|Directed by Chuck Vincent|
Starring Kelly Nichols and Jerry Butler
Plot Summary: On a balmy night in Florida, Jill Travis - a free-spirited young woman - meets an ambitious married man named Andy Whitman (Jerry Butler) and embarks on a brief but explosive affair with him. When Andy must return home, he realizes he is in love and offers to leave his wife for Jill. Insecure but pragmatic, Jill refuses and the two part ways. Over the next twenty years, as their lives continue apart, they go from lofty highs to tragic lows, yet never can forget each other or the love they shared. As an aging, broken man, Andy sets off to find his long-lost lover until a chance meeting changes their lives forever.
(Trailer appears after review.)
Review: In today's world of gonzo bonkfests, silicone-enhanced bombshells and steroid-infused superstuds, modern audiences probably wouldn't know what to make of the films of the late, great Chuck Vincent. Ever the auteur, and quite a character, Vincent was a filmmaker first and pornographer second. He used the genre to tell stories of ordinary people - often in extraordinary situations - and had an eye for spotting genuine talent in the porno pool. Veronica Hart and Ginger Lynn are just two of the many hardcore performers who appeared in Vincent's more mainstream softcore titles. However, even in his adult films, he had a knack for finding the most talented performers to inhabit his characters. His tales were not simply flesh parades. They were well-crafted and demanding emotional pieces which cried out for strong, talented leads. One of those shining lights appears as the lead in In Love.
While the storyline itself (by Henri Pachard, and scripted by Rick Marx and Chuck Vincent) isn't really breaking any new ground, the supporting cast certainly raised the bar and draws us in.
|Samantha Fox (left) taunts Veronica Hart.|
neglected wife - a wife all too aware of her husband's remoteness and infidelities. At a lavish party, Andy
disappears from the room, causing his wife's years of neglect, pain and humiliation to turn finally into angry despair. Hart conveys all these emotions to the viewer without uttering a sound. It's all there on her face, in her eyes, as she scans the room in vain looking for her emotionally-neglectful husband. She knows full well that as she does this he is doubtless in the arms of another woman. It is a shattering performance that no other actress in the world of adult film could ever have pulled off.
Gay porn icon Jack Wrangler appears briefly as one of Jill's many lovers. Wrangler had only recently migrated to straight hardcore films, and he plays his heterosexual character with a stereotypically gay flamboyance. This stark contrast to the mucho-macho types he played in gay cinema was an interesting and amusing acting choice.
The film itself looks gorgeous. Cleverly photographed by the talented and prolific Larry Revene, if you didn't know it was a hardcore film made on a small budget you would never suspect as much. Nearly every shot is a picture postcard. Even the hardcore sex scenes are filmed with restraint and taste, and you'll never wonder if you've accidentally switched over to a gynecology training video.
|Moment of truth.|
In various interviews, both Kelly Nichols and Jerry Butler have said that they had absolutely no chemistry and there was certainly no love lost between them. You would never know that to watch them together onscreen. They don't spend a lot of the film's running time together, but when they do they are electric. I feel very confident in attributing this almost solely to Kelly Nichols. I've seen Butler in other films with actresses he didn't care for and it was always painfully obvious (particularly in sex
scenes.) Not so here. Perhaps it is because his leading lady is possessed of much talent and effortless believability? Her character loves Andy, and Nichols' performance is so convincing that it elevates Butler's lesser abilities.
|Sue Nero and Jerry Butler.|
For all the skill behind In Love, being a hardcore film means quite a bit of character and plot development is eschewed in favor of copious sex scenes. This is tragic in a way. While the sex scenes are nicely shot and fairly erotic, none other than the initial encounter between Jill and Andy give us any insight in to the characters or their motivations. A softcore version was released to theatres under the title Strangers in Love, but that cut simply removed the hardcore without adding any further dimension to the film. But, rather than mourning what could have been, I encourage you to see In Love as a well-crafted, beautifully photographed and brilliantly-acted piece of cinema. It can certainly stand proudly beside better-known classics like Behind the Green Door and The Devil in Miss Jones.
In Love can be a difficult film to track down, even in the Internet age, but the effort is well-worth making. In a film canon as long as his arm, this stands alongside Roommates as one of Chuck Vincent's masterworks.