Toned down from
The Sunday Herald
Nearly a century after a group of Parisian prostitutes, moonlighting film
crews and brothel regulars got together to create some of the first porn
films in history, the Gallic skin-flicks have arrived in Britain.
The selection of early French porn called Polissons et Galipettes
(Rascals and Acrobatics), but released in the UK as The Good Old Naughty
Days, was shown in London on Friday and is set to be screened in Edinburgh
later this year. It will also be released nationwide on DVD and video.
Michel Reilhac, the filmmaker who compiled the XXX anthology, even says
that one of the uncredited directors behind one of the short blue movies was
acclaimed French director Jean Renoir. The films were shot between 1905 and
the late 1920s.
While mainstream releases, such as Baise-Moi in 2000 and
2001 have pushed the boundaries in recent years, until now it was legally
impossible to go into an ordinary British cinema or rent or buy an adult
movie from anywhere other than a licensed sex shop which contained scenes
showing erections, penetration or ejaculation.
The Good Old Naughty Days contains all three acts – in spades – even
though the film is black-and-white and silent, apart from tinkly piano
accompaniments. It now has the distinction of becoming the first movie to
receive a R18 classification – until now reserved for sex shop
and sex cinema releases – from the BBFC but go on commercial release in the
But the film pushes even the boundaries of the R18 certificate – as
Good Old Naughty Days contains prolonged scenes of bestiality in which a man
and woman perform with a Highland terrier.
The film leaves little to the imagination and is likely to trigger
protests, especially from the religious community which could be
particularly incensed by a scene featuring “nuns” being spied on by a pair
of voyeuristic “priests”.
Reilhac said the film is a cultural curio which allows us to take a
cheeky peek into the sex lives of our great-grandfathers and
great-grandmothers. I was interested in the historical value of this
material, This project was not designed to attract the usual audience of
Most of the blue movies were shot by film crews on their days off with
the help of local prostitutes and their customers. They clips were mostly
shown in brothels to pass the time for waiting customers. Many later fell
into the hands of collectors of erotica.
The film was screened on Friday at The Other cinema in London, and The
Filmhouse and Cameo cinemas in Edinburgh are considering showing it. Cinemas
will require permission from their local council to air an R18 clip. This
effectively turns a moviehouse into a members-only sex cinema, and buying a
ticket is the equivalent to purchasing temporary membership.
Tartan Films, the company which is releasing The Good Old Naughty Days,
is delighted with the film. Sarah Bemand, the company spokesperson, didn’t
even have a problem with the scenes of bestiality. It’s legal to show it as
the dog isn’t being abused, The dog is involved, but it is having
Bemand said decisions on whether or not the film would be shown in
Britain’s cities depended on “how liberal each council is”, however, the
film will definitely be released on DVD.
Diane Henderson, general manager of the Cameo cinema in Edinburgh, said:
We are considering screening it, but it is not yet in our programme. As
it’s an R-18 we need council permission and we haven’t yet spoken to the
council. But Edinburgh City Council is pretty progressive due to the
Festival. We’d air it as a late-night movie, and if we did screen it we’d
make it clear what it was about. It’s up to the public to decide if they
want to see it. I don’t think this film is as shocking as it is being made
out to be.”
Edinburgh City Council said it could authorise showings of The Good Old
Naughty Days and had released films without official BBFC
classification. They are judged on a case-by-case basis, and if authorised are shown at
appropriate times and places , said a spokesman.
The BBFC says it had passed the film with no cuts.