years with the depiction of sex on the screen. He has made quite a few inserts for foreign films, including work on the (list Bergman movies to arrive in this country. Nehemla was hired by the American distributor to find doubles for the Bergman actors, and insert a nude sequence or extend a sex scene. In the mid sixties, he recalls, a flash of pubic hair was liable to get you arrested. Once, his cameraman accidentally used a wide-angle rather than a close-up lens, and the actress' entire nude body, including her cunt, came out on the film. The processing lab had a fit and refused to handle the film. Today, of course, pubic hair is a fairly common sight on the screen, and the sex filmmakers have moved on to harder territory.
The main point of Making the Blue Film, Nehemia feels, is the contrast in sexual attitudes between the old World War I stag movies and the present generation of blue makers. The old stag films were made for clandestine showing, and rarely is an actress ever identified or a filmmaker's name given. In short, sex and sex movies were still in the closet. The new filmmakers and actresses-like the ones interviewed In this movie- are mote open about sex and unashamed of their work in sex films.
Nehemia spent six months collecting the old stag films-trying to find good ones that had not been included in any other documentary. Most of his material came from private collectors, and some of it is rare indeed. Despite the tact that most of the old footage is in poor condition and does not project well on the screen, it is still delightful to watch. One piece in particular, called The Radio Man, stands out as a gem. It's a 1930's blue movie about a fellow who comes to the house to fix the radio and winds up fucking the horny housewife and her maid with, among other things, his radio tubes.
The contemporary footage was shot in the studio of a young blue filmmaker who was in the process or making hard-core films for mail order. In Blue Film we watch the sexual action going on, talk a good deal with the participants, and see the finished footage that the filmmaker completed. Despite all the fucking and sucking, Blue Movie never loses sight of the fact that sex involves people, not just detached sexual organs. The movie is full of little moments like when an actor can't get an erection.
And of course, throughout the shooting, we hear the filmmaker's directions to his cast. The cast consists of two men and two women, and each of them is interviewed, as well as the filmmaker and the husband of one of the actresses. All of them seem to be free of shame and sexual hang-ups. The young husband, in particular, has a totally accepting attitude about his wife's participation in sex with other men. In fact, given the opportunity, he launches into a whole rap on sexual liberation, it's here that one sees most clearly how sex and sex films are finally coming out of the closet.
The one thing that Jerry Nehemia is upset about is the audience response to his film. He emphasized repeatedly how he tried to include a lot of humor in the film-especially in the sound track. It was all carefully synchronized, the interviews and the music, to comment on the visual image.
He intended the film for sophisticated audiences-the kind of people who went to see I Am Curious (Yellow) when it was first released. But at the World Theatre, 7th Ave. and 49th St., where the film is currently playing, the audience is mostly single men who come to a hard-core film for sexual stimulation. "This audience doesn't go to the movies to laugh." he says regretfully. "They're deadly serious about sex. But sex movies should be fun, and they are when you sit around watching them with fi group of people."