Director: Stephen Gibson

Yes, it's another plotless excursion into the 3-D sexual universe of Stephen Gibson with BLONDE EMMANUELLE, which is a cut above the two other Pathfinder 3-D releases of his films. It's still filled with stupid innuendo and unsuccessful 3-D "thrills," but the fact that this is essentially a porno version of CASABLANCA makes this a sexy curio more than anything else. Hey, at least this one's got a plot!

Chick (superhung handsome porn legend Mike Ranger, whose biggest role was the incestuous son in TABOO) spots beautiful Emmanuelle (Serena, whom Ranger screwed in a coffin in LUST AT FIRST BITE) from his trusty helicopter and lands for a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am in the hills of California. His problem: she left him limp as a noodle and he can't get it up anymore! Years later, he's running a far-out nightclub called the Disco Doll, where luscious Uschi Digart is the star waitress and a lousy singer croons tunes by the Luscious Luckers (who also contributed music to M 3-D), including one filthy showstopper called "Show 'Em Your Skin"! One night, Emmanuelle saunters into the joint with her new lover, Harry Balls (William Margold, who usually played secondary roles like this when John Seaman was busy). Harry is wanted for embezzling money from the wrong people, and a gay inspector (Con Covert, usually a transvestite in flicks like SCREAM IN THE STREETS and TOUCH OF SWEDEN) comes calling to arrest Balls. Laura (brunette porn vixen Leslie Bovee) is Chick's new love interest, a cheerful gal who's none too happy at the reappearance of Emmanuelle.

BLONDE EMMANUELLE sticks pretty close to its source: the 1943 classic CASABLANCA. Even the lead character "Chick" is an obvious homage to Humphrey Bogart's "Rick!" There remains a semblance of a plot, of course with plenty of sex scenes to keep the audience in their seats. It's too bad the hardcore version of BLONDE EMMANUELLE wasn't presented here, as the sex could have been pretty scorching. What's left is softcore gropings that are pretty erotic, but you still feel like there's something really missing. As of this writing, none of the hardcore versions of any of Gibson's 3-D sex romps have been released to tape, so hopefully an enterprising adult video company (perhaps VCX or Caballero) will jump on the bandwagon and cash in on the successful midnight showings of these cult epics.

First things first: 70s porn aficionados will just eat up this cast! Mike Ranger was one of the most reliable sexual performers of this era, and he often appeared with a typically 70s handlebar mustache in his best films (including ANY TIME, ANY PLACE with Seka). Serena grew up as a homeless girl on the streets who found her way into the adult film industry by a chance encounter with a make up man in the restaurant where she was a waitress. She then became one of the most frequented lead actresses in pornography, and is still one of the most beautiful women to ever grace an adult film. Bill Margold rarely took off his goofy glasses in his films, but you get to see him sans glasses here for a brief second! I prefer John Seaman as far as "everyday Joe" male porn stars go. Leslie Bovee wasn't a big star, but she always looked like a suburban soccer mom who just decided to start having sex on film as a lark. Die Uschi, who has been known to save many a skinflick, is given some of the best comic lines as she throws back one-liners at an obscene phone caller. Look fast for John Holmes, the ugliest man in pornography, in a tiny part (that was undoubtedly larger in the hardcore version, LITERALLY) at an orgy. Other highlights include Con Covert getting whipped by a dominatrix named Salome during his time off, a woman hiding a secret note who swallows it along with someone's...ahem...lovin,' a drunk psychiatrist trying to get to the root of Chick and Emmanuelle's problems (who may even be imaginary!), Serena and Leslie Bovee in a drugged lesbian scene, Uschi in a breast-massaging stairway sex scene with Bill Margold (one of her last, and a scene that does not appear in the hardcore version), a girl who's drowned during coitus, Ranger and Serena making love on a rocky beach, with waves crashing all around them, and lots of quotable crappy dialogue ("You're so rotten your guts stink!"). In other words, there's a good time to be had by all sleaze mavens with BLONDE EMMANUELLE. Surprising, yes, but I still recommend this whacky product of the 70s.

Presented in its original widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1, BLONDE EMMANUELLE looks as good as it's ever gonna. And that isn't good! 3-D expert Stephen Phillips was kind of enough to e-mail me and alert me as to why Stephen Gibson's 3-D films look so strange: they were not shot in the usual 3-D process. All of the 3-D photography was done in-camera, with a camera attachment Gibson himself developed, whereas three-dimension was usually accomplished with a dual camera rig or a split-frame single camera unit. Not too many other filmmakers attempted this, which is a good thing since the film presented this way is just atrocious. The screen is either all red, all green, or somewhere in-between, with a few glimpses of different colors at odd instances, and almost the entire time there are double images of everyone and everything. Inserts shot at a later date are shown flat and in faded color, but it's glaringly obvious what was shot for the R-rated version long after initial production wrapped. You get to see a topless Uschi reaching into the camera, but that's the only 3-D effect I enjoyed (being the hardcore Uschi fanatic that I am). Phillips went on to tell me that he met Gibson at the World 3-D Expo in Hollywood this year, and Gibson decided not to contribute commentaries as he didn't think he'd be interesting enough. I beg to differ. I think that if he was available to explain why the films look as they do, as well as giving names of the obscure cast members of his flicks and explaining the shooting process (reportedly done off-and-on as money came in) and his perspective on shooting softcore and hardcore versions of the same film, the discs would be much better than they are! Stephen Gibson, wherever you are, I want to hear your stories!

The star extra is the feature-length commentary by Bill Margold, who obviously has a great deal of affection for the film. He gives detailed stories of his friendships with co-stars Serena, Mike Ranger, Leslie Bovee, and even Die Uschi (he confirms she NEVER EVER did hardcore) and puts the film into its historical perspective. In 1977, filming hardcore pornography was illegal in California, making the film a risky venture (as were all of the films shot in the 70s in the Sunshine State). Margold claims he gave Mike Ranger that name as his alias and says he discovered Serena. Overall, this is a great commentary on a par with the commentaries on VCA's Radley Metzger/Harry Paris discs, giving plenty of historical tidbits about shooting adult films in the Golden Era and appreciating the films for being a kind of art form, whereas pornography has basically turned into an assembly line industry today. He even names actors who aren't even listed in the credits, finally solving the mystery who just who everybody is, and describes Gibson's strange shooting process! Margold should write a book or contribute to a database listing the correct casts of the classic films of the Golden Age of Adult Films, as his facts and knowledge in this commentary is incredible!

A featurette entitled "Margold's World" follows the current exploits of William Margold, porn legend extraordinaire. He is essentially what he was then: a poor man's Ron Jeremy, given a great deal of press as an important figure in the adult film industry, but who has never really gotten the recognition he should be getting as one of the few surviving and still present golden oldies of porn. Still, he makes up for it today by helping establish adult film star suicide and drug addiction hotlines, providing welfare programs for those in the industry in need, and generally taking care of those who are new and veterans in the industry. Capping off the extras is a very bizarre trailer, with no footage from the film, narrated by a contemporary female voice, and credited to director "Giorgio Ferrari" (!), a very vibrantly colorful stills gallery, and biographies for Margold, Serena, John Holmes, and even a fake one for director "Norm De Plume"! (Casey Scott)