One of the true pioneers of adult and erotic cinema, Tinto Brass is renown as one of Europe’s leading figures in softcore erotic filmmaking, earning a worldwide reputation for his blend of art and extremity. After joining the Italian film industry in the early 1960’s Brass worked alongside the likes of Federico Fellini and Roberto Rossellini, before directing his debut solo feature in 1963. However it was not until 1976 that Brass would gain worldwide recognition, when Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione chose him to direct the infamous Caligula. Despite numerous editing and post-production issues, which caused Brass to disown the film, it made millions at the box office and ultimately gained him global notoriety.
And now Arrow Video bring us The Key and All Ladies Do It in two dual format editions including brand new uncut and uncensored versions of each film, which have been painstakingly restored for Blu-ray and DVD.
Stars: Frank Finlay, Stefania Sandrelli, Franco Branciaroli, Barbara Cupisti, Maria Grazia Bon, Gino Cavalieri, Piero Bortoluzzi | Written and Directed by Tinto Brass
Tinto Brass’s first major film since Caligula, The Key, originally released in 1983, stars Frank Finlay as a man who is terrified of losing his voluptuous wife Teresa (Sandrelli) because he is unable to satisfy her sexually. He arranges for her to have an affair, by taking erotic photographs of her and asking her would-be lover to develop them. Meanwhile, he keeps abreast of her burgeoning relationship by reading her diary, in the full knowledge that she in turn is reading his.
An adaptation of the 1956 Japanese novel “Kagi” by Jun’ichirô Tanizaki, The Key moves the story from fifties Tokyo to a pre-war Venice, allowing Brass to wallow in the decadence of the era giving his film a sleazier edge and to satirize Italian politics, reaffirming the same socio-political agenda Brass brought to Caligula. However unlike Brass’ Roman epic, The Key sees the director working in a much more restrained manner – amping up the erotic overtones when needed but keeping the film on a much more melancholic slant for the most part, after all this is the story of a marriage with troubles…
Sadly the melancholy overshadows the story and the sex, leaving The Key feeling much like a meandering tourist video for Venice rather than the masterpiece of erotica many claim it to be.
Film: * 1/5
Blu-ray: *** 3/5
All Ladies Do It
Stars: Claudia Koll, Paolo Lanza, Franco Branciaroli, Ornella Marcucci, Isabella Deiana, Renzo Rinaldi | Written and Directed by Tinto Brass
The longest version of All Ladies Do It ever released in the UK sees the stunning Claudia Koll indulge her unquenchable sexual appetite in a softcore epic loosely inspired by the Mozart opera Così fan tutte (the title is a direct translation). Lensed in 1992 but looking like something that has stpped straight out of the mid-80s, the film tells the story of Diana (Koll) and Paolo (Lanza), a happily married couple who have very different sexual appetites – whilst she loves to flirt and experiment, he’s content to simply listen to the stories of her various adventures. But, when she has an affair that’s much too close to home, he throws her out, and she moves into a Venetian flat to embark upon an erotic voyage of sexual discovery, while at the same time trying to win him back.
All Ladies Do It is, for the most part, a very different movie to The Key. Whereas that film was ultimately a dull, meandering tale of a marriage in breakdown, this is a fun and humorous frolic into a very similar territory. It also focuses much more on Brass’ most famous fixation – the arse! What also raises this film above Arrow’s other Brass release is it’s star Claudia Koll. Not afraid to lay her body or her sexuality bare on the screen, Koll gives a mesmerizing performance as the (anal) sex hungry Diana whose hedonistic behaviour drives All Ladies Do It through the monotony of Brass’ story.
Filled with Brass’ trademarks: mirror shots, toilets, urination and plenty of arses, All Ladies Do It is, like The Key, one for Brass fans and completists only. Everyone else will probably left a little cold.
Film: ** 2/5
Blu-ray: *** 3/5
Another pair of interesting releases from Arrow Video, both films look fantastic on Blu-ray, however both releases are let down by a lack of special features. All Ladies Do It comes with a collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic David Flint, illustrated with rare production stills, whilst The Key comes with a collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Tinto Brass scholar Alexander Tuschinski.
All Ladies Do It and The Key are released on Double-Play Blu-ray by Arrow Video on May 20th.