Radley Metzger (no relation, although I wish he was!) made super slick “European art house” softcore erotica in the Sixties and early Seventies. His high class skin flicks, he said, were philosophically inspired by Orson Welles and Jorge Luis Borges. Decadent feasts for the eyes, visually they seemed influenced by the camera of Michelangelo Antonioni and featured sumptuous soundtracks by composers like Piero Piccioni, Georges Auric and Oscar-winner Georges Delerue. Never before or since has softcore porn been given such a glossy, lustrous, quality art-directed look and feel.
The Lickerish Quartet (“an erotic duet in four players”) from 1970 is one of Metzger’s best. Visually dazzling and sophisticated, it looks like something straight out of a Vogue layout. No less of an expert than Andy Warhol called it “an outrageously kinky masterpiece.”
Beautiful people and beautiful surroundings were key elements in Metzger’s films. The Lickerish Quartet mostly takes place in a lush castle owned by a rich, bored couple. The watch a stag film. Later they go to a carnival and one of the drivers (Silvana Venturelli) in a speed race turns out to be the woman in the movie. They decide to invite her back to their Baroque castle for a party, then humiliate her with the film, except that when they watch it again, she’s not in it. One by one she seduces the father, mother and son. Things are not what they seem.
Previously on Dangerous Minds: