|A LIFE IN DIRTY MOVIES (director/writer: Wiktor Ericsson; cinematographers: Dino Harambasic/Sophie Winqvist /Martin Thorbjörnsson; editors: Dino Harambasic /Steen Johannessen /Erik Bäfving; music: Bugge Wesseltoft ; cast: Joe Sarno, Peggy Steffans, John Waters; Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Erik Magnusson; Film Movement; 2013-Sweden/USA)|
|"The pic is most engaging when
showing the sweet marriage."
by Dennis Schwartz
documentary filmmaker Wiktor Ericsson pays
tribute to legendary sexploitation American
writer-director Joe Sarno, known affectionately
by some in the soft-core porn trade as "The
Ingmar Bergman of 42nd Street." I'm not familiar
with his films, but that comparison, at first
glance, seems off-base since Sarno's films are smut
and intended for commercial success. Though it's
fair to say that Sarno was inspired by the great
Swedish director, and tried to be an artist in a
genre that called just for the 'money shot.'
Ericsson reviews a bunch of Sarno's sex
films, saying besides the required sex scenes he
added arty touches in the hopes of making them
into art films. His heyday for theater releases was
in the 1960s, with such cult films that played on
42nd Street as Sins in the Suburbs, Confessions
of a Young American Housewife and Inga,
depicting sex life in small towns. In the 1970s
hardcore porn dominated and he had to conform or
starve, and his principles went down the drain. It
took the home video era to recognize that his
soft-core porn films were more about the human
experience than sex. Through the release of his
films by more specialized video companies, he
received a more substantial fan base and a second
chance to be called an artist. At 88 Sarno is
still anxious to do films, as he hopes against all
odds for backers to emerge for one of his scripts.
doc follows Joe around for about a year, as it shows
the easy-going nice guy at work writing scripts at
home and cared for by his long-time loving wife, the
actress Peggy Steffans, now in her seventies. The
happy couple, who have a strong bond, are shown in
their NYC apartment and on their annual visit to
their second apartment in Stockholm. They have been
going to Sweden for once a year since 1970.
turns out the pic is most engaging when showing
their sweet marriage, and only so-so when going
reverential on Joe and interviewing assorted
colleagues, film historians and critics.
note, the Brooklyn born Joe, a
former World War II bomber pilot, died in 2010
after attending in London a belated festival
dedicated to his films.
REVIEWED ON 1/24/2015 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ