Cast: Gloria Leonard, Constance Money, Annette Haven, C.J. Laing, Conchita Costello, Jenny Baxter, Erica Havens, Leslie Bovee, Clea Carson, Suzanna McBain, Crystal Sync, Hope Stockton, Nancy Dare, Eric Edwards, Wade Nichols, David Savage, Peter Andrews, Michael Gaunt, Faceless Guy, Lance Knight, Marc Valentine, Rocky Millstone, Spaulding Gray, Alan Marlow, Waldo Short (cast courtesy of IAFD.com)
Length: 84:51 minutes
Date of Production: 1978
Extras: The first disc had a 5:42 minute Q&A with Gloria Leonard feature that was informative, relatively recently shot, and included as much about her as the movie in question. There was a company watermark in the lower right hand corner but it looked very clear compared to the movie itself. There was 9:15 minutes worth of trailers and a short photogallery too, the bulk of the extras included on the second disc. The second disc started off with a much longer interview of Gloria Leonard lasting 29:54 minutes, my impression being that the shorter interview from the initial disc was culled from this source material. There was a photogallery and two short scenes from other Gloria Leonard flicks, the case including an advertisement, a couple of strips of film from a copy of the movie, and an 8 page booklet going into even more historical detail as written by Benson Hurst.
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Audio/Video Quality: Maraschino Cherry was presented in its original anamorphic widescreen format as remastered a few years ago from copies of the 35mm film to look as good as it did when it appeared in adult theaters years ago. Like all movies of the time, it was shot on film for public audiences, not for home use, this being the first version that was as complete as can be (after various court battles) and vastly superior to the previous DVD where numerous edits were made and the VHS versions that were formatted in full frame, also containing cuts fans would hate. The exact aspect ratio was not 1.85:1 but it didn’t appear to be 1.66:1 either, custom lab work being the norm back when this was originally shot in the 1970’s. That said, it looked great for its age, some scratches on the film print used for the remastering process observed and some color saturation issues in a few scenes, the use of mainstream shooting techniques a far cry from the handicam productions common at this writing. The video bitrate varied considerably but appeared to be in the 5.2 Mbps area when spot checked, some light grain permeating the stock shots but overall looking superior to every previous consumer version. There was a company watermark in the lower right hand corner from time to time but it never stayed long and as much as some hate them, they are a fact of life in copyright piracy times like these. The audio was presented in a cleaned up monaural though it registered in 2.0 Dolby Digital English on my setup, the aural tracks the same from each side of the speakers (I used headphones). The 192 Kbps audio bitrate with 48 kHz sampling rate was sufficient to convey the original experience, the vocals, music, and ambient sounds all balanced in a professional manner seemingly long lost to the industry that prefers built in microphones more often than not. It was a little on the low side so when it was turned up for comfortable listening, there was some background noise but it was not distracting.
Body of Review: Here at Xcritic, we have numerous reviewers that specialize in adult genres, my own interests tending towards contemporary, mainstream titles. Having been a fan of porn for over 30 years now, this interest includes what are now called “classics”, most of which were shot on film before the advent of home viewing for the most part. One that I recall being shown in a seedy downtown theater was called Maraschino Cherry, and over the years I have picked up a few different copies of it, all of them substantially flawed due to framing issues (the tapes were in full frame) and editing on a major scale (some copies clocking in missing ten minutes or so). Then I saw Mooninite’s Review where he went to great lengths to explore the latest, greatest home version of the movie as part of the Video X Pix “Platinum Elite Collection”, a few years back and I was hooked. Yup, I had to check it out to see how it fared from my wayward youth.
Unlike most of my reviews, I’m not going to go into overwhelming depth on the specific scenes, those of you familiar with the movie know a “scene” might last several seconds, be bits of a blowjob, or otherwise barely qualify as a scene by today’s standards so it would be pointless to outline every handjob, hummer, or spilling of genetic juice in the show. Further, unlike many other classics, this show was extremely light on plot or story, amounting to a series of loosely connected vignettes as a Madame (Gloria Leonard) shows her sister (Jenny Baxter) the ropes of her entrepreneurial spirit, their parents telling the younger sister that they didn’t believe said older sister was a high fashion model. Needless to say, as Radley Metzger’s last true porno (using his Henry Paris alias), he threw in everything but the kitchen sink, the movie serving as a means to convey that all sorts of sexual practices are acceptable, even delving into some S&M at the end when Annette Haven and Gloria Leonard show C.J. Laing all about balance (and anal sex).
While not the most acclaimed work of the director, his humor was found throughout the movie too, from the human “clock” that held a flogger and yell out as struck on the hour, the signage indicating that they didn’t discriminate (in a roundabout manner), or the verbally witty exchanges. In a sense, the movie fit the times, the sex for pleasure wave of the 70’s broadened to a larger audience via the adult cinema. The casual nature of how women would blow men, even some gifted reasoning for doing so (to prevent a guy from getting too demanding for penetrative sex) was offered up, the often less explicit (by current standards) nature of the visual elements helping add some sexual tension. If you want a sense of history and how things evolved over time, there might be better choices from the company but Maraschino Cherry has a warm place in my crotch due to how it worked for me so long ago (more than now), the sense of style far removed from most of what I review these days. Still, if you want to know about the movie itself and the history behind it, check out Mooninite’s review or pick up a copy of movie, the extras alone were worth the purchase price.
Summary: Maraschino Cherry by director Henry Paris for Video X Pix might not float your boat but it was amusing, entertaining, and yes, at times strokable porn from a bygone era so I rated it as Recommended or better, largely depending on your personal tastes. The “Platinum Elite Collection” version surpassed all releases to date in most ways, the use of original 35mm negatives to get the best possible copy certainly a process I wish were more commonplace these days, so many classic titles either lost to the ravages of time or simple greed. In short, while I can’t say that Maraschino Cherry will suit all tastes, it might be a perfect fuck flick to introduce a non-aficionado to the pleasures of the flesh, the sense of class and style a cut above most of what you will find for sale at the local porn emporium. For the record, all ratings on the movie are based on classic titles rather than the latest video shot contemporary releases.
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