Roughly two seconds after someone invents a new technology, someone else will use that technology for sex. Almost as soon as William Kennedy Dickson invented his hand-cranked mutoscope, someone else put it to use in a series of films called “What the Butler Saw”.
The films on “Vintage Erotica Anno 1920” are not the oldest surviving erotic films. The Kinsey Collection holds reels from the late 1800’s and early 1900s, featuring acts such as anal sex and fellatio, showing that modern eroticism isn’t so different from what our great-grandparents were into.
All of the films on this DVD are French, mostly used as entertainment for brothels of that era, and most likely featuring prostitutes in the cast. They are very much “hardcore”, depicting sex acts not very different from what you would see in modern erotic films. I was personally surprised at the amount of girl/girl and threesome scenes, as I had assumed this was more of a modern fascination, but then everything old is new again. All of the films are quite short, but there is quite a lot on this DVD to keep you entertained. The atmosphere is definitely “classier” than modern films, and every thing has a touch of artistry to it. Some of them are silly, and clearly played for laughs rather than stimulation. My two favorite films were a threesome of folks in harlequin suits doing their thing to Debussy’s “Clair de Lune”, and an animated cartoon that is absolutely hilarious.
As can be expected from films this old, they aren’t in the best of shape. They were not made for posterity, and I imagine that none of the people involved in making them considered that people would still be watching them almost 100 years later. Unfortunately, little has been done in terms of preservation or restoration, and a few of the films are almost unwatchable due to their scratchy nature. There are also no subtitles, which is a shame. Like all silent films, there are intercut “dialog scenes”, and it shouldn’t have taken to much effort to translate and subtitle these scenes. I was truly surprised by the amount of group sex shown, as well as the variety of sexual activity taking place (the level of explicitness varying from film to film); who knew that bisexuality was so chic back in the Twenties? Even more unexpected, and more appreciated, was the randy sense of humor that a number of these little films expressed. Some of the action is a little awkward, true, and the models are definitely from the era of a different aesthetic, but some of them are quite fetching. As ‘dirty’ as the films are, given their time period they’re remarkably inoffensive; and even charming. The films were originally silent (with storyboards, mostly in French), but have here been given peppy, absurd or curious little soundtracks by Marcel Fragonard and Le Epopee de Culte Sinfonietta (France’s answer to Ego Plum?). Visually, despite having been “remastered” these black & white shorts all show the ravages of time; sometimes this enhances the ‘taboo’ quality of these secretive films, but other times it obscures them completely.

01. Zut! Zut! Ma Legitime [2:44]
02. Le Satyre Casimir [4:13]
03. Un Apres-Midi A La Fumerie [3:11]
04. Au Clair De La Lune [4:52]
05. Les Mesaventures de Monsieur Gross Bitt [6:12]
06. Les Deux Columbines [5:43]
07. Seduction (Le Duc De Sommerange) [6:23]
08. La Coquette Aux Bas Blancs [5:17]
09. Le Retour De L’explorateur [6:45]
10. Pierrette Allait a la Riviere [2:23]
11. L’Amour Chez Minouche [7:19]
12. La Lecon de Piano [7:24]
13. Le Pedicure Enflamme [3:37]
14. Les Bas-Fonds Napolitains [2:53]
15. Untitled [3:39]
16. Le Telegraphiste [8:28]
17. Mariage Ultra-Moderne [6:41]
18. Gisele et le Groom [6:48]
19. Apres La Confession [4:31]

[01]In Zut! Zut! Ma Legitime! a wife catches her husband’s mistress and ends up in a 69 with her; [02]Le Satyre Casimir finds a pair of gents spying a couple of ladies heading into the woods for a lovers’ tryst, so one dresses up like Pan in order to get in on the action; [03]Un Apres – Midi a la Fumerie concerns an opium smoker’s dream, a den full of nude women high on the fruit of the poppy (although true to the dope fiend’s nature he really doesn’t do anything with them);[04]Au Clair de la Lune is some sort of pornographic three-way clown opera (involving Pierrot);[05]Les Mesaventures de Monsieur Gross’ Bitt is a hilariously lowbrow Tijuana Bible brought to life, presenting the cartoon misadventures of a man and his giant penis;[06]Les Deux Colombines three performers engage in some very heated and acrobatic sexplay;[07]Seduction (Le Duc de Sommerange) an imprisoned aristocrat enlists the help of two female acquaintances in seducing his jailer into an orgy of freedom (with an unusual double money shot);[08]
La Coquette Aux Bas Blancs-two lovely ladies[one with white stockings] make out with each other[and a couple of lucky gents];[09]Le Retour de l’Explorateur finds an African explorer bringing a man in a chimpanzee suit home to a pair of women, triggering some four-way monkey business;[10]Pierrette Allait a la Riviere, perhaps the collection’s weakest offering, a woman goes down to the river for a bucket of water, falls in, takes off her wet clothes, stumbles around with her back to the camera, and leaves;[11]L’Amour Chez Minouch is all about some female haberdashers who get a strap-on rubber phallus in the mail and go to town until a man comes in to help them out with a more natural approach;[12]La Lecon de Piano it’s not quite clear what the plot is, but nobody’s doing much piano playing;[13]Le Pedicure Enflamme throws some male bisexuality into the mix as a pair of guys and a dame get it on;[14]Les Bas-Fonds Napolitains is one of the cleanest prints, clearly detailing a number of apparently random scenes from various loops [15]Untitled-a quite damaged nature romp;[16]Le Telegraphiste it appears that a guy catches his wife blowing another guy, but it’s okay because the husband gets a blowjob and some roundeye from the guy;[17]Menage Ultra Moderne gives us another trio of lovers, as does[18]Gisele et le Groom; and[19]Apres la Confession involves a priest and his young (and, surprisingly, female) parishioner getting caught while fooling around and made to pay some kinky penance by the Mother Superior before she engineers a wheelbarrow climax.


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