This Cal Vista feature from 1984, directed by Joe Sherwin, is shot as a pretty standard documentary and, in case you couldn't figure it out from the title, it takes you behind the scenes of the adult film industry of the time. It starts with some clips of a few performers at work before hitting us with snippets of interviews shot with the likes of Don Fernando, Ron Jeremy, Herschel Savage, Lisa De Leeuw, Samantha Fox and others all giving sound bites about their work.
From there, we get a look at John Leslie and Suzanna French fucking. He picks her up in a restaurant and takes her back to his place where she gives him head, the camera zooming in very close to the action to the point where it's almost a little hard to tell what's happening. Once Leslie finishes, we see some porn stars auditioning. The stoic narration tells us that the girl we're seeing (she's not named) is trying this out for the first time. She strips for the camera and shakes her tits around a bit as a dopey looking blonde guy leers at her. She does one of the most awkward dances ever recorded as the camera zooms in on her shaved beaver and some horrible Casio Keyboard style music plays overtop. From there we cut to a few performers trying out some lines and rehearsing their dialogue before working out how the sex scenes are going to play out (they do this with their clothes on). This goes on for a bit and its moderately amusing and then we cut to the set of an actual porno film as it's being shot where, this time, they do it all for real. Cue more bad music, a blonde gives a guy head on the couch, and the camera zooms in.
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Ron Jeremy shows up next to talk to us about the differences between hardcore and softcore, and then we see some more clips from the Cabellero film library as a guy fucks a cute blonde with a headband on. The camera pulls out after they finish and we see them instantly relax. Lisa De Leeuw gets in front of the camera to talk about how she got into the adult film industry and her input is followed by input from a few other performers, male and female. The movie goes back and forth between the documentary bits and clips from a few different features, including Expose Me Now, Easy, The Love Syndrome and Garage Girls.
Some of the footage here is interesting. Ron talks about how it's difficult for many male performers to get hard-on's once the cameras start rolling (we learn firsthand how director's take care of this problem by shooting softcore footage and adding hardcore inserts later, sometimes with a different actor) when they first jump into the industry, while Herschel Savage (in a Boy Scout uniform) talks about the appeal of the industry for exhibitionist types. The various performers interviewed here - aside from those already mentioned look for Dorothy LeMay, Danielle, Veronica Hart, Richard Pacheco, K.C. Valentine, Ray Wells, Laura Lazarre, Georgina Spelvin, Cris Cassidy, Jon Martin, Bobby Astyr, Jessie St. James, Brooke West and a few others - have got interesting stories to tell and their reasons for doing what they do and their experiences on the various projects on which they've worked do make for interesting subject matter. There are times where the documentary feels a little too reliant on the clips it uses, almost as if they filmmakers needed to pad the picture with hardcore footage to ensure that it found an audience. If you take the clips out, this hour and a half long feature quickly winds up about forty minutes long, and if you've seen the movies it pilfers from you might feel a little bit ripped off but there's enough interesting interview bits that this is still very much worth checking out if you have even a passing interest in the history of porno movies.
This fullframe transfer is made up of footage shot with a camcorder and clips that look to have been shot on film. As such, the quality varies a little bit. Expect some grain and some mild print damage to present itself on a semi-regular basis, but thankfully, it's never super dominant. Colors bleed in some spots, reds in particular, and fine detail isn't so hot but the image is perfectly watchable, if far from reference quality.
The Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack sounds fine even if there's a little bit of reverb to some of the interview bits. The clips balance out with the interviews nicely, there are no problems with the levels to report, and while some background noise is noticeable here and there it's never overpowering or too distracting. The track isn't great, but it's acceptable enough.
The only really substantial extras on this disc are a few bonus scenes, starting with a scene from Eruption that features John Holmes getting a blowjob. The next bonus scene is from Suzie Superstar and it stars Shauna Grant and Ron Jeremy. Shauna takes off her top and drops to her knees to give Ron head. She sucks him off for a while and he strokes off onto her ample and lovely cleavage. The third and final scene is from Here Comes The Bride and features a brunette (Samantha Fox) fucking two hairy guys (Roger Caine and David Christopher) on the kitchen counter. Rounding out the extras are trailers are a picture of the original box art, a slideshow featuring some production stills and glamour shots of the cast in action, and trailers for Expose Me Now, Here Comes The Bride, and Easy as well as some animated menus, scene selection and a web-link.
Behind The Scenes Of An Adult Movie is more interesting as a time capsule of the industry that was rather than any sort of erotic distraction but it's got historical merit enough to warrant a look for fans of vintage smut. You won't likely find yourself wanting to whack off as you watch it, but you might learn something. Recommended.