Radley Metzger, 1977
Starring: Annette Haven, C.J. Laing, Constance Money, Jamie Gillis
Nothing can compare to Metzger’s masterpiece, The Opening of Misty Beethoven, but his somewhat surreal follow up film, Barbara Broadcast, ranks as my second favorite Metzger work and still has plenty to surprise and delight viewers. A reporter meets up with a famous, high class prostitute at a New York restaurant to interview her. Like Misty’s character in Misty Beethoven, Barbara Broadcast enjoys sex work and has written a book on the subject. It turns out during their luncheon that food is not the only thing on the menu and the reporter gets to know herself - and Barbara - much better than she anticipated during the course of the day.
There are some fantastically imaginative elements in Barbara Broadcast, particularly during the opening scene in the restaurant. Like Metzger’s sexual airplane service in Misty Beethoven, there are a number of unexpected things on the menu, such as lots and lots of oral sex, as well as a “special sauce” your waiter could prepare right in front of you. The restaurant scenes make the film more than worthy of your time. There is a fair amount of sex throughout, all of it pretty standard and heterosexual, except the affair between Barbara and the reporter (in a disco) at the end of the film and the concluding non-hardcore bondage scene.
Porn legend Annette Haven is perfect in the starring role and is easily one of the most beautiful women in ‘70s porn, though C.J. Laing is also quite good (and adventurous) as the naive reporter. Constance Money and Jamie Gillis, stars of Misty Beethoven, appear again here as a pimp named Curly and his number one lady. Their erotic bondage scene at the end of Barbara Broadcast was actually a leftover shot from Misty Beethoven. This technique of including extra sex scenes shot elsewhere gives Barbara Broadcast - and Metzger’s final films in general - a choppy feel that is somewhat rescued by smooth editing techniques but fails to rise to the level of his classics like Misty Beethoven, The Image, and Naked Came the Stranger.
Barbara Broadcast is incredibly raunchy, funny, and erotic, with a decent script, though characterization doesn’t quite reach the excellent level seen in Misty Beethoven and the plot relies mostly on a series of sexual vignettes. The cinematography and sets are beautiful, as always, giving this film more of an art house feel than most ‘70s porn. There’s a basic VCA DVD release, though I would wait for the upcoming Distribpix Blu-ray, which will be restored under the watchful eye of Metzger himself and will probably be chock full of extras. The VCA extras include a commentary track with Jamie Gillis and another porn legend, Gloria Leonard, who would star in Metzger’s next and last hardcore film, Maraschino Cherry, but does not appear in Barbara Broadcast. Mostly Gillis and Leonard give an informative talk about the adult film industry and their work with Metzger.