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The Sarnos: A Life in Dirty Pictures

The Sarnos: A Life in Dirty Pictures


80 minutes · 2014

The adult films made by Joe Sarno from the late 50s through the 80s are much prized by skinflick fans for their arty direction, their Bergman-inspired psychological drama, and their emphasis, highly unusual at the time, on female pleasure and sexual awakening, with close attention to actresses' breathing, moaning, and facial expressions instead of their crotches. A smut merchant could get away with that sort of Euro-pretense in the 60s, but Sarno had a tougher time negotiating the raunchier hard-core market of the 70s; and by the time Swedish documentary maker Wiktor Ericsson finds him, near the end of his life in 2010, he's trying in vain to win funding for a new film and grasping gratefully at the recognition finally being accorded him by cinephiles. This is worthwhile simply as an introduction to Sarno's work, but it also presents a touching portrait of the 89-year-old artist and his wife, Peggy Steffans, who appeared in his films all those years ago and remains his biggest fan and tenderest friend.

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