Only the most foolhardy of mortals would attempt a plot summary of this film, and I’m not quite that crazy. This is Tinto Brass’s 1969 effort, coming between 1967’s Deadly Sweet and 1970’s The Howl. The former is a mad, pop-culture collage of noir elements, while the latter is a hallucinatory picaresque. This one is the most plot-free of the the lot. The original title is Nerosubianco, an untranslatable pun that combines “black on white” with the word “eros” (Attraction – note the word contains “action” – is an honorable attempt, and better than the theatrical title of “The Artful Penetration of Barbara,” which is what appears on the screen here, with the new name showing up as a subtitle), and that’s about as much as can be summarized: this is an interracial romance. Beyond that, we have an exercise in pure formalism, an eye-popping collection of images and incidents as abstract as they are psychedelic.
Things obviously don’t get much more 60s than this, and, for that very reason, this pic isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste. I will confess to preferring Deadly Sweet, with a narrative that is at least recognizable as such, and I’m not sure what point Brass is making with his clip from Un Chien Andalou, other than perhaps to prove he’s seen it, but I still find this a reminder of just how energetic a filmmaker Brass can be.
Unlike the other two vintage Brass releases from Cult Epics, this one is the first of a “Radley Metzger Presents,” and the source material is a 16mm print owned by the legendary director of high-end erotica. We can appreciate the rarity of the film, and the fact that it is now available, but the print is in rougher shape than those for Deadly Sweet, and The Howl. There is a fair bit of grain, and the image is quite soft. Some shots are very rough indeed. The colours are okay, but no more. The picture is watchable, certainly, and it’s doubtful that one could expect anything better, but perfectionists take note.
The mono sound is in line with the picture, more or less. It’s fine, and the dialogue is clear, but exceptional it is not. Nor should one expect it to be. Basically, if you’re fine with the picture, you’ll be fine with the sound.
Lobby Card Galler.
A valuable release, as Cult Epics moves closer and closer to having the complete Tinto Brass filmography available. Interesting stuff, too, though it also conforms to just about every idea of pretentious 60s cinema one might have.