Playboy Cinema Collection: Frank And I Review
Frank And I opens with the sight of a man riding through a forest on horseback when he stopped by a sixteen-year-old boy to ask the time. Curious at this boy's story of being an orphan, Charles Beaumont (Christopher Pearson) invites Frank home for dinner and to rest at his home that night. But it is, what with Frank's unbroken voice, blonde bob haircut and breasts barely hidden beneath his too-tight jacket, obvious to everyone but Charles that Frank's a girl. Charles strokes his chin, finishes his meal and says to no one in particular, "I knew instinctively that Frank had not told me the whole truth. But there was something about the boy I liked!" No shit, Charles! Might it be that he's a girl? "I was still puzzled but in a strange way excited. Though, for the life of me, I wasn't sure why!" Oh, Charles, you'll need to get up a lot earlier than that to catch us out, if not stay up all night.
It's been a long day and my right arm is aching but I've finally had a good laugh at all this soft pornography and it comes courtesy of the very confused Charles and his taking little Frank into his care. One wonders if, once upon a time, the likes of Charles might not have put a great deal of effort into his thinking about Frank and simply mounted him regardless, assuming, probably quite rightly, that no one will care a jot for a sixteen-year-old runaway, less so one who is not at all gracious for the care shown to him by Charles. Of course, in time, the truth about Frank comes out and does so when Charles is called upon to punish Frank, doing so by striking the boy across the bare bottom. One isn't at all surprised to find that even when faced with Frank's very feminine bottom, it takes Charles some time to work out the truth, finally realising who he/she is only after Frank turns around to beg for mercy. And yet, even then, one expects the innocent Charles to wonder what kind of ghastly accident has left Frank (Jennifer Inch) as disfigured as he is.
Poor old Charles. As confused as he now is, he leaves for the bed of buxom prostitute Maud (Sophie Favier) but the only one he thinks of is Frank. Or, as she's now known, Frances. Charles doesn't know quite what to do with her, intimating to the audience that, were Frank/Frances a boy, he'd send him to boarding school forthwith. Being as much of a bastard as any member of the aristocracy, Charles beds Frances and forces her to leave for London where, in the home of Mrs Leslie, she is turned to prostitution. Cue Charles waxing his moustache and laughing aloud at Frances' poor fortune...
Except Frank And I doesn't work quite like that. Instead, this is a piece of Victorian erotica and has Charles developing something of an unhealthy obsession with the beating of Frances, all of which seems to stem from that first thrashing he gave her with a piece of willow. There are moments in the film when it loses itself amidst Charles and Frances' nude bodies but in dressing itself up with a story, if not with clothes, there's rather too much of Charles worrying about his beating of Frances amongst his trying to forget it all with his joining Maud and Frances in a threesome after an evening of food and wine in London. Of course, there's nothing surprising in seeing Charles work off his guilt by punishing Mrs Leslie before going home, bending Frances over his bed and beating her across the bare bottom one last time. As much for old times' sake, perhaps, as for making sure that he's over his flirting with bondage.
Frank And I ends well but there's not really enough sex in the film to be of much use to anyone in search of pornography, whilst there's far too much awful acting and softcore arsing about for an audience in search of a decent film. In spite of it being the best of the five films I've watched today, it's the least entertaining, with none of the madness of Ecstasy or Christina and precious little of the, "Oh, go on...have another shag!" plotting of Love Circles. All that one can say in favour of it is that for those with a fondness for very troubled teen starlets, Jennifer Inch bears more than a passing resemblance to Britney Spears, which does nothing for me but might well find it an audience.
Oddly, this actually looks fairly good, being produced on film, coming off a decent source print and being transferred onto DVD with a very acceptable amount of detail. Some scenes are better than others and it's fair to say that darker moments rarely look that good, such as the first time Frank/Frances removes her clothes by the firelight, which is so dimly lit as to leave nothing on the screen but Frances and the roaring fire. Then again, one has to ask where one's attention actually is and whether anyone will be peering into the background when a nude Jennifer Inch is standing in the foreground. Who admires the hearth when you're stoking the fire, etc.
As with the quality of the picture, this sounds the best of the five films I'm working my way through with very little background noise, dialogue and sound effects that are, more often than not, very clear and, other than some atrocious dubbing, might well be as good as a mainstream film. The volume does, on occasion, suddenly increase for no apparent reason and you may, if you're young and watching this in your home without the explicit knowledge of your mother, father or wife, want to keep an eye on that. There are, however, no subtitles.
The only bonus material is a set of Trailers (5m11s) for these Fabulous Films softcore releases, including Black Venus, Christina, Love Circles and Ecstasy.