Barbara Broadcast was one of the hardcore sex films made by Radley Metzger in the late 70s, under the name Henry Paris. The problem of course is that they’re all going to be compared to his 1976 opus The Opening of Misty Beethoven, which is not only the greatest hardcore movie ever made but also a very very fine movie judged by any standards.
Barbara Broadcast has much of the charm and wit of Misty Beethoven, and it demonstrates once again Metzger’s ability to make sex scenes seem fresh and original. What it lacks is the strong plotting of Misty Beethoven, and the love story. You don’t get to know and care about the characters in the same way. Metzger was always at his best when he had a real story framework, even if it was fairly basic (as it was in Score), and when he could offer some psychological insights into his characters. It may seem strange to be talking to be talking about plotting and character development in the context of what is after all hardcore porn, but The Opening of Misty Beethoven showed conclusively that it could be done.
Barbara Broadcast revolves around an exclusive New York restaurant. The title character is a woman who initially achieved fame as a very expensive and very high-class prostitute and then achieved even more fame as an author, writing (naturally) on the subject of sex. This is a slightly unusual restaurant, since it’s not only gourmet food that is on the menu, but gourmet sex as well. Barbara Broadcast is being interviewed by a female reporter, but inevitably they end up doing more than just talking.
As is usual with Metzger’s films the acting is rather good, with both Annette Haven as Barbara and C. J. Laing as the reporter demonstrating good comic timing in addition to various other skills. And the two stars of Misty Beethoven, Jamie Gillis and Constance Money, are there as well, in minor roles, and doing a fairly memorable S&M flavoured scene.
Like all of Metzger’s movies it’s beautifully photographed and it has a sense of style and a feeling of classiness that you don’t normally associate with hardcore porn. And while it is undeniably porn, it’s intelligent and artistic porn.
It’s not in the same league as Misty Beethoven but it still manages to be (like everything Metzger ever did) stylish and amusing. Anything at all by Metzger is worth seeing. Unfortunately the DVD release from VCA (like the DVDs of quite a few of his films) isn’t fantastic image-wise, but it’s acceptable.