of their scene and their characters, then he allowed them to proceed undirected, making himself invisible, and adapting his shooting to their activities. His sense of pacing is slow. And of course, the movie is pre-condom.
This film has a dreamy feel to it. Peter walks and walks and walks, arriving at the beach to spread a blanket. Casey appears, running to shore from the ocean. Casey stands dripping wet as Peter worshipfully touches him, and he wears a cock ring as Peter sucks him. They walk into the woods, under a forest canopy, dappled with light, where Casey puts a studded leather cock ring on Peter. There are some lighting problems in the woods; frankly, it's sometimes hard to tell who's doing what, and there's not a good closeup of the penetration. But the scene is slow and gentle -- after Casey straddles Peter's chest for a facial, he gently wipes Peter's face with his hand. At the end of the scene, Peter puts the leather cock ring on Casey's wrist, and runs into the ocean to disappear. Casey puts on Peter's clothes and picks up Peter's beach blanket, and walks back toward town.
The dreamy symbolism of the first scene continues in the second scene, in which Casey magically conjures up Danny for a poolside rendezvous. The scene begins with Casey walking alone and aimless all over a seemingly empty town, walking, swimming, watering his garden, watching the sun flickering on the water for days on end. Then Danny appears in the pool and swims over to kiss him. In the dappled light of the yard, they dry hump, stroke and suck, eat ass, and fuck, before swimming and playing together in the pool. They walk together to the marina.
The last scene is also meant to seem mostly imaginary -- Casey daydreams an encounter with Tommy, a black telephone lineman that he has seen from his window. As Casey does some poppers and sits back onto a big black dildo, he imagines Tommy in his living room, wearing only a toolbelt. Casey sees himself licking a drop of precum from Tommy's dick, and grabbing Tommy's toolbelt to draw Tommy towards him. Tommy later writhes on the bed, getting his ass slapped and fingered as Casey strokes up to go in. They fuck each other and provide a tease suggestive of fisting, as well.
The dreamy idealism and slowness of the scenes takes away some of the grit and heat, but there are some beautiful shots in this movie. For its time, it was provocative for many reasons, among them the use of cock rings and the interracial scene.
Peter and Dino
There is an extra on the first disc called Peter and Dino. It was originally shot as the first scene for Boys in the Sand, but Dino made some demands, and without a signed model release, Poole had to re-shoot. At the last minute, he cast Casey Donovan instead as the lead. A fortuitous move, as Dino reminded me of Sonny Bono, whereas Casey is more of an Adonis.
But I enjoyed the Dino scene -- there is a very nice moment when Peter cups his hand almost reverently to catch Dino's cum, before they use it as lube. Although the scene when re-shot with Casey had the same format and a similar, feel, that magical moment was missing.
Cast: Bill Harrison, Bob Stubbs, Peter Fisk, Bruce Williams, Robert Lewis, Bill Cable, Rocco Passalini, Michael Green, Cassandra Heart, and Lydia Black.
Bijou was the second movie that Poole produced, in 1972. The feel of it is more dark and moody than Boys in the Sand. Poole has said that he was attempting to break all the rules for porno (including the rule that the audience has to see the cumshot). He wanted to convey that the main character was open to experimentation, and, "If it feels good, do it." Again, the movie has a slow, deliberate, almost worshipful feeling.
Bill Harrison plays the lead, a straight construction worker who witnesses a woman hit by a car, then surreptitiously picks up her purse and takes it back to his seedy and almost bare apartment. Finding an invitation in her purse to a place called 'Bijou,' he decides to go and see what it's all about. He showers before leaving, stroking his extra large dick while fantasizing about women. Then he dresses and walks to the Bijou. A woman in the box office there has the only line of dialogue in the movie, "Right through there."
At this point, Bill has gone 'down the rabbit hole,' finding himself in a surreal, dark environment of neon signs, mirrors, and odd sculptures. He undresses as the neon signs instruct him to. Wandering from room to room in the dark, past curtains of silver tinsel, through dry ice fog and strobe lights, he encounters Bob, laying face down and nude on the floor. Bill accepts the invitation, fucking this completely passive and still man, before they roll apart and Bob leaves. Alone again, Bill watches projected images on the wall.
Then a group of men enter, one at a time, to stroke, lick, and fondle Bill in a calm, massaging way. Bill eventually gets another suck and fuck before the men leave one at a time. After a moment, Bill shuffles through the fog, dressing again before going out to the street, where we see him smile for the first time.
Boys in the Sand II
Cast: Casey Donovan, Pat Allen, Victor Houston, Paul Irish, Dave Connors, and Tony Williams.
Released in 1986, this movie follows the same format as the original Boys in the Sand, but although it is technically superior, it has less charm.
This time, Pat walks out of the ocean to be worshipped by Casey, and after they wander into the woods and have sex, Casey disappears into the ocean, and Pat dons Casey's clothes and walks into town.
Pat wanders alone through town for many days (sipping coffee, reading, dining alone), until he finds Paul swimming at night in his pool. This poolside romp is a dynamic one, and Pat's cumshot looks like a bottle of Elmer's exploded on Paul's chest! But after they jump into the pool, Pat finds himself alone.
Then one day on the beach, Pat sees Dave and Tony walking past, and Dave gives Pat a long, lingering glance. Pat sits on the beach, daydreaming the sex between Tony and Dave, but at certain points Pat takes Tony's place in the scene.
For me, this movie just seemed like an afterthought of the original, and just repetitive.
Plentiful extras include a long interview of Wakefield Poole (about 90 minutes), photo gallery including one of the original movie posters, notes on the restoration of the movies, a short film of Andy Warhol's works, director's commentaries for all three feature length movies, trailers (including some old original ones for Boys in the Sand and Bijou, an eleven minute clip of the 1974 Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco, and short films entitled Water Movie and Roger.
A mini-archive of the era, and if only for historical context, a must see.
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