Radley Metzger, 1978
Starring: Gloria Leonard, Lesllie Bovee, Jenny Baxter, Annette Haven, Constance Money, C.J. Laing
Metzger’s last hardcore film, which he directed under the pseudonym Henry Paris, is a stylish but lesser effort, particularly compared to his masterpiece The Opening of Misty Beethoven. The titular Maraschino Cherry is the madame of a very fancy brothel in New York City. Her younger sister arrives and announces that she, too, wants to be part of the business, so Cherry begins to teach her everything she knows. Much of the film is made up of exchanges with clients at the brothel or reflects back on stories that have happened with some of their more interesting clients.
High Society publisher and porn legend Gloria Leonard stars, though there are nice appearances from Lesllie Bovee (The Ecstasy Girls), Annette Haven (star of Metzger’s previous film Barbara Broadcast), C.J. Laing (Barbara Broadcast), Constance Money (star of The Opening of Misty Beethoven), Wade Nichols (Jail Bait, Barbara Broadcast), prolific porn actor Eric Edwards, and Jenny Baxter (Bloodsucking Freaks) as Cherry’s sister. Though all of these talented, experienced actors deliver good performances, they cannot overcome the incomplete script. One of the main issues with Maraschino Cherry is that many of the scenes - particularly those with Annette Haven, C.J. Laing, and Constance Money - were outtakes from some of Metzger’s previous films and were cut in to fill in the running time of Maraschino Cherry. Though a lot of these vignettes are sexy and entertaining, this doesn’t feel like a complete film, particularly considering that most of Metzger’s hardcore films have such strong narratives. Still, it’s great to see Annette Haven’s lovely piano-top scene and C.J. Laing’s final moments in a dungeon.
I’m not sure if I should recommend Maraschino Cherry. It is certainly not among Metzger’s best films, but it is more entertaining and well-made than the bulk of ‘70s porn. It has Metzger’s trademark humor, witty dialogue, stunning visuals, and imaginative sets. It also has an abundance of blow jobs, but lacks Metzger’s typical sexual variety. There are still a few key moments, such as a man who orgasms every time he sneezes, the dungeon scene that concludes the film, and a few lesbian scenes that save this from being a total waste of time. If you've not seen any Metzger films, definitely don't start here, but Metzger fans and '70s porn completists will want to check it out.
Distribpix has released this as part of their Platinum Elite series, which is a two-disc collection. The print has been restored from the 35mm negative and looks as good as it probably ever well. There are a number of nice extras, such as an interview with Gloria Leonard, trailers, stills, some extra scenes, and a booklet from Benson Hurst. Distribpix always does a great job with their releases, particularly of Metzger’s work.