Radley Metzger, 1975
Starring: Darby Lloyd Rains, Levi Richards, Mary Stuart
After The Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann, Naked Came the Stranger is Metzger’s second hardcore film, which he directed under the pseudonym Henry Paris. Naked Came the Stranger is one of Metzger’s finest films and is a great example of his wonderful use of style and humor. Married couple Gilly and Billy have their own radio show together. Gilly learns that Billy is having an affair with their assistant Phyllis. To get revenge, she begins a few affairs of their own with their friends and acquaintances. She spies on Billy and Phyllis and masturbates, then has a few other illicit (and occasionally comic) encounters. This culminates in a successful affair with Phyllis.
Like most of Metzger’s other films, Naked Came the Stranger was inspired by a book of the same name. Allegedly thought to be written by a housewife, the novel was a hoax organized by a group of Newsday journalists intended to make fun of what they perceived as the poor quality of contemporary American literary culture. When the book became a best seller, they revealed the hoax, only making the book more popular.
Though this is a hardcore film, there is not a whole lot of explicit sex. Oral sex is maybe more prominent than it should be, far outweighing scenes of vaginal intercourse. What really makes Naked Came the Stranger stand out is the wonderful humor and strong acting from star Darby Lloyd Rains, who is probably one of the few actresses to give a really solid performance in a porn film. The humor and whimsy that developed in Metzger’s earlier films is on full display here and would continue to be a prominent element of his later hardcore and softcore films. The plot is fast moving and never dallies too far from the sex scenes.
The ‘70s New York set is another delight and by this point in his career, Metzger’s style and camerawork is so refined that it puts other porn films from this era (or any other) to shame. There are a lot of wonderful locations, including a tap dance scene in an empty swimming pool and the mansion where The Great Gatsby was supposedly written. My favorite is probably the sex scene on the second floor of a double decker bus cruising around Manhattan during the daytime, allegedly shot without a permit. Metzger also deftly incorporates sound (and silence) into this film; one inventive scene in particular, shot in black and white, is reminiscent of the silent era of Hollywood.
This isn’t Metzger’s best film, but it is well worth seeing and would provide a great introduction to those new to Metzger or ‘70s erotica. Smart, stylish, sexy, and funny, you could do a lot worse in terms of hardcore films. The wonderful DistribPix has restored and released a special edition version of Naked Came the Stranger, along with releases of some of Metzger’s other films: Maraschino Cherry, The Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann, and one of the best releases in recent memory, a crowd-funded Blu-ray of Metzger’s masterpiece, The Opening of Misty Beethoven. Naked Came the Stranger is an all region release with a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation, English mono and Dolby Digital audio, and subtitles in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Portuguese. The special features make this well worth purchasing. There’s an incredible commentary from Metzger, a number of featurettes, and an impressive 40 page pamphlet with tons of information about the making of the film. Highly recommended.