Mona: The Virgin Nymph (Michael Benveniste & Howard Ziehm / U.S., 1970):

The schism of pornography -- the physicality on the screen and the passivity of the audience -- fits the contradiction of the title heroine. The first shot establishes the voyeuristic vantage, from behind the bushes the handheld camera fastens onto a necking couple. "The whole nature trip is just so... groovy." "Oh Mona, let me put it in now!" The coitus is interruptus when Mona (Fifi Watson) reminds her beau (Orrin North) that her hymen is to remain unruptured until her honeymoon. A rapacious fellatrix, she pulls down a strangerís polyester pants in an alley and goes to town on his knob; the tip offered afterwards is turned down ("I didnít do it for money! I have a taste for these things"). Why the oral fixation? A flashback shows the pigtailed protagonist servicing faceless olí dad, with the camera panning away from the money shot to frame the rag doll and victrola on a nearby table in a still-life. Michael Benveniste directed the dialogue sequences, Howard Ziehm the screen-filling, pulsating pink abstractions: Much of their work has a disarming directness, like when the mother (Judy Angel) greets her future son-in-law in a camisole and garter belts. Indeed, thereís enough fumbling, unchoreographed passion in Angelís seduction of North to make it unexpectedly moving when a surge of Wagner (Vorspiel) trumpets their climax. The soundtrack is also interesting, especially as it often drowns out the dialogue: harpsichord, ukuleles, electronic dissonance, the disembodied voices of Taylor and Burton as The Taming of the Shrew plays off-screen (the moviegoer in the dark is so rapt that he at first doesnít notice the nympho opening wide next to him). The fable ends with a mock-moral, and the wink of a new genre ("You never know what kind of people are in movie houses nowadays"). With Susan Stewart, Calvin Victor, and Gerald Broulard.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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