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I know it's a stretch to even draw this comparison, but: the justly forgotten "Love Scenes" reminds me of the 1973 Oscar winner "Day for Night." Francois Truffaut's classic was about the comedies and tragedies involving a movie crew, and part of the joke was that the movie the crew was so dedicated to making was obviously a melodramatic piece of junk; it was, rather, the real-life story of the director (played by Truffaut himself) and his cast and staff that engaged us. In Bud Townsend's 1984 "Love Scenes," a director and his actress-wife are making an erotic piece of junk and it's hard to tell the difference between the film-within-the-film and the melodramatic film Townsend is making.
"Love Scenes" was made for the young Playboy Channel and it fills the bill for nudity and softcore sex. The film (whose actual on-screen title is "Ecstasy") centers on a young director, Peter (Franc Luz), whose latest work has just won the "critics' prize," making him a hot commodity in Hollywood. Peter has a script he'd very much like to direct next, only it's a bit on the erotic side and his producer, Sidney (comedian Jack Carter, perpetually chomping an unlit cigar), is hesitant to go ahead. He'll produce it, though, if Peter can convince his wife, Val, a well-regarded actress, to star in it. That way it will be seen as serious art, not exploitation.
The beautiful Val (Tiffany Bolling) is shy about doing erotica, but quickly caves -- she also succumbs without much objection to posing nude for a magazine photographer (Britt Ekland) who lurks around her house and the movie set. As their production, titled "Lovescene," proceeds, the pushover Val falls for her handsome co-star, whose love-making skills put her minute-man husband to shame. Tension builds between Peter and Val, if not for the viewer.
Peter's directing style is also of the wham-bam variety; in several of the scenes we see being shot, Peter, who apparently never heard of rehearsals, does one take, shouts "Cut -- print it" and leaves the set. This quick, money-saving approach also should have earned "Love Scenes' " director the sobriquet One-Take Townsend. In two outdoor scenes actors' voices are nearly drowned out by airplanes flying overhead, and in one of those scenes Bolling trips, unscripted, on a chair as she storms away. Townsend just keeps rolling.
Bolling was something of a cult favorite in the late 1960s and early '70s thanks to sexy parts in the Frank Sinatra crime drama "Tony Rome," the proto-"Lost" TV series "The New People," and B pictures like "The Centerfold Girls," "Wicked, Wicked" and "The Candy Snatchers," as well as a Playboy magazine spread in 1972. By 1984 she was in her late 30s but still lovely; she is frequently topless here but voyeurs will want to especially linger over these minute marks in the film: 0:57, 1:08 and 1:17.
Julie Newmar, TV's greatest Catwoman, appears as a former actress turned screenwriter whose first script is "Lovescene." While a stunning beauty, Newmar's character is a prude who worries about the sexual improvisation going on in her movie. She scolds the director, "Peter, you're playing God," and as the camera cuts to Franc Luz's reaction shot, we hear her add, "What you're really doing is jerking off." But that last remark doesn't sound like Newmar's voice; perhaps the actress, who 30 years earlier danced in the wholesome "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," refused to say something so vulgar on screen. (It's also possible it's Val's voice that Peter is imagining, but if that's the case, the filmmakers have gone about it in a sloppy way.)
"Love Scenes" continues the lamentable practice of so many slipshod movies about moviemaking: when we watch a scene being shot, what we're shown is the finished product -- edited, color-corrected and scored -- rather than the rawer reality of actors just speaking lines on a set.
While the movie is reasonably well-photographed, some indoor scenes are so dark you can barely make out the actors' expressions. And when not overwhelmed by those jet engines, the actors' voices often sound echo-y. All of which will matter little to those who come for the naked chicks.
This Private Screening Collection release is a down-and-dirty DVD. The picture transfer, in full-frame (1.33:1), is probably as good as this thing could ever look and is free of debris and scratches. The sound, for what it's worth, is mono doctored up with Dolby Digital. The main menu, with a still photo of a topless Tiffany Bolling, offers simply "Play Movie" and "Chapter Selection" options. The movie is divided into a generous 16 chapters, each accompanied by a still shot. An interview or commentary by the long-unseen Bolling would have been nice, but no such luck -- and no extras at all.
Perhaps in the hands of an enterprising, archaelogical outfit like Blue Underground or NoShame Films, this subpar piece of '80s erotica could have been a decently enhanced artifact instead of just a movie-only disc. Fans of Tiffany Bolling: knock yourselves out. The rest of the world can safely pass on this underwhelming DVD.