The Stud / The Bitch (Double Feature) Review
In his recent reviews of Deep Throat and Inside Deep Throat, Gary Couzens revealed the curious nature of pornography in the UK. Long banned, we are familiar with such films as Deep Throat, The Devil In Miss Jones and Debbie Does Dallas but one doubts that they are anything like as widely seen as their reputation would suggest. Even with an R18 rating being available to the examiners, pornography, both hardcore and softcore, remains out of the reach of the general public, as much to do with a lack of interest as the absence of sex shops from the high streets, one assumes. And so, despite knowing the titles of these films as well as the sporting of I Choked Linda Lovelace T-shirts, the uncut films remain largely unseen.
As such, the British public has been getting less-than-happily by with watching Robin Askwith copping a feel of Lynda Bellingham's breasts in an Austin 1100 in the Confessions films, catching a glimpse of pubic hair in a late-night documentary on Channel 4 or finding a copy of Razzle tucked down behind a toilet in the third stall at work. These, however, with the exception of the latter, do not count as pornography but somehow this pair of films from the late-seventies do for, in a way, they're very much our equivalent of Deep Throat and, yet, both The Stud and The Bitch are tame enough to have been shown on ITV during the late-eighties. Indeed, the creator of both, Jackie Collins, was once as familiar a face on afternoon television as Russell Grant, which is not an honour that was bestowed on Gerard Damiano but neither she, her sister Joan nor the cosy disco world that they featured can dim the memory of these having once been Britain's premier skin flicks.
Available together in a two-disc set - they were also released on a single disc some years ago by a different distributor - The Stud and The Bitch feature Joan Collins as Fontaine Khaled whose insatiable desire for both sex and money have her married into the upper classes whilst, at night, jumping into bed with the lower, personified in the first film by her cockney bit of rough, Tony Blake (Oliver Tobias). Being the stud of the title, Blake finds that there are many more women than Khaled who wish to spend a night with him, including various regulars at the club that he operates and Khaled's well-bred stepdaughter. Not even men can resist his pull and at an orgy in Paris organised by Khaled, even her good, male friends find that a drugged Blake makes for good company. Of course, this is not simply pornography, you understand, so there is something of plot in which Khaled owns and operates a club that, so long as Blake remains in favour, he will manage on her behalf. But soon he tires of her demands on him and begins looking for a way out but Khaled decides to hold him to ransom. Blake, though, has other ideas and decides that he will not be going down alone.
And so to The Bitch, filmed a year later, which finds Khaled alone after the vents of The Stud and with her beloved nightclub in trouble. Clearly missing Ben Khaled's (Walter Gotell) fortune and his connections, Fontaine flirts with regular jet setters until she senses the presence of money and lots of it, eventually meeting Nico Cantafora (Michael Coby) on a Boeing 747 bound for London out of New York. But is her club worth becoming involved with Cantafora and the shadier sides of his businesses, including smuggling and illegal gambling? It may not be but Fontaine Khaled is The Bitch and despite Cantafora being a less-than-upstanding member of the business community, one fears that he has more than met his match in Joan Collins. As the title song says, "God help the guy who's got the bitch!"
The first thing to not after this lengthy preamble is that Joan Collins was forty-five when she made these films. That's an age when many other actresses would be happily accepting such roles as the forty-year-old male star's mother, if not his grandmother but for Collins, The Stud marked a turning point in her career. Before this, Collins was a glamourous actress more regularly cast in the gossip and showbiz columns than in films or television whilst Dynasty followed two years after the making of The Bitch, a film that was prophetic in marking out Collins' new territory. Indeed, Dynasty was almost a perfect placing for Collins who, in these films, demonstrates a steely ambition, a sleek glamour but precious little acting ability beyond that which is best placed opposite a character named Dex Dexter.
Neither film is particularly good, at least not how you might look upon a typical film, but they are enjoyably trashy soft porn movies, almost perfect for the sensibilities of the British male in the late-seventies and early-eighties. Most importantly, there are acres of skin, notably Collins', which brings us on to what is, undoubtedly, the reason for the continuing interest in these films. Collins is, without question, a star and has a level of fame that you and I simply could not comprehend. And yet, here she is, topless for much of the time and were it not for being able to proceed frame-by-frame, you would swear that she is nude in the orgy in The Stud - she isn't...she's, ahem, wearing a g-string that's visible in the mirror behind her, which a fact-checking exercise on the Celebrity Nudity Database confirmed. Lastly, there's a plot - a bloody awful plot but one nonetheless that actually does more than move the story between bedrooms.
Typically, the plot in a porn movie is no more complicated than having a naked man dismount his wife to answer the door, his erection bobbing before him, to let in his neighbours, who have apparently crossed their suburban lawn in the nude before all four have sex with one another. They may, at some point, be joined by a third man who appears to have spent the first thirty minutes of the orgy in the kitchen - can you do that in a film, simply wander in? - and depending on the origins of the film, it may end with someone urinating on someone else whilst a frisky looking dog terrifies the female neighbour, who clearly didn't realise that her neighbours had a pet. History, and Boogie Nights, confirms that pornography soon favoured videotape and such films as that described, whilst softcore movies like The Stud and The Bitch fell out of favour.
It would be a pity to forget about films such as these, though. They, like that well-thumbed copy of Razzle, are part of the experience of growing up and although they are remarkably mild compared to what is available, particularly what you can find in seconds on Google, they're naughty enough, I'm sure, to have a single man fumbling with himself on occasion, which is, after all, entirely the point of them.
Neither film has enjoyed a particularly good transfer but I suspect that much of this has to do with the quality of the original prints than any fault on Optimum's side as regards the encoding and the production of the discs. The Stud is rather gritty with too much grain in the image whilst The Bitch has a much sleeker, softer picture. This reflects the original productions quite well with the second film enjoying a bigger budget and, with it, more expensive locations and a noticeably better production. Otherwise, both films are reasonably sharp with good colours but brightness can waver on occasion.
The soundtracks are as good as the picture with a little noise but nothing that prevents one from enjoying the films. Some sounds are, though, muffled and you might be adjusting the sound just to hear some of the lines but, again, I don't think this is Optimum's fault. There are, however, no subtitles on either film, which is Optimum's fault and is something that they could do much better on.
Both discs feature the same set of extras - three trailers, one for each of these films (2m46s, 2m33s) and another for Fanny Hill (2m44s).
Both films are mild enough to have been shown occasionally on ITV, admittedly in their late-night strand of films and dubbed television shows but, again, that's part of their charm. Both were, I believe, shown during 1988/1989 for I clearly remember sitting in a Further Maths A-Level class discussing the swimming-pool orgy in The Bitch with everyone having seen it, including the teacher but with the exception of the one female member of the class.
Those who've grown up with Babecast and the like may snigger at that but the world of the naked female has changed more in the last few years than it did in the previous 5,000. Indeed, The Stud, Razzle and Raymonde's Revue Bar are much closer to hastily drawn pictures of women with large breasts on the walls of caves than they are to women starring in a little box on television who you can telephone for £5/minute to ask them to show their breasts.
I can't, therefore, see that either film will be of interest to anyone who's yet to hit thirty but for those of us who are some years older than that landmark, The Stud and The Bitch will have as many memories flooding back as a trip to the Toy Museum in Stansted Mountfitchet. Very different kinds of memories, I admit, but memories nonetheless.
Last updated: 26/04/2018 03:08:51