03rd Sep2014

‘The Early Works of Wakefield Poole’ DVD Review (Vinegar Syndrome)

by Mondo Squallido

My only connection with Wakefield Poole prior to watching Boys in the Sand was Calvin Culver (also known as Casey Donovan) who appeared in Radley Metzger’s film, Score. Of course, the name Wakefield Poole is one you hear a lot when you are a fan of the Golden Age of adult cinema. Thanks to those chaps at Vinegar Syndrome, us fans of classic smut can now experience the works of Wakefield Poole with their Films of Wakefield Poole Collection.



Kicking off the collection is Boys in the Sand, Poole’s directorial debut. The film is a piece of experimental art house pornography that is beautifully shot on the picturesque Fire Island. There is no dialogue or diegetic sound of any kind, in its place is music. Of course, there are hardcore scenes but they are shot tastefully and are in some places, very passionate and intense. That’s where my praise for the film ends. I found Boys in the Sand to be a very dull experience. Some may be put off by the sexual content, but that was no issue for me at all. I just found the film so uninteresting. Technically, the film is sound. Wakefield has such skill behind the camera and a great sense of style. The marriage of music and imagery is marvellous. If you are an aspiring filmmaker, this is a great example of what you can produce with a tight budget and creative mind. Although I didn’t enjoy the film aside from it’s aesthetic and experimental elements, I can appreciate just how important this film is. Not only was this a milestone for pornography in general but it also helped show gay sex and homosexuality in a positive light. Not only that, but it made Fire Island something of an international holidaying hot spot. Just like Deep Throat, the film itself is nothing to shout about but its cultural and social impact is something everyone should be aware of.

It’s not all negativity though my friends, this release also boasts four short films directed by Poole:

ANDY (1971)

Fans of Andy Warhol will definitely appreciate this short. Filmed during a Warhol retrospective in 1971 at the Whitney Museum, Poole documents the event in a way that is exciting and kinetic. Not only that, but it compliments Warhol’s work perfectly. Not only did Poole shoot and edit this, he also created a soundtrack to compliment the imagery. It’s interesting to note that Poole presented the finished piece to Warhol as a present and even screened it before showings of Boys in the Sand. The soundtrack alone makes this worthy of viewing.

A GIFT (1971)

Shot on Fire Island around the same time as Poole was making Boys in the Sand. This is something of a precursor to Poole’s first feature. The film was made in collaboration with Ed Parente and was shown to Parente’s lover to show how much he loved him. It’s once again a tastefully made piece that is symbolic following creative journey of a man and a shell. I have probably completely missed the point but it’s still worthy of a watch.

HEAD FILM (1971)

Once again we have a very experimental and fast piece in which Poole combines music from the camp to the epic, with footage and audio taken from various TV shows, commercials and radio. Just for good measure we get lots of cooking (damn the food looks good!). This is indeed a very exciting piece of experimental film that also has a sense of humour about it. Shot on 8mm, this is a pure piece of experimentation at its finest.


Finally, we have what is possibly my favourite short on the DVD. Moving away from live action, Poole turns his hand to stop motion animation. The piece was made as part of a show put on by Triton Gallery to help publicise the art of Vittorio Florucci, a Canadian artist. There’s really not much to tell aside from it’s an intriguing and well made animation that stop motion animation fans will enjoy.

Overall, the main feature is nothing amazing for me but the release in question is fantastic. Vinegar Syndrome have certainly outdone themselves. Aside from the bonus shorts, you get an audio commentary, vintage interview and introduction from Poole himself as well as a featurette revisiting Fire Island. Not only that but there is an interview with Linda Williams, an unused sequence from Boys in the Sand as well as the films original trailer. The presentation of the film is as good as we will probably get, and Vinegar Syndrome have done the best with what materials they have. The shorts are presented here for the first time on DVD and the features are plentiful. This is a great release for fans of classic porn as well as those who are interested in the social aspects. We have come far as a society in terms of equal rights and this film and release could not have come at a better time. If you are open minded and mature enough, there is no reason why you shouldn’t at least check this release out. My hats off to Vinegar Syndrome once again.

You can buy this release directly from Vinegar Syndrome, as well as your favourite online retailers.


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