HETEROSEXUAL HARD-CORE CONVENTIONS
While the stag film and various striptease loops of the primitive era and beyond had already introduced the "meat shot," or extreme close-up of female genitals, it was not until Deep Throat that the ubiquitous "money shot" became a staple of hard-core film. Speaking to the documentary truth of the sex act, the visible ejaculation of the male performer allows the truth of male sexual pleasure to become visible. Notably, Behind the Green Door contains an extensive, slow motion ejaculation scene, enhanced by psychedelic colors and special effects. The necessity for these penis close-ups is facilitated by numerous scenes of heterosexually-oriented fellatio and scenes of penetrating intercourse where the penis is withdrawn prior to orgasm and then ejaculates onto the female partner—on her breasts, her buttocks, or her face (known as a facial).
Since female porn performers do not have the same visible evidence of orgasm as men, hard-core films make up for this lack by enhanced, nonsynchronous post-dubbed soundtracks where women aurally reveal their pleasure through a series of moans and cries of encouragement; these sound effects also verify the realism of the image shown onscreen. Furthermore, the camera's focus, when not intent on meat or money shots, often stays on the ecstatic reactions of the woman's face as another indicator of sexual pleasure and desire. Thus, for much of the golden age, porn films rarely needed to employ classically "handsome" male actors. The ability to remain erect (or maintain "wood") throughout a scene and ejaculate on command in front of cameras was a challenge that limited the pool of male porn performers. One of the most famous was John Holmes (also known as Johnny Wadd), a performer well known for his exceptional penis size (estimated to be between ten and fourteen inches); he starred in such films as Johnny Wadd (1971), The Life and Times of the Happy Hooker (1974), and All Night Long (1976). Before dying of AIDS in 1988, Holmes had starred in more than 220 pornographic films.
Classic feature-length, hard-core porn films (from the 1970s and early 1980s) have been compared to Hollywood musicals, both in terms of how they alternate scenes of narrative with moments of spectacle and in terms of how their narratives create utopias. Some of the more typical scenarios common to the heterosexual hard-core theatrical film are masturbation scenes, straight sex (male-to-female with penetration through intercourse), lesbianism, oral sex (either cunnilingus or fellatio), ménage à trois (threesomes), orgies, and anal sex. While most of these particular sexual numbers are inserted into typical heterosexual hard-core films, the films with elaborate narratives usually culminate in a final sex scene that displays ultimate fulfillment. For example, in The Opening of Misty Beethoven (1976) when Dr. Seymour Love (Jamie Gillis) finds Misty Beethoven (Constance Money) giving hand jobs in a Paris porn theater, his enthusiasm to transform her, Pygmalion-style, into a sophisticated sexual performer motivates a series of training sessions and tests, as Misty becomes increasingly skilled. Over the course of the film, Misty and Seymour develop feelings for each other, and the film culminates in a straight sex number as their hetero-sexual desire for each other is fulfilled.
Golden era hard-core pornographic films were usually shot with color film, employed fairly cohesive narratives, and were shown in X-rated theatrical venues. This type of film exhibition did inhibit some of porn film's masturbatory potential, and the placement of porn theaters in unsavory or dangerous neighborhoods often hindered women from attending pornographic films. Unsurprisingly, when video technology began to take hold in the late 1970s, the adult film industry pushed for home video's increased development, thereby opening the porn market to more women and couples and creating a wider variety of niche markets aimed at the individual porn spectator—interracial, gay, lesbian, bisexual, girl-on-girl, fetish, and so on. Also, as technology became more accessible in the mid- to late 1980s, the amateur market took off as all variety of couples shot their own porn films and distributed them through amateur porn companies such as Purely Amateur, Home Maid, and Amateur Home Video of California. Additionally, the genre of Gonzo porn—where the camera operator or director takes an overt part in the action, either by talking to the actors or by being a performer himself or herself—popularized by directors such as John Stagliano (also known as Buttman) proliferated due to the accessibility of hand-held and mobile camera equipment.
b. New York, New York, 21 January 1929
American director, producer, writer, editor, and distributor, Radley Metzger is known for making erotic films. The majority of his work is in soft-core pornography, although he made five sophisticated, hardcore pornographic films between 1975 and 1978.
Metzger initially studied acting and during the Korean War edited propaganda films. Later he dubbed foreign films and soon worked for foreign film distributor Janus Films, where he edited trailers for Bergman, Antonioni, and Truffaut films. At Janus he met Ava Leighton, who would become his partner in distributing art house and foreign films through his own company, Audubon Films. Metzger's first film, Dark Odyssey (1961), was a box-office and critical failure, and afterward he focused on distributing and re-editing (for US release) a series of fluffy erotic films that combined light nudity with French sophistication. These films included Pierre Foueaud's Mademoiselle Strip-tease ( The Nude Set , 1957), André Hunebelle's Les Collégiennes ( The Twilight Girls , 1957), and José Antonio de la Loma's Un Mundo para mi ( Soft Skin on Black Silk , 1959)—all starring French sex kitten Agnes Laurent. In 1966, Metzger purchased and re-cut his biggest box-office success, Mac Ahlberg's Danish erotic film Jag—en kvinna ( I, a Woman , 1965).
Following the popularity of his re-edited imports, Metzger began making his own erotic films, beginning with The Dirty Girls in 1964. Still, Metzger's career as a director did not really take off until Carmen, Baby (1967). Based on Prosper Mérimée's 1896 novel Carmen , it was the first of many adaptations that Metzger used as sources for his erotic films, adding to their veneer of high culture. One of Metzger's most visually striking and controversial films, Therese and Isabell (1968), photographed in sumptuous black and white, tells in flashback the illicit love story of two Catholic schoolgirls. Metzger followed this film with Camille 2000 (1969), his version of the celebrated novel by Alexandre Dumas fils.
While Metzger's films were often labeled sexploitation, his unique combination of art film aesthetics and spectacular art direction and costume/set design put his films on a par above grindhouse fare. Still, once pornographic films became more acceptable (and accessible) to mainstream adult moviegoers, Metzger decided to take a step towards more sexually explicit representations. His crossover film, the couple-swapping romp Score (1973), featured more explicit lesbian and bisexual scenes, but it was not until The Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann (1975) that Metzger, under the pseudonym Henry Paris, began to make hard-core pornographic films. Nevertheless, Metzger's hard-core films were exceptionally beautiful narrative features, utterly unique to the genre, as is clear in his most famous hard-core film, The Opening of Misty Beethoven (1976).
Carmen, Baby (1967), Therese and Isabell (1968), Camille 2000 (1969), The Lickerish Quartet (1970), Score (1973), The Punishment of Anne (aka The Image , 1976), The Opening of Misty Beethoven (1976)
Gorfinkel, Elena. "Radley Metzger's 'Elegant Arousal': Taste, Aesthetic Distinction, and Sexploitation." In Underground U.S.A: Filmmaking Beyond the Hollywood Canon , edited by Xavier Mendik and Steven Jay Schneider, 26-39. London: Wallflower, 2002.
Lehman, Peter, ed. Pornography: Film and Culture . New Brunswick, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.
Nina K. Martin
With the onset of home video availability, the structure and style of hard-core pornographic films began to evolve. Films no longer had to hold the attention of a group audience in the same manner, and many narratives became much more episodic, with sex scenes often only connected by a similar theme or performer. The structure of these films, combined with the home VCR, allowed home viewers to rewind, fast-forward, and pause on favorite scenes—and viewing could cease once orgasm was achieved. Hard-core porn shot on video also became much less expensive to produce, and often porn's mise-en-scène suffered as a result—costumes would often be dispensed with and scenes could be shot on identical and rather barren sets. Still, some filmmakers, such as Andrew Blake ( Night Trips  and House of Dreams ) and Michael Ninn ( Sex  and Latex ) insisted
on using film stock and making high-quality porn films that appealed to the couples market. More avant-garde filmmakers, including Rinse Dream (Steven Sayadian), created distinctive films utilizing experimental and art film aesthetics, as in Nightdreams (1982) and Café Flesh (1982).
Hard-core pornographic films tend to steal iconography from many familiar genres—horror, film noir, westerns, and science fiction. Yet the "porn comedy" is often a parody in name only, as films such as Black Cock Down , Finding Nympho , Frosty the Blowman , Hairy Pooper and the Sorcerer's Bone , Lawrence of a Labia , and Ordinary Peepholes do not retain a connection to their parodied text beyond their title. Films and videos that retain their parodic edge rely on the viewer's knowledge of the original text, such as in Sex Trek III: The Wrath of Bob (1995), which plays on Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982), and The Ozporns (2002), which parodies the hit reality show The Osbournes (2002–2004).