#terrysouthern #bluemovie



Terry Southern was a highly successful American writer. He was highly regarded by his peers and also achieved fame as both novelist and screenwriter. Many who have never heard his name are familiar with movies such as Easy Rider, Barbarella and Dr. Strangelove.


His novels were less famous but well worth checking out.  One of these novels is Blue Movie originally published in 1970. In this novel, Southern deals with a pornographic film producer and director who want to make a magnificent “art” film that will revolutionize the film industry. They need to line up investors and find stars and crew and location to make this a possibility. That leads to a wild ride through the ludicrous world of Hollywood and the film industry. Southern also confronted the many clichés of the adult film industry at that time as well.


This is a pretty funny novel but it isn't his best work. The central character is Boris the director also known as King B. He is an Oscar winning director but wants to make a groundbreaking flick. Sid Krassman is a producer who buys into this goal. The game plan is the make the dirtiest and most expensive porno flick of all time. Thus begins the plotting.


They want financial backing from C.D. Harrison who will not likely support a dirty film. They also need a location for filming. They are able to work out a deal with the tourism bureau of Lichtenstein to allow them to make the film in that tiny nation. Southern didn't pull any punches in writing on the undercutting and side dealing that gets done in the film industry.


They also have to get a major star for the film. Angela Sterling is viewed as the one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood although she is not taken seriously as an actress. She has a burning desire to make a film that will make critics respect her. There is a comical scene in which she is being interviewed by King B and Sid where they are talking her into doing the film. She does not seem to be on the same level as them. With clever wordplay and avoidance of the term pornography, they are able to convince her to take the film. It also helps that B is an Oscar winning director whom she greatly admires.


They also have to be deceptive about what kind of movie they are making while in Lichtenstein. This nation is strongly controlled by the church and they will not be happy about smut being produced in their country. The secretive filming begins after many false starts. Southern seemed like he had a strong grasp on the film industry and all the different players. He mocks the standard practice of keeping stars and film crew in separate hotels when filming on location. Of course, the gorillas must be kept away from a precious starlet like Angela.


King B is trying to break down taboos. One scene calls for a group sex encounter in which Angela will be pleasured by multiple black men. B hires a number of Senegalese men for this part. Angela refuses to allow any actual contact or penetration so they have to hire a body double. There are a few predictable size jokes that turn up in this scene. The scenes filming the mock sex with Angela are rather amusing. They even have a problem getting some of the Senegalese men “ready” for the scene.


 There are also funny moments with an erotic French actress named Arabella. Arabella is a lesbian who is brought in to do a couple love scenes. She relates her tale of being molested by an uncle when she was a teen. B decides to incorporate this into the film. He gets Sid to agree to play the uncle for said scene.


This novel makes for a very entertaining read. Southern had a biting wit that's a bit dry. Sometimes, I found myself going back to passages when I realized what he was actually saying. His irreverence may put off some people but others will love it. He does not hesitate to divulge a lot of the inner workings of making a movie. Anyone who views Hollywood as a sacred cow will not like this book too much.


Terry Southern had a fine reputation in the counterculture during the 60s and 70s. He was involved with Hollywood on a close basis as he wrote several seminal screenplays during this period. He writes Blue Movie as an outrageous slam on the film industry but I don't really sense any bitterness or any intent at getting back at anyone. My impression is that Southern was amused by a lot of the b.s. that was going on in Hollywood. This novel was his way of expressing that amusement.


I don't know that this book will please the average reader but I think those who like less mainstream literature will find this amusing. Southern maintained his sense of humor throughout. Some of the subject matter here may be a little “blue” but this is a very funny book by a now often overlooked American writer.



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