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A movie for every day of the year – a good one

12 March

Ron Jeremy born, 1953

On this day in 1953, the porn star Ronald Jeremy Hyatt was born, in Queens, New York, to a physicist father and a book editor mother. He studied acting and education at Queens College and City University, New York, and went on to become a teacher in special education. His heart lay in acting, so he left teaching to pursue his dream, working in several Off-Broadway productions before starting to supplement his income in porn movies after a girlfriend sent a photo of him to Playgirl. In the days before Viagra, Ron gained a renown for always being able to perform. This, and his work ethic – he’s in the Guinness Book of World Records for most appearances in adult films – gained him the sobriquet “The Hardest (Working) Man in Showbiz”, also the title of his autobiography. He got his other nickname, “the hedgehog”, for other reasons.

Lovelace (2013, dir: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman)

If there is a porn industry fairytale myth, then Lovelace tells it – how the nice sweet virginal girl from nowheresville became a rampaging star in the industry. The film that made Linda Lovelace famous – Deep Throat – told the same story, about a sweet young thing who just happened to have a clitoris in her throat. Hey ho. Lovelace follows Linda (Amanda Seyfried) from chaste Catholic girl from Yonkers, New York, to pole position in the porn biz, telling us how she was picked up by a dastardly svengali (Peter Sarsgaard), groomed by various cheeses in the biz (special mention to Chris Noth as a crappy producer and Hank Azaria as a crappy director), treated fairly badly, then treated badly some more.

Lovelace was the first porn star to cross over and become mainstream enough for Bob Hope to use her as material in his primetime TV routines, and the film has a lock on the look and feel of the era – late 60s/early 70s – catching the clothes, decor and attitudes like a film that’s watched Boogie Nights, which this film is obviously indebted to. If Lovelace the woman eventually called foul, and spent the latter half of her life insisting that she’d been largely hoodwinked into becoming the most visible and famous porn star who had ever existed, then the film essentially calls foul on the 1970s, pointing out that sexual permissiveness was a great thing for men, but lousy for women. Linda’s protestations were always suspect – anything to make a buck, I always thought. And so are the film’s, which claims to be following Linda Lovelace the human being. But though it lists her in the closing credits by her married name, Linda Marchiano, the film is interested in her only as Lovelace the porn star.

Like the plot in a porn film, this aspect of the film is bogus. But it’s pretty good bogus: Seyfried is a wide-eyed wonder as Linda, the support cast is uniformly excellent, and co-directors Epstein and Friedman pull out all the film-school how-to books reconstructing 1970s shooting styles – the dolly shots, filtration, lenses and so on. And did I mention that Seyfried takes her clothes off a lot?

Why Watch?

  • Evokes the 1970s of oysters, cocaine and champagne
  • An unrecognisable Sharon Stone as Linda Lovelace’s mother
  • James Franco just about getting away with it as Hugh Hefner
  • Seyfried’s go-for-broke performance

Lovelace – at Amazon

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© Steve Morrissey 2014

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