Retro Porn Reviews – The Ecstasy Girls

March 23, 2014
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It’s not often a heterosexual man gets happy about a specific male porn star being in a movie, but Jamie Gillis just happens to be the kind of solid and competent actor that will always increase any smut’s artistic value. So when you see him in a role that allows him to be his trademark smug self, while also being constantly humbled, you know you might be onto something.

Gillis plays Jerry Martin, an out of work actor who moonlights as an escort to pay the bills. His skills with the ladies are noticed by J.C. Church, a wealthy investor who hires him to seduce his sister and four nieces. If you’re worried this sounds like a voyeuristic incestuous deal, don’t worry. You see, J.C.’s older brother Edgar is dying and is splitting his fortune between his two siblings and four daughters. Edgar is a very conservative man, though, and would disown any of his daughters if they weren’t “pure.” Jerry’s job – along with his filmmaker friends George (John Leslie) and Archie (Paul Thomas) – becomes seducing and exposing the girls, so that J.C. gets to keep his brother’s entire fortune.

The Ecstasy Girls is directed by Gary Graver (using the pseudonym Robert McCallum) known for his work alongside the legendary Orson Welles. This movie is another example of how much bigger the budget for adult films had gotten at that time. It was shot on location in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe and San Francisco. The exterior shots are excellent, the plot – while slow at times and not the most entertaining ever – is engaging enough, and at some point the story is even kind of sweet, in a way (once you get past the constant deceiving and relentless greed, of course.) The acting in general, not just Gillis, is a strong point.

In perhaps the best sequence of the movie, Gillis and Serena have a mild, yet pretty hot BDSM scene; quite a rarity in the 70s. The dominant/submissive role exchange gave the characters much more interesting and deeper human qualities.

Another unique thing about The Ecstasy Girls is that the person it sexualizes the most is probably the lead male role, which is definitely not common in the adult industry of any era. Of course, the girls become the prey, but Jerry’s character seems so broken and in need of this gig, that it remains somewhat empathetic because of its exploited condition. There’s an unusual dose of romance behind the lust and cynicism.

While Graver’s porn directorial efforts weren’t as respected as his mainstream ventures as a cinematographer, he was far and away one of the most talented adult filmmakers of the time and went on to direct hundreds of x-rated titles during the next two decades. Overall, The Ecstasy Girls is an above-average production in terms of both sex and cinematography.

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