From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
- farce, comedy of manners, burlesque, bawdy, sexual humor, bedroom farce
- British sex comedy films, commedia erotica all'italiana, screwball comedy, erotic cinema
Sex comedy is a vague term for comedies with sexual content. They may range from comic pornographic films to relatively innocent romantic comedies that include jokes about sex and other sexual related humor. They are indebted to ribaldry, the burlesque and the picaresque. They are most readily associated with British films of the mid 1970s. The best-known sex comedy movies of the 1970s are Confessions of... films starring Robin Askwith, Adventures of... films and the Carry On films.
Great Britain: Confessions of..., Adventures of... and The Carry On films
The precursor to British sex comedies was Norman Wisdom's last starring role to date, What's Good for the Goose, made in 1969 by Tony Tenser. He specialised in producing exploitation films and founded his own production company Tigon British Film Productions in 1966. In the movie, he leaves his wife and kids to go off on a business trip and has an affair with a young girl played by Sally Geeson
There apparently are two versions of the film, one being an uncensored version (105 minutes versus the cut 98 minute version), which shows nudity from Sally Geeson; this version has never been available commercially.
Percy stars Elke Sommer and Britt Ekland. The film was followed by a sequel, Percy's Progress. The film is about a successful penis transplant. An innocent and shy young man (Bennett), whose penis is mutilated in an accident and has to be amputated, wakes up after an operation to find out that it has been replaced by that of a womanizer, which is very large. The rest of the movie is about its new owner following in his predecessor's footsteps and meeting all the women who are able to recognize it.
To move with the times, the Carry On series added nudity to its saucy seaside postcard innuendo. Series producer Peter Rogers saw the George Segal movie Loving and added his two favourite words to the title, making Carry On Loving the twentieth in the series. Starring "countess of cleavage" Imogen Hassall, the story of a dating agency service is still very innocent stuff. It was followed by Carry On Girls, based around a Miss World-style beauty contest. Next in the series was Carry On Dick, with more risque humour and Sid James and Barbara Windsor's on and off screen lovemaking.
Italy: Pink neorealism or commedia erotica all'italiana
It has been said that after Umberto D. nothing more could be added to neorealism. Whether because of this, or for other reasons, neorealism effectively ended with this film. Following works turned toward lighter atmospheres, perhaps more coherent with the improving conditions of the country, and this genre has been called pink neorealism. It was this filone that allowed better "equipped" actresses to become real celebrities: the encouraging figures of Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, Silvana Pampanini, Lucia Bosé, Barbara Bouchet, together with other beauties like Eleonora Rossi Drago, Silvana Mangano, Claudia Cardinale, and Stefania Sandrelli populated the imaginations of Italians just before the so-called "boom" of the 1960s. Soon pink neorealism was replaced by the Commedia all'italiana (Italian Comedy Style), a unique genre that, born on an ideally humouristic line, talked instead very seriously about important social themes.
United States: the screwball comedy
The screwball comedy is a subgenre of the comedy film genre. It has proven to be one of the most popular and enduring film genres. It first gained prominence in 1934 with It Happened One Night, and although many film scholars would agree that its classic period ended sometime in the early 1940s, elements of the genre have persisted, or have been paid homage to, in contemporary film.
While there is no authoritative list of the defining characteristics of the screwball comedy genre, films considered to be definitive of the genre usually feature farcical situations, a combination of slapstick with fast-paced repartee, and a plot involving courtship and marriage or remarriage. The film critic Andrew Sarris has defined the screwball comedy as "a sex comedy without the sex."
The screwball comedy has close links with the theatrical genre of farce, and some comic plays are also described as screwball comedies. Many elements of the screwball genre can be traced back to such stage plays as Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It and A Midsummer Night's Dream and Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. Other genres with which screwball comedy is associated include slapstick, situation comedy, and romantic comedy.
Latin America: The films of Armando Bo and Isabel Sarli
Towards the mid to late 1960s, directors such as Armando Bo produces a high number of sex comedies many of which shocked the audience as they were a from of soft porn and displayed a controversial degree of nudity and sex not seen in the industry before. This preference continued into the 1970s, with Jorge Porcel's suggestive comedies. Self-deprecating and unflappable, Porcel's well-meaning, weak-willed "everyman" played the perfect foil to Alberto Olmedo's fastidious tee-totaller, spinning this time-honored comic formula into a string of hits between 1973 and 1988.
Pornochanchadas were initially produced in the downtown quarter of São Paulo that was nicknamed "Boca do Lixo" ("Garbage Mouth"). The genre was usually seen as a part of low-budget films produced there, collectively known as cinema da Boca ("movies of the Mouth"). Later, there were productions in Rio de Janeiro as well, creating the sub-genre pornochanchada carioca, which was to find its star in Alba Valeria during early 1980s.
Pornochanchadas were generally in line with "sex comedies" produced in other countries, but also featured some Brazilian peculiarities. The prominent actresses were Helena Ramos, Matilde Mastrangi, Aldine Müller, Sandra Bréa, Nicole Puzzi, Monique Lafond, Nádia Lippi, Patrícia Scalvi, Rossana Ghessa, Zilda Mayo, Zaíra Bueno, Kate Lyra, Vanessa Alves, Meire Vieira, Adele Fátima, and Marta Anderson. After the end of the pornochanchada era, they moved to telenovelas and/or more mainstream genres of cinema. Actresses like Vera Fischer and Sônia Braga have also appeared in pornochanchadas. The most popular actors were David Cardoso (presented as the symbol of Brazilian machismo, who was also a director and the owner of the production company Dacar) and Nuno Leal Maia. Among the distinguished directors of the genre were Ody Fraga, Tony Vieira and Jean Garret.
Barbarella, also known as Barbarella, Queen of the Galaxy is a 1968 sex comedy film, based on the French Barbarella comic book created by Jean-Claude Forest. It has gained a cult following since its re-release in 1977 on home video, and has had considerable influence on pop culture in the decades following its original release.
- Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969)
- The Libertine (1969)
- Cry Uncle! (1971) - John G. Avildsen
- Sex-shop (1972) - Claude Berri
- Tarzoon, shame of the jungle (1975)
- Sex is Comedy (2002) - Catherine Breillat