Friday, January 3, 2014

Blue Money (1972)

          Genuinely thoughtful movies about the porn-film industry are rare (the dark 1974 drama Inserts is among the few examples), because most filmmakers who engage the subject of skin flicks end up telling stories that are as trashy as their subject matter. Blue Money is therefore a peculiar entry in the genre, seeing as how the movie is derailed not by tackiness but by ineptitude. Although it’s a presented as a character-driven rumination on the life of a pornographer, the movie suffers from bad acting and threadbare writing, so it ends up feeling a bit seedy even though the sexual elements of the picture are handled with restraint. French-Canadian hunk Alain Patrick stars as Jim, a freethinking counterculture type who lives in a Malibu beach house with his wife, Lisa (Barbara Mills), and their young child. Jim relocated to California to direct porno movies for quick cash, and he works with a producer named Mike (Jeff Gall). Whereas Mike fits the industry stereotype—he’s a swinger in polyester suits who uses his job to get sex from starlets—Jim is a faithful family man focused on building a sailboat in which he and Lisa plan to sail the open seas once he’s made his fortune. Yet Jim faces twin crises when he meets an actress whom he can’t resist, Ingrid (Inga Maria), and when federal agents begin a crackdown on the skin trade that threatens to land Jim in jail.
          Patrick, who also produced and directed Blue Money (under an alias), seems more preoccupied with appearing shirtless than with communicating the soul of his character. Moreover, his filmmaking is as stilted as his acting—he generates long, drab sequences in which nothing happens, as well as standard-issue ’70s montages and sex scenes set to wimpy music. Leading lady Mills, who can almost act, enlivens scenes during which her character agues with the self-involved protagonist, and costar Gall, who also approaches competence, adds a smidgen of sleaze. Given the overall simple-mindedness of Blue Money, it’s alarming whenever Nick Boretz’ flat screenplay (based, of course, on a story by Patrick) hurtles into heaviness. Consider this mouthful of a line, delivered by Patrick in his French-accented English: “Don’t you think pornography’s damaging, especially to young minds? I think it’s an indication of the sub-surface decay of our society.” The effort at substance is appreciated, but the strain on the part of all involved is painfully obvious. Thanks to its lurid setting, Blue Money has a fair amount of nudity—none of it sexy—and the film’s extensive location photography provides an interesting-ish travelogue of ’70s Los Angeles. Ultimately, Blue Money is substandard in every important way, but it has flashes of conscience and intelligence—amid far too many narcissistic shots of Patrick’s golden-skinned Québécois bod.

Blue Money: FUNKY

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