Color, 1971, 88 mins. 53 secs.
Directed by Wim Verstappen
Starring Hugo Metsers, Kees Brusse, Carry Tefsen, Ursula Blauth, Helmert Woudenberg, Ine Veen
Cult Epics (Blu-ray & DVD) (US R0 HD/NTSC)

Continuing Blue Movieits fascinating explorations of button-pushing Dutch exploitation classics like Frank and Eva and Obsessions, Cult Epics delivers the Blue Moviemost notorious erotic film of its era, Blue Movie, produced by the director of those other films, Pim de la Parra. More notably, this was one of the earliest films shot by none other than Jan de Bont, who would go on to shoot Die Hard and numerous Paul Verhoeven films before directing Speed and Twister. Needless to say, this is a very different kind of project for him.

Released on parole after five years in jail for a "social offence," Michael (Frank and Eva's Metsers in his theatrical debut) is set up with an apartment and enough money to get by that he can pay off after he gets a job. With his love for denim and enormous sideburns, he proves irresistible to the opposite sex-- which turns out to be handy when his new apartment building turns out to be a hotbed of free-spirited, lusty young women. Michael's very attentive parole officer, Eddie (Woudenberg), cautions him against tangling with dangerous women, but that doesn't stop him from peeping on his married neighbor, Elly (Blauth), and socializing with German emigree Marianne (Tefsen), whose famous zoologist husband Bernard (Brusse) doesn't seem to have conventional ideas about sex. Michael finds the world greatly changed with the advent of open pornography, miniskirts, and freer sexual practices, with everyone running around asking their neighbors for cups of sugar as a pretext for sex. Blue MovieHe also has his eye on pretty single mom Julia (Veen), whom he's told is off limits, and has to figure out how to get a job to impress the parole board... when he isn't busy having threesomes and having impromptu sex in the building's elevator. Of course, Blue Moviethe solution to his problems ties in directly with the title of the film itself...

Despite its massive success in the Netherlands, Blue Movie was barely exported anywhere else and never earned a release in the U.S., with only the slightly less explicit Turkish Delight making inroads there in 1974. Part of the issue may have been the level of nudity (with Metsers seen at length in different degrees of excitement in multiple key scenes) as well as the fact that Andy Warhol had already caused a splash with his own film of the same name in 1969, which played the underground circuit and featured (sort of) unsimulated sex. That left this one in kind of a netherworld between the art house and softcore markets, with some imagery too hot for cable TV even in the '80s; that said, it's surprising that a label like Private Screenings at least didn't snap it up back in the day. The film manages to stay just under the line from crossing over into pornography (though some magazines on display definitely cross it), with some socially redeeming content in the form of Brusse's character (about the anthropological behavior of man) ensuring it could play theaters without causing too much of a ruckus. Today Blue Moviethe film is a fascinating time capsule, particularly in the final half hour when Michael turns the apartment building into a happening sex tourist spot complete with a bizarre appearance by "Erotisch Panorama" and a melodramatic plot turn that comes out of nowhere. Blue Movie

Given that there hasn't been a video release of this film since its scant appearance on European VHS decades ago (apart from a very elusive gray market Dutch DVD), the Cult Epics dual-format Blu-ray and DVD edition of this film is a very welcome one indeed and restores an important missing piece in the history of European erotic cinema. The restoration and transfer conducted by Holland's Eye Institute is cited as being from the 16mm reversal and 35mm duplicate negatives, the latter likely the source for the English-language opening and closing titles. Obviously it looks vastly superior to any of the few other versions out there; colors are on the cool side (lots of blue, appropriately) but the whites are usually still unaffected so it isn't a case of blanket teal slapped over the whole thing. The DTS-HD MA Dutch mono audio is also in good shape with a very modest mix comprised of dialogue and music, with optional English subtitles.

Blue MovieA vintage 1971 interview with the now deceased director, WIm Verstappen (11m21s), covers the film's censorship and approval process and the unique problem it posed for the local board as well as the intricate process of financing it via multiple European countries. A new intro Blue Movieand interview with de la Parra (17m19s) for a 2018 screening at the Cinematheque Francaise with two of its reps covering the history of Scorpio Films and the Dutch sex wave in cinema as well as the decision to make it look a little bit "dirty" by shooting in 16mm. An interview with Hugo Metsers Jr. (9m42s), an actor in his own right, describes his laissez-faire upbringing during the sexual revolution, his accidental (and hilarious) first partial viewing of this film at the age of 10, and the question about the relationship between love and sex posed by the film. He also goes into Frank and Eva a bit and his father's rather, ahem, debauched state while making it. Also included is a peek at the Eye Institute (7m2s) with senior curator Rommy Albers explaining the facility's film book library, analog film department, and preservation efforts. A gallery of posters, stills, and German lobby cards (3m8s) is also included along with subtitled theatrical trailers for this film, Obsessions, Frank and Eva, and the incredible-looking My Nights with Susan, Sandra, Olga & Julie, which will hopefully get a release of its own.

Reviewed on January 31, 2019.