U.S.A. | 1974
Directed by Joe Sarno
Rebecca Brooke
Jennifer Welles
Eric Edwards
| 73 Minutes | Not Rated
Format: DVD
(R0 - NTSC | 2-disc set)
POP Cinema/Retro-Seduction
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Guest Review by Troy Howarth
A young woman (Rebecca Brooke) enjoys a voracious sex life with her husband (David Hausman) and the couple next door (Eric Edwards, Chris Jordan), but things become complicated when her seemingly uptight mother (Jennifer Welles) comes to stay...
    Writer/director Joe Sarno (Abigail Leslie is Back in Town, Suburban Secrets) explores the phenomenon of "open marriage" in this softcore opus. As usual for Sarno the emphasis is strictly on eroticism of the implicit variety, so viewers looking for hardcore stimulation will want to look elsewhere. Sarno's gifts in this department are sporadically in evidence, but on the whole Confessions of a Young American Housewife doesn't sizzle as much as his better known films.
    The incestuous undertones give the film a kinky vibe, with Rebecca Brooke (nee Mary Mendum)'s relationship with mom Jennifer Welles (who certainly qualifies as a major MILF, but doesn't really look old enough to play the part) venturing into potentially taboo territory. Sarno, however, resists the temptation to play moral crusader, simply documenting the events with an air of dispassionate distance. Perhaps it's this distance that robs the film of a certain spark despite all the heavy petting the film never becomes as palpably erotic as it could. While some set-pieces notably all of Welles sex scenes work rather effectively, the majority of the picture seems unduly dominated with halfhearted filler material.
    The actors are effective in their sex scenes but have a hard time selling the director's stilted dialogue. ("Your tits drive me out of my mind... I wanna pump my juice inside of you!") Brooke and Welles are certainly photogenic, but neither is particularly inspiring in the thesping department that said, they seem like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford compared to the grating Chris Jordan, who gets the thankless task of providing 'comedy relief'. Not only is her character obnoxious beyond belief, but her monotone line readings effectively kill any potential for humor. David Hausman is similarly wooden as Brooke's horny husband, though sex film vet Eric Edwards (Laura's Toys) aquits himself reasonably well as Jordan's partner. Going back to Welles for a moment, the buxom actress manages to combine an air of class with a genuine enthusiasm for erotica a rare combination in the genre, and all the more reason to regret her rather small body of work (the IMDb lists a scant 28 titles, which stops cold in 1984).
    Though by no means one of the worst films of its ilk, Confessions of a Young American Housewife ranks as a lesser entry in Sarno's oeuvre; even so, devotees of the genre will surely find some areas of interest.

Retro-Seduction Cinema's release of Confessions is satisfactory. The print is a bit beaten up, with some footage missing due to blunt splices and print damage, but the transfer is otherwise acceptable. The fullframe image looks as good as one can reasonably expect, and despite some noticeable speckling and scratches, the image is sharp and colorful. The mono soundtrack is as good as the crude sound recording will allow; music and dialogue are clear and easy to hear. Extras: Three minor deleted scenes (more like extensions to existing sequences, in very rough shape), an image gallery of Rebecca Brooke photographs, trailers for other Sarno Retro-Seduction releases, a 12-page booklet of liner notes by Sarno scholar Michael J. Bowen, a bonus CD highlighting the music of sexploitation composer Jack Justis' work for three Sarno films (including Confessions), and a featurette-length interview with Joe Sarno himself. The writer/director comes across as a lively and intelligent sort, and he recalls the film and its cast with a lot of affection. 6/19/08