Color, 2003, 87m.
Directed by Tinto Brass
Starring Sara Cosmi, Massimiliano Caroletti, Andrea Nobili, Silvia Rossi, Max Parodi, Virginia Barrett, Angela Ferlaino
Cult Epics (Blu-Ray & DVD) (US R0 HD/NTSC), CVC (Italy R2 PAL), Arrow (UK R0 PAL) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9) / DD2.0, Umbrella (Australia R0 PAL), OB Films (France R2 PAL), Filmfreak (Holland R2 PAL) / WS (1.78:1)


In 1995, erotic/experimental filmmaker Tinto Brass decided to dabble in the anthology format Privatewith P.O. Box Tinto Brass, a dramatization of letters supposedly sent to him by rambunctious viewers. The film turned out to be his last feature for three years, and four years later he returned to the idea with an ongoing video series called Tinto Brass Presents Erotic Short Stories, a not-bad collection of tales by other directors done in the Brass style. Apparently the concept tickled him so much that he returned to it again in 2003 with Fallo!, a saucy omnibus retitled Private for the English-speaking market. (The Italian title was more literally translated at first as Do It!) As with several of his past features, multiple versions were issued over the years on video, creating a great deal of confusion over which edition could even be considered definitive.

Dispensing with anything resembling a common theme or historical context, Brass offers up six comedic/sexy tales of interchanging lovers in a variety of ordinary settings ranging from bedrooms to steam rooms to kitchens to that usual Brass standby, the beach. First up, "Alibi" depicts a couple's anniversary vacation in Morocco which turns kinky when a spying bellboy is invited to join in on their boudoir activities. Then in the most structurally elaborate, "Double Trouble," two pairs of spouses switch partners (at the office and after a tennis match), Privatethen resolve everything in a cheeky fashion that night. "Two Hearts and a Hut" takes a page from Brass' Senso 45 with its dark and stylish visuals, but otherwise it doesn't make a whole lot of sense as a young chambermaid earns some spare cash playing around with a married couple but finds her not-as-kinky boyfriend a bit upset. In "Jolly Bangs," a topless wife at a beach gets her husband worked up by telling him about her past dalliances, and "Evil to Him Who Thinks Evil" finds a reluctant engaged woman overcoming her phobia of backdoor lovin' by getting a hands-on demonstration from another couple. Finally, "Call Me a Pig, I Like It!" follows a married couple whose voyeuristic neighbor's activities are a naughty little secret -- or are they? Private

Despite the graphic imagery and wider-than-usual variety of body types and ages, Private feels very much like the kind of movie you'd stumble on late at night on TV during the '80s; the goofy humor and genial sex scenes have a strangely innocent charm, even when the participants are flinging their legs apart for the camera. None of the actors really gets to make a tremendous impression in their limited screen time, but Brass keeps things bubbly and pleasant enough from start to finish. The colorful photography by Federico Del Zoppo in his only Brass outing is impeccable as usual, with the director's penchant for oddball framing and colorful interior decor making this several cuts above your average Euro sex flick. The one area where it really stumbles is the rinky dink music score by Francesco Santucci, which pales in comparison to other Brass scores by the likes of Pino Donaggio, Ennio Morricone, and Riz Ortolani.

Now here's where things get confusing. Private was released in a significantly cut edition outside of Italy in what eventually became known as the "producer's cut," which substitutes a few softer angles for some shots and omits an unsimulated oral sex scene involving porn actor Andrea Nobili in the second story. (As usual, Brass uses hilariously phony prosthetics for male members throughout the rest of the film.) The reason for this jolting switch from his usual modus operandi in this one scene has never really been Privateexplained, and it's always stuck like a... well, sore thumb, at least. In any case, this stronger version was only prepared in Italian, while the English-dubbed cuts have always been the softer cut. In 2003, Cult Epics issued two DVD versions: the Italian-language "director's cut" with optional English subtitles as well as the alternate "producer's cut" version in English. Either way, the DVD also includes an 18-minute "making of" featurette with Brass and the actors cavorting and preparing for each of the sequences (carried over from the Italian DVD edition), plus trailers for Cult Epics' other Brass releases and two photo galleries, one mildly suggestive and the other something you'd never be able to show at work.

Considering how mistreated he was on home video for decades, it's surprising how well Brass has been represented on Blu-Ray; it was inevitable that this one would make an appearance after Cult Epics' prior HD upgrades for Cheeky! and Monamour, while other companies have represented him with Salon Kitty (Anchor Bay), Caligula (Image), and The Key and All Ladies Do It (Arrow). The transfer of this one is a major improvement across the board, with much more natural flesh tones, a considerable amount of extra detail, and much more film-like textures than the gritty, oversharpened SD version (which also digitally oversaturated the colors across the board). The release is billed as uncut, which is true as far as the English version goes; however, the 20 seconds or so of sword swallowing are absent, which will probably prove to be a point of contention among fans. Like most of his other films this one has a somewhat soft, gauzy veneer most of the way through, so don't expect an overly crisp look here; however, it's easily a major leap up and much easier to appreciate than before. Both the original Italian audio and the English dub (with optional English subs) are included in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0, which in this case isn't that much of a loss considering the underwhelming nature of the score. The source here is an English-language film element (bearing the Do It! title), which means the story titles are all shown with English text cards along with sometimes very different translations given below (especially "Double Trouble"). Extras include the making-of featurette (upconverted but still 4:3 and looking the same) along with the trailer and the dirtier one-minute gallery.

Reviewed on June 20, 2013.