Joe Sarno’s long career has been well documented. Check out his IMDb listing. The guy kept busy! The films of Sarno’s greatest period, the 1970s, are all well-known, but his movies from a decade earlier are lesser-known and in many cases lost forever. Here would be one such lost movie except—lo and behold, in 2008, somebody found a pristine negative in a vault! Thus All the Sins of Sodom appears on DVD for the first time ever, thanks to the folks at Retro-Seduction Cinema.
The movie dates from 1968. It was shot in New York City in February of that year and is low-budget, even by Sarno standards. The plot involves a photographer of nude models who’s creatively stuck, unable to get his main model and lover to give him the kind of intensity he needs for a shoot. A young waif shows up and he offers her a place to stay, thinking that she’s too innocent to shoot…until he realizes that her naivete is only a ruse. She slowly works her way into both his life and his photoshoots.
None of the actors or actresses are credited on the film, though some of them can be recognized from other Sarno films. The girls are generally cute, with groovy 1960s hair, and needless to say, all-natural bodies. The nudity is T&A only. No bush on display here, unless you count the photographer’s entire hairy body. Sheesh—women aren’t the only ones who have lost body hair in the intervening half century!
The beauty of the black and white print is a revelation, as is the amazing fact that nobody anywhere has seen this movie in 40 years. But, apples to apples, All the Sins of Sodom pales a bit in comparison to Inga, which was shot just three months prior and an entire continent away. That film seems much more grown up and modern than this one. Maybe America was not quite out of its frigidity at this point, because the social mores and the plot seem so much more straitlaced and puritanical. There’s a scene where our leading lady uses a vibrating massager on a place other than her neck. According to Sarno, when the film was first shown, the scene elicited a theater full of gasps. No one had ever seen such a thing in a movie before.
There are other glimpses of the openness in American society to come, with girl/girl scenes akin in explicitness to Radley Metzger’s Therese and Isabelle, also from this year. You see bits and pieces of Sarno trademarks that will come to full flower in his films a few years later. He even works in a couple of his precious female orgasms—after a particularly roof-raising coupling, the photographer frustratedly asks his model, “why can’t you give me that when I have a camera in my hand?”
It’s a pleasure to be able to see such a rare find. The DVD transfer is pristine. There’s also commentary by Peggy Steffans-Sarno and Sarno biographer Michael Bowen, as well as footage and interviews from a screening in Austin, Texas. Sarno completists definitely will want to pick up this DVD. This is not a major work compared to the later masterpieces. It’s clearly a transitional film; important in that respect, but still transitional.
In the meanwhile, if anybody finds a print of a heretofore unknown Sarno classic from the mid 1970s, preferably starring Marie Forsa or Rebecca Brooke, do let me know!