The Good Old Naughty Days Review
The Good Old Naughty Days (Polissons et galipettes) is a compilation of a dozen pornographic shorts – all black-and-white and silent – made in the first third of the century. The films were intended as “appetisers” shown at brothels. They were often shot on existing film sets during days off, and it’s rumoured that established professionals were behind the cameras for some of them. Certainly some of the films show a surprising technical polish.
Most of the films date from the 1920s (the oldest is from 1905, the newest 1930) and if you were expecting eighty-year-old porn to be tame compared to today’s variety, then think again. This certainly is hardcore, with all manner of acts graphically depicted. Men with women, women with women, men with men…there’s even an orgy where an entirely willing dog takes part. The film ends with Buried Treasure, a short American cartoon from 1925 about a man with a giant penis with a mind of its own. The participants don’t have the trim aerobicised bodies of today’s hardcore stars. Instead, they look like what they are, everyday men and women, with armpit hair and cellulite in evidence, and silicone notable by its absence.
This documentary is best approached as a novelty item for the arthouse crowd, offering an intriguing glimpse into a world you’ve never seen before on screen. If you’re looking for titillation, I doubt you’d get much out of it. (In particular, I doubt many straight men would appreciate the gay male scenes.) And there’s the usual problem that just over an hour of this stuff is more than enough. But it’s an agreeable diversion for the broad-minded.
Note: The Good Old Naughty Days is the first cinema release to carry a R18 certificate, which limits its exhibition to licensed clubs. At the time of writing, it is showing only at The Other Cinema in Rupert Street, London (nearest tubes: Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square). To see the film, you have to become a member of The Other Cinema’s R18 Club at least twenty-four hours in advance or be signed in as the guest of an existing club member. Membership costs £1 for a year. Application forms and copies of the club rules are available at the cinema box office or from the website.