Now the film is being re-mastered in and re-released by New Jersey’s VideoXPix. Read on for a preview.
Until recently, “Misty Beethoven” was not widely available. VCA had the distribution rights but chose not to renew its contract with owner Audobon Films. Then VideoXPix bought the rights, and is restoring the movie to near-HD quality (it was shot on Super-16mm and blown up to 35mm for theatrical release). It will be released later this year featuring a new commentary with director Randy Metzger.
I found my old VCA DVD copy in a box of stuff from my old office at AVN, untouched in my garage for nearly ten years. The re-release will include the DVD extras I mention in the review.
The Opening of Misty Beethoven
Director: Henry Paris
Starring: Constance Money, Jamie Gillis, Jacqueline Beaudant, Terri Hall, Ras King, Gloria Leonard, Casey Donovan, Mary Stuart, Janet Baldwin, Cynthia Gardner, Helene Simone, Marlene Parker
If “Deep Throat” made it OK to talk about porn, Radley Metzger’s 1975 opus “The Opening of Misty Beethoven,” with its Oscar-adjacent cinematography, lively, able script by Jake Barnes (by way of “Pygmalion”), and assured and nimble acting by the late, great Jamie Gillis (supported by an equally top of their game cast including Gloria Leonard, Jacqueline Beaudant, Constance Money, and dozens of international extras) removed most excuses to dismiss it.
Misty Beethoven (Constance Money) is a common—but adorable—hooker delivering listless handjobs in Paris theatres when she is discovered and saved by eminent sexologist Seymour Love (Gillis). Ably assisting in his sex school is statuesque Jacqueline Beaudant (“She was somewhat magical,” says Leonard), never to be seen in adult films again.
Director Metzger, who shot this film and several more hardcore outings as Henry Paris, flew the cast from New York to Paris and back for this movie, and cleverly substituted New Jersey for Rome. His cinematographer, says Gloria Leonard in the entertaining and revealing commentary track, won an Academy Award a few months after “Beethoven” for (she says) Documentary. We will not speculate, but viewers can be assured that there is no boom showing.
Gillis is light on his feet and in his prime in this movie, telling the inexperienced Beethoven that “You are the absolute nadir of passion; the most unexciting person ever created. A sexual civil service worker” and then turning her—through a series of montage sequences and airplane trips—into the sexual event of the season.
The movie is clearly of its time (“Aquarius takes it in the ass, don’t they?”/”Of course they do, you romantic fool”) and has that great east coast post-war sense of humor (“Italy is like New York without as many Italians.”)
Like “Pygmalion” (and a little like “Les Liaisons Dangereuses”), the student outpaces and rejects the teacher, and we watch Seymour’s heart break just a bit before a non-“Pygmalion” resolution.
In the middle we are treated to a movie that justifies this era being called Porn’s Golden Age; populated by educated New York actors who happened to like to fuck. Metzger, who had cut his teeth in softcore and exploitation films, created in ‘Beethoven” what many believe is The Best Porn Movie Ever, and it’s hard to argue.
Included on my DVD is a running commentary between Gillis and Leonard that is very informative. Gillis made $200 per day for his three weeks, he says, and Leonard made $150 per day. Gillis says Constance Money was “bratty,” and says that Metzger bestowed her nom de porn “because she hated the name Constance and she was only in it for the money.”
Leonard reveals that the famous pegging scene, in which Misty fucks the ass of Golden Rod publisher Lawrence Layman (Ras King), actually featured the “stunt ass” of gay porn icon Casey Donovan.
Gillis and Leonard are nostalgic for those times, recalling that the premiere of “Beethoven” was held at the Four Seasons in New York, that Leonard slept with the director (“My experience with fucking directors of hardcore pornography has been mostly disappointing,” she says. I was born too late), and that Gillis dallied with Money’s sister.
“It was a different time,” both Leonard and Gillis say wistfully.
Previously on Porn Valley Observed: Goodbye, Jamie Gillis; “The Devil” you know
See also: Watch “The Opening of Misty Beethoven” and listen to Radley Metzger podcast interview