Babyface (Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack)
Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
Released on: February 28th, 2017.
Director: Alex De Renzy
Cast: Rudy Graham, Blair Harris, Carla Harwood, Amber Hunt, John Leslie, Paul Thomas Desiree West, Linda Wong, Molly Seagrim, Lyn Cuddles Malone, Joey Silvera
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One of porno movie pioneer Alex De Renzy’s more notorious feature films, 1977’s Babyface starts off in a high school classroom. Here a student named Priscilla (XXX on timer Lyn Cuddles Malone) flashes her teacher as he sits at his desk. They’re alone in the room and she’s clearly fishing for a good time, but he’s not having any of it and he sends her on her way. Later, she and her friend go strolling around the water front. There they spy a dock worker named Dan (Dan Roberts) and despite her friend’s pleas to stay away, Priscilla teases him. The friend splits and Dan and Priscilla have very consensual sex in his shack, unaware that her mother, Molly (Molly Seagrim), is nearby with the cops in tow. Accused of raping a minor, Dan hightails it out of there but the cop shoots him and he lands in the water. They can’t find his body but presume him to be dead and leave.
Of course, Dan isn’t dead. His body washes up on a riverside where he’s nursed back to health by two beautiful women - Felicia (Amber Hunt) and Annie (Linda Wong) – who later introduce him to The Champ (Kathryn Reed), a woman who runs an all-male brothel called The Training Camp. Soon enough, Dan is indoctrinated into this world, working as a male prostitute alongside fellow man whores Roger (Joey Silvera), Jeff (Paul Thomas) and Edward (Rudy Graham). It doesn’t take long before The Champ’s regular clientele – Shirley (Carla Harwood), Tasha (Sandy Pinney) and particularly Negra (Desiree West) - want a piece of him. This doesn’t sit well with Jeff, as he sees her as his customer, which leads to a scene where Jeff rapes her and verbally abuses her with some shocking racial epithets! While all of this is going on, a famous fashion model named Miranda (Kristine Heller) brings her insatiable lust for sex to The Training Camp while rumors of an infamous customer known only as ‘The Nut Cracker’ have Dan and all the other guys a little bit on edge.
Babyface is quite well made. The storyline is surprisingly strong, dealing with more than just the whole older man/younger woman kink that it was clearly trying to cash in on (and in fact it reserves that angle in an amusing scene with Silvera roleplaying as a high school basketball player for Carla Harwood). The movie also works in some light BDSM and a few other kinks before it finishes with a giant orgy and then, of course, the payback due Dan that we all knew was coming. The script is actually quite funny, with no one really seeming to take any of this all that seriously, and for a movie that clocks in at over an hour and forty-five minutes (quite long by seventies porn standards) it is remarkably well paced and never overstays its welcome.
The cast are quite good here. While obviously Malone, in her only feature film appearance, is the main draw. The marketing materials for the film all revolved around her and her ‘young’ appearance. She was reportedly twenty when she made the picture and she looks about that, until De Renzy has her all dolled up in her schoolgirl outfit and has her play up the whole ‘innocent little girl’ aspect of her character in a big way. She does it quite well, with a naughty gleam in her eye and a bounce in her step. The story revolves more around Dan Roberts’ character, however. He’s quite fun as the male lead. The guy is pretty massive too, very tall, but in a friendly sort of way. The back and forth between he and Thomas and Silvera can be pretty amusing and hey, who can complain about seeing Linda Wong, Amber Hunt, Kristine Heller and lovely Desiree West get solid supporting roles? It’s also interesting to note that the role that Molly Seagrim plays was originally intended to go to Marion Eaton of Thundercrack! fame until she backed out. Seagrim bares a pretty strong resemblance to Eaton, particularly when she’s made up as she is in this picture.
Vinegar Syndrome release Babyface on Blu-ray on a 50GB disc that presents the movie in 1.85.1 widescreen in a transfer taken from a new 2k scan of 35mm vault elements that are essentially pristine save for some irreparable water damage that pops up for a few minutes during the fifth reel. You can see it in screencap #15 below. Aside from that, this is an excellent picture. Colors are nice and natural, letting all that late seventies fashion really pop, while skin tones look nice and natural. There’s no evident of any noise reduction nor are there any problems with compression artifacts. Aside from the water damage the picture is surprisingly clean and it shows very strong detail and texture. This blows the old DVD releases from VCX, Alpha Blue Archives and TVX out of the water.
The only audio option for the feature is an English language DTS-HD Mono track, and it too is of good quality. There isn’t a ton of depth here but the dialogue is plenty easy to understand and follow while the score sounds quite good. There are no issues with any hiss or distortion and the levels are properly balanced from start to finish.
The main extra on the disc is an audio interview with Molly Seagrim who speaks for almost seventy minutes to Casey Scott about how she got into the adult film business after moving from Florida to San Francisco with her sister. She then talks about her marriage to adult film director Zachary Strong about their work together, getting in front of the camera for some Mitchell Brothers product, how she came to work with De Renzy on this and other pictures, her interactions with many of the co-stars she shared the spotlight with on this picture and quite a bit more. This is a very interesting piece and well worth taking the time to listen to.
Aside from that, the disc also includes a twelve minute short directed by De Renzy called Parochial Passion Princes that follows a schoolgirl (Justine Taylor) as she heads out to visit her teacher (David Book) at his house. Hardcore hanky-panky ensues and when it’s done, she clearly got what she wanted and so she splits. Nice picture quality on this, it’s also presented in high definition and it looks great. Animated menus and chapter selection are also included and as this is a combo pack release, we also get a DVD version of the movie included in the clear Blu-ray keepcase. It’s also worth noting that this release comes packaged with some slick reversible cover art.
The Final Word:
Babyface is top notch smut. A product of its time to be sure, and not in the least bit concerned with political correctness, it is nevertheless very well acted, beautifully shot and skillfully directed. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray is a thing of beauty – you can basically toss any older editions you’ve had of this in the trash – and it rightly presents the film completely uncut.
Click on the image below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!
alex de renzy,
lyn cuddles malone,
paul thomas desiree west,
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