Cast: Tish Ambrose, Michael Knight, Sharon Kane, Klaus Multia, Carol Cross, George Payne, Rhonda Jo Petty, Jerry Butler, David Isreal Sandler
Non-sex role by Candida Royalle
Length: 74 minutes
Date of Production: 1984
Extra's: The best extra, by far, was a twenty year retrospective by Candida Royalle and a host of industry heavyweights, that lasted 34 minutes. I found the most interesting aspects of her interview to be her reasoning behind the founding of Femme Productions and what she saw as the need for erotica over porn (heck, the definitions of each started off the featurette). This being the 20 year anniversary of Femme Productions as well as the movie reviewed below, it came as no shock that they were the center of discussion throughout the featurette. Her ex-husband (Per), the publisher of AVN (Tim Connelly), fellow director Veronica Hart, and Nina Hartley (among others), all gave their perspectives on the start of Femme Productions and the underlying concept it was forged under. There was also a few trailers, a message from Candida, a photogallery (without commentary this time, sadly enough), and ads for Candida's line of Natural Contours vibrators product line rounded out the extras.
Audio/Video Quality: Femme was presented in the usual 1.33:1 as most adult features are shot even now. The movie being over twenty years old, I wasn't expecting a lot of quality from the movie but the colors were accurate and the overall visuals were interesting, even by today's standards. There was some grain and some minor video noise at times, but it looks better than most films shot back then as translated to DVD these days (owing a lot to how Candida refuses to settle when quality issues come up). The scenes were shot in the music video style of the day but maintain their message even today. The audio was presented in the usual stereo English but the emphasis is on the music rather than vocals. The music is still better than most releases today although I'm a fan of hearing the vocals more than most.
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Body of Review: Candida Royalle has long been a pioneer in the porn industry although she rails at the idea that she makes porn (preferring to call her works "erotica"). Celebrating the 20th anniversary of her company, Femme Productions, she has boldly stood where few women have dared to go. Without her, many of the current crop of women directors would be far less likely to have been given the chance to show they are just as capable as men (Jewel De'Nyle, Mason, and even Veronica Hart come to mind), if not more so. Candida's porn has been referred to as "porn on training wheels" by famed performer Nina Hartley and there is a sizable number of people that believe she practically invented the couples market. As the so called mainstream porn market continues to promote rougher and more outlandish forms of sex (commonly referred to as "circus act sex"), Femme Productions slowly releases a back catalog of material that isn't quite the porn I'm used to but it's certainly more hardcore than anything you've seen on pay cable. In a distribution deal with Adam & Eve, Ms. Royalle has released such hits as Urban Heat, Three Daughters, Stud Hunters, A Taste Of Ambrosia, Eyes of Desire, and One Size Fits All to a receptive, often female, audience. The latest of her re-releases is her very first movie as a producer/writer, Femme, taking its name from her production company (or was that vice versa?). The movie was a set of six scenes done up in music video style at a time when the growing conservative movement in the country seemed to weaken the resolve of many in the industry (along with the growing move to videotape to end all bigger budgets). The sex was fairly tame by current standards but I can safely say that a lot of women still buy her works long after they'd forget about what most men seem to buy (current titles sell well for a limited time and then disappear whereas her movies sell consistently over time). If you want to pick up a movie that might appeal to your female significant other, check this one out but here's a brief breakdown of the scenes by cast:
Scene One: Rock Erotica: Tish, looking very much a part of the 1980's in her exaggerated makeup and poofy hair, had the opening scene with Michael on the dark staircase of an apartment building. The two made out for a bit and followed what became Candida's initial style of presentation: the erotic rock video. The lingerie, the accessible setting, and the passion between the two were interesting to watch although I disliked the slow motion effects that were in vogue back then.
Scene Two: TV Idol: Sharon, back in her heydays wearing an outfit that a "let's get physical" Olivia Newton John would've been comfortable in, fantasized about getting pleasured by Klaus, the star of her favorite soap opera, on a bed. He slowly stripped for her and she returned the favor. The scene was a bit darker in nature than the last one, at least partially because of the music, but once the two started in on each other, it was fun to watch. I haven't seen Sharon look this good in along, long time (she's still attractive albeit as an older woman these days). It was tender and had none of the gonzo approach that current productions seemed forced into; making it a good first look at porn for the squeamish.
Scene Three: Gallery: Carol, George, and Michael had the next scene that started out when the trio met in an art gallery. This was Candida's favorite scene of the movie, in her own words: "The reason The Gallery is my favorite is because I had a real agenda with this one. Every adult film seemed to include a three-way. It was either two women servicing a guy, or two guys really doing it to a woman. In my three-way I wanted to show a woman being absolutely lavished with pleasure and attention by both men, and I can tell you Michael and George really gave me what I wanted to see! It's a slow, languorous fantasy-laden scene that builds to a real fever pitch as Carol is completely pleasured by both George and Michael as a woman should be." I thought Carol was a cutie and the pacing of the scene could teach a lot of current directors a thing or two about heated sexual action.
Scene Four: Photo Session: Rhonda, once one of the biggest gals in porn due to her resemblance to Farrah Fawcett, played a model to Jerry's photographer. Jerry was one of the best performers in the jizz bizz when this was made but he severed ties to the industry with a tell all book that skewered the business in a manner that was only topped by the Traci Lords scandal. This was far from my favorite scene of the movie since Rhonda's best days had long left her (she was recently inducted in the performer's hall of fame for earlier work) but the two had a bit of fun with one another; enjoying some mechanical pleasure if not a bunch of chemistry together.
Scene Five: Sales Pitch: Sharon, still looking great, and Rhonda, looking a bit better in this scene, had a lesbian coupling after Rhonda tried to sell Sharon some new makeup. It seemed far too tame for me and even by the standards of the day when it was made; it didn't achieve critical mass but maybe lesbians in real life thought it was swell.
Scene Six: The Dressing Room: Carol, in a moment of self discovery as she caressed her lovely body, was joined by David in a dressing room after warming herself up. The two looked good together and while the sex wasn't overly ambitious, it certainly had a charm to it that has long since left the industry. The use of lighting and shadow were more advanced than I think Candida and Lauren were ready for (it worked though so sometimes things just work out, yes?) but I can see where a lot of shy women might enjoy this one a lot more than the men they're with.
Summary: Femme will never be the kind of big seller that makes the monthly charts at AVN but it certainly was a breath of fresh air for those who want something different than what you'll find on the shelves of most adult book stores these days. The cast looked more real than the blow up Barbie's populating the industry today and the sex was more realistic. If that's what you want, you'll agree that the movie is worth a rating of Recommended or better for couples that are new to porn. If you like her work, you might also look into buying her recent book, How To Tell A Naked Man What To Do, available at Amazon and elsewhere, since it is far more involving than books released by other performers this year.
For other top notch porn, although admittedly more hardcore than Candida's works, check out: 2003's Top Porn List
Note: You can see recent candid shots of several of these performers by visiting: My Photo's and read about their antics at 2004 AEE Show.
---- You can email me with questions at Houstondon @ hotmail.com if you have any constructive criticism of the review too. :) Also you can follow me on twitter @HoustonDon