Friday, July 14, 2017

A Touch of Glamour

OK, I've talked about 'Glamour Shorts' here before, usually when discussing those cut down 8mm versions of feature films which, until the advent of VHS, were the only type of home cinema available to most people.  Well, the 'Glamour Shorts' were their naughtier cousins.  Unlike the 8mm feature films, these were original productions and were, I suppose, the logical extension of 'stag movies'.  These shorts could be bought (mainly via mail order) and viewed in the privacy of one's own home.  Provided you had an 8mm projector, of course.  That was the thing about the old days of porn - you had to have a degree of technical competence if you wanted to watch it.  It isn't as simple as shoving a cassette or DVD in the player or, as it is today, clicking on a link.

These shorts could vary enormously in quality and format.  Budgets, or a lack thereof, dictated that many of them were in black and white and silent.  In their simplest form, they just featured a model stripping.  Some, however, aspired to greater artistry and featured story lines and multiple performers. The example presented here is the product of Harrison Marks, a legendary figure in British sex movies who can probably lay claim to having originated 'Glamour Shorts' back in the late fifties.  A Touch of History is from the sixties and presents its story in the form of a classic silent movie, featuring not just inter titles, but also the sort of make up and performances which characterised such movies.  From the care that has gone into recreating this look, it seems apparent that Marks, who also features in the film, was clearly a lover of classic cinema (as, indeed, were many others involved in British sex films).  Marks eventually graduated to directing features in the sex genre, eventually working with the likes of Mary Millington.  I could write reams about his remarkable life and career, but if you are interested in this, then I'd advise you to buy a copy of his biography, which is being reprinted (complete with foreword by friend of Sleaze Diary Gav Crimson).

As for the film itself,, at this distance in time it seems quaintly charming, rather than erotic or titillating.  Even in the sixties, I doubt that anyone watching it would be depraved or corrupted any more than they would have been by viewing a 'What-Butler-Saw' machine on a seaside pier.  Of course, even at the time of its release, shorts like this were rapidly being overtaken by more 'mainstream' media in terms of their content.  the Carry On films and their ilk, for instance, would quickly present similar 'sauciness' as family fun, whilst TV was inexorably pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable to have beamed into your living room.  As it stands, A Touch of History and the many other 'Glamour Shorts' currently available on You Tube offer a reminder of a time when erotica was strangely innocent, when the sight of lady getting undressed was considered sufficient.  It was also a time when the models, although very attractive, all had that non-glamourous, girl-next-door look to them.  Which, of course was the point of these 8mmshoerts: not only could you view them in your own home, but they presented the kind of girls you might realistically meet. 

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