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October 26, 2006

One Venus, One Inch, and Towers


Black Venus
Claude Mulot -1983
Private Screening Collection Region 0 DVD


Lady Libertine/Frank and I
Gerard Kikoine - 1983
Private Screening Collection Region 0 DVD

I first became aware of film producer Harry Alan Towers when I attending a critics' screening of his production of Dorian Gray in 1970. This is the version with Helmut Berger in the title role, including a scene that I don't recall was in Oscar Wilde's book, with Gray cruising for companionship in a public toilet. My second Towers production was as an in-flight movie, Treasure Island, with Orson Welles as Long John Silver. The Towers formula would be to take public domain titles and make films that usually belied their modest budgets. Towers own life would make for an interesting movie as he has always managed to take the money and run, several times, and in the process remake some of his films. I don't know if Towers wrote the two screenplays while flying between film locations and angry bankers, as he has been reputed have done, but both films here were written under his psuedonym of Peter Welbeck.

Black Venus and Lady Libertine are the debut DVD releases of a company called Private Screening Collection. Their initial films are both productions that Towers did on behalf of the Playboy Channel over twenty years ago. Private Screening Collection has two more Towers produced Playboy Channel films scheduled for November. Both films are polished productions that almost look like what would happen if Merchant-Ivory made soft core erotica. Both films boast literary sources, Lady Libertine from the anonymous Edwardian era narrative, while Black Venus gives credit to that chronicler of hot lesbian couplings and group sex, Honore de Balzac.

The films themselves are not really meant for serious analysis. Black Venus has the advantage of having the more attractive Josephine Jacqueline Jones, Miss Bahamas 1979, as the star. The film was directed by the filmmaker also known as Frederic Lansac, best known for his film Pussy Talk. The DVD cover for Lady Libertine features future French TV hostess Sophie Favier on the cover. Jennifer Inch as "Frank" does not disguise her feminity with that Dutch Boy hair cut, and is otherwise less alluring than the other female cast members. As the story is about a man who takes in who he thinks at first is a runaway boy, there is a homoerotic aspect to the story that the filmmakers, pardon the pun, skirt.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at October 26, 2006 09:07 AM