THE FIRST TIME
Color, 1978, 71m.
Directed by Anthony Spinelli
Starring Mimi Morgan, Suzanne French, Sonya Spizer, Joey Silvera, Blair Harris, Jack Wright
Color, 1976, 71m.
Directed by Anthony Spinelli
Starring Linda Wong, Peter Johns, Michael Zarilla, Dory Devon, Christine Kelly, Jeff Lyle, Jon Martin
Vinegar Syndrome (DVD) (US R0 /NTSC) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)
Perhaps the prototypical adult film director of the industry's late '70s/early '80s heyday was the late Anthony Spinelli, who struck gold with films like Talk Dirty to Me, Cry for Cindy, Easy, and Vista Valley PTA. A perfect example of the classy Spinelli treatment is The First Time, whose shimmering opening credits over a woman's lips being made up to a soft pop theme song sets the tone for a soapy sex saga from Essex.
Our heroine is Sue Morris (Mimi Morgan, credited here as "Morga"), first seen in the throes of passion on a bed with familiar '70s star Blair Harris. Suddenly it becomes clear that this is actually a porn film shoot, and they abruptly stop to take a break for a set up change. She claims this is her first adult film despite the fact that she seems unusually comfortable in front of the camera; "You must've had a really dynamite fantasy going," Harris observes before she turns him down for a date. As she relaxes in her dressing room, we find out in flashbacks how she got there, including a turbulent domestic life with Jan (Silvera) who refuses to get a job and expects her phone company wages to carry them through. Naturally that means she has to turn to making dirty movies, and on the set she strikes up a rapport with Jake (Wright), a lawyer who owns the house being used for the film shoot and hosts swing parties twice a week. Sue and Jan decide to check it out, which leads to partner swapping, sapphic experimentation, and a somewhat twisted finale involving drugging and a menage a trois.
An industry vet at the time in films like Pretty Peaches and Femmes De Sade, Morgan wasn't really known as a leading lady but does a fine job here carrying almost all of the big scenes. It's a slick-looking production from top to bottom, certainly not among the most ambitious or groundbreaking films of the era but a perfectly polished entertainment with enough twists to keep things interesting. After a handful of VHS releases, TVX issued this on DVD with inexplicably doctored opening credits which have thankfully been restored on the 2013 Vinegar Syndrome, which also features a drastically superior anamorphic transfer. It looks pristine all the way and ranks with the best of their adult films to date, with the proper framing and far more accurate color scheme adding greatly to the experience.
Also on the same disc is another Essex production from Spinelli, Oriental Baby Sitter, which charts the sexual awaking of Linda Wong. "For an Oriental girl I knew I had rather large breasts," she says of her adolescence, which also includes a forced sexual encounter by a drunk creep who wants to fondle her on his sofa during her first babysitting gig. She soon realizes she's a raging sex fiend and makes out with one of her classmates (Martin) during a night out cruising on the weekend. Then she has a tryst with the man of the house (Lyle) for her next job, Mr. Harris, only for his wife (Devon) to find out and get a turn with her as well. She moves up to a cushy job working for a corporate executive but keeps on babysitting just to keep her, uh, skills sharpened.
That's pretty much it for the plot here, which is held together mainly by Wong narrating to the camera in a dead-eyed monotone. As you can tell from the title, this isn't the most PC film in the world (and the rinky dink Chinese restaurant music over the end credits solidifies that); however, it's still noteworthy as a vehicle for Wong, who holds center stage in most of the sex scenes and became a lasting star as a result of her appearance here. No one else really gets much of a chance to register as Spinelli's camera fixates on her for the majority of the running time, creating a steamy star vehicle whose entire concept is summed up right in its title. (And don't worry, there aren't any kids to be seen for a second in this movie.) Again this was issued from TVX in the past but really comes into its own here; apart from some print damage during the opening logos and a couple of ragged edits here and there, the original elements are in great shape and look like an entirely different film here.
Reviewed on November 10, 2013.