Directed by Radley Metzger (as Henry Paris)
Produced by Radley Metzger
Written by Jake Barns
Starring Constance Money, Jamie Gillis
Jacqueline Beaudant, Gloria Leonard Terri Hall
Music by George Craig Gioacchino Rossini
How do you categorize a film considered to be one of the greatest ‘hardcore’ adult film ever made? Since, Pornography is everywhere; today, and it’s available in all forms, and desires, at the click of a button. Somewhere down the line, the latitude of ‘making love’ has been bastardized into a single act of ‘excessive’ arousal through a medium of fake emotions, close cuts, and stimulating male gaze. And having seen the film in an era where ‘pornography’ and its inherent dimension are omnipresence, and somewhere down the line, we ourselves, have become an object of gaze. Since everyone is looking for the ‘real’; something which gives them the power to witness intimate encounter beyond their own capacity, but at the same, allows them to fulfill their desires.
In between countless such films, and materials, where does this film exist? First of all, on surface, this film differs in key areas from every other film in this genre, and at the same, it sublimates the overall notion of being stereotyped into this genre perse. The Opening Of Misty Beethoven has sleek set design, features an interesting plot line, has a relatively higher budget (this is evident in the entire film, through the various location: Rome, New York, Paris, the art deco, the costumes, the lighting, camera).
One of the fundamental differences between this film and countless other films in a similar genre is that it never presents the whole set –pieces (stages of sexual encounters) as a catalyst for excessiveness. Every encounter felt like an act of desire, without the phony impression that what you watching is made just to stimulate you. Instead it gave the feeling that what you watching will stimulate you, but at the same time, there is a plot to follow, you listen to the characters (for the first time, the volume was on a considerable level while watching such a film, because they needed to be heard). This is one of the first Porn films to have composed music, and during a key moment, a very interesting song elevates the rhythm and pace of the whole scene.
The film begins with a sleek intercut and moves rapidly in with varying degree of streamlined editing from rhythmic jump cuts, to well choreographed mise-en-scene( sequence shots with rhythmic montage dominates the overall pacing of the film. This is largely due to the genius of Radley Matizger who directed this film under a pseudonym, Henry Paris. It was his background in editing and directing, as well as, his know of, cinematic technique and influence that he could present a film as The Opening of Misty Beethoven with such professionalism and vision. Yet, I’m sure; this film would offend a lot of people (I mean not everyone can see it with the same eye, even though, behind the veil, it’s all there). Perhaps, there is an underlying fault in the film since it tries to amalgamate two distinct poles: porn and quality where no matter how ‘great’ are its attributes it would still not be able to gain the respect.
The basic plot of the movie lies in training Misty Beethoven (who the sex expert Seymour Love finds in a theater) into a super prostitute (he keeps tipping her, and there is a an entire montage dedicated to her training regime) to seduce a dirty magazine mogul in an annual ball, but what follows in an annual ball after sheer glances is something which I personally had never seen on screen, the first pegging. I know, not everyone, even today, could digest such a film (by ‘digest’ I mean, create a sense that what he is watching is a ‘solid film’ and not just an act of pornography). Since this is something which is extremely difficult in today’s world' with mass proliferation of images both sexual and asexual (which in all its norms is still trying to entice (though with the absence), that people don't have the time to read between lines, and everything is bluntly categorized between ying and yang erasing any trace of the middle path. Though the plot and the overall concept of the film is derived from the Pygmalion mythology and My Fair Lady it still manages to branch out and invent an own idiom of progression (by taking the ideas of these two tales and infuses them with a tale much myriad and dense, and by all accounts liberating, and taboo breaking.
Their is a distinct imagery which is recurring in this film; the image of the passion and desire of woman, oozing and enjoying through every minute of the intimate encounter- this is something one does not see in mainstream or porn films. Since a lot of movies tend to turn ' women' desires and fulfillment into male testosterone, where the basic ' image' of the women, the harmonic sound of their ' voice' is turned into a catalyst for men stimulation. And this is another ' key' area where this film shines in portraying woman enjoying one of the most important aspects of living, without the pretence nature of faking everything, due to the conscious presence of the ' gaze', and the every conscious predicament to satisfy.
The Opening of Misty Beethoven is surprising in all departments. The actors could act, the cinematography was crisp, the art direction minimalzed yet sublime, the costumes par with most mainstream films, and the topics it dealt with; from adultery to homosexuality were far ahead of its time, everything in the film evokes ‘ quality’ and it stands as a solid film. The opening dialogue of the film sums up the entire mood, gesture, attitude of the whole film, when Seymour Love talks to Misty Beethoven for the first time”:
“What’s you name”, Sam asks.
“Misty Beethoven,” she replies
“Is that your real name?”
“Misty isn’t my real name,” she tells him. “I changed it to sound more important.”
“From what?” Seymour asks.
I should have guessed.