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Nothing To Hide

Studio: VCX » Review by Addison DeLick » Review Date: 6/15/09

XCritic's Advice: Recommended

1981, 98 minutes
Genre: feature film
Director: Anthony Spinnelli
Cast: John Leslie, Richard Pacheco, Chelsea Manchester, Holly McCall, Misty Regan, Erica Boyer, Raven Turner, George Spelvin (Anthony Spinnelli)

The feature film "Nothing to Hide" was a big award winner back in 1981 and it's easy to see why, especially when the movie is viewed from the standpoint of our current age of gonzo/gynecological porn. It succeeds in all the traditional film elements: writing, directing, editing, scoring, cinematography and especially acting. John Leslie and Richard Pacheco receive top billing (when was the last time you saw two men get their names above the title in a straight porn film?) as, respectively, swinging ladies' man Jack and his slow-witted but sweet buddy Lenny (as in "Of Mice and Men").

The two seem to be unlikely friends, with Jack curiously patient with the manchild Lenny. Jack lets Lenny live with him in his pathetic one-room apartment and is always trying to bring the shy kid out of his shell. Lenny dutifully follows Jack everywhere and looks up to him as if he were a big brother; Lenny's devotion includes standing guard while Jack fucks a housewife in her home, or goes and entertains himself for a while as Jack picks up girls in the park.


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Lenny always asks Jack if he'll help him get laid, and Jack always says yes, but that day never comes for poor Lenny. Until one day in the park, when he literally bumps into a rollergirl, Karen (Chelsea Manchester), who seems as childish and slow-witted as Lenny. Naturally, they hit it off, though their courtship takes a while to get going. As the boy/girl love story plays out -- we're shown just enough of their "dating" to understand that  months are passing -- horny old Jack continues fucking around, including having rough sex with a hottie (Misty Regan) who has hit his car, or finally giving in to the loudmouth (Holly McCall) who works at a coffee stand and has been begging for sex. It's only in a brief flashback by Jack late in the film that we see how his friendship with Lenny started and why the boy means so much to him.

If all this sounds like too much plot and character development for a sex film, it is. The drama seems to play out at the expense of down-and-dirty footage. There are only six brief hardcore scenes intercut with the larger drama, and they are all relatively tame. In only one his five sex scenes does John Leslie have an exterior pop shot (on Holly McCall's face); sometimes there's no oral sex by either party, just fucking; and we come in on most of Leslie's scenes midway through the action, which, it could be argued, is an artistic decision since the foreplay-less-ness mirrors Jack's wham-bam personal style. By contrast, the lone sex scene between Lenny and Karen, while including no oral sex, is nevertheless arousing since it unfolds slowly and in real time as the two awkward, tentative lovers have their first experience -- including fumbling with a rubber. 


                                                      THE DVD

One of a handful of vintage Cal Vista productions recently reissued on DVD by VCX, "Nothing to Hide" has lost little of its fine look. The 1981 feature, which was shot on 16 mm film in the San Francisco area, looks extremely good in this transfer. The 4:3 picture has vivid color and minimal scratching and debris. Only the sound seems "old," with some muffling dulling the dialogue at a few points. But the soundtrack includes a well-integrated score and even a title song with vocal.

The main menu is simple and straightforward, as are the extras, which amount to bonus scenes and trailers from other vintage fare, a "Nothing to Hide" photo slide show and posters and box covers for the videocassette and DVD. The bonus scenes are from 1980s features "Suzie Superstar" and "Eruption" (with John Holmes) and two compilation titles, "Legendary Hardcore" and "Legendary Softcore." Trailers are for those same titles, as well as the vintage hit "Easy."


                                               THE LAST WORD

"Nothing to Hide" is impressive filmmaking, but your enjoyment will depend on whether you value high production values over sexual content. The movie would nearly stand on its own without any hard action, but the six sex scenes do add a thrill. With excellent performances by the Jack Nicholson-like John Leslie and porn's Method practitioner, Richard Pacheco, you almost forget this is porn. Female viewers are likely to appreciate this approach more than their salivating boyfriends will, but there's enough sex to get the guys excited.

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