Tag Archives: Cecil Howard

Remembering Cecil Howard

cecilthumbLabeled by Playboy magazine as “The Grandmaster of Erotic Filmmaking,” Cecil Howard was a one-of-a-kind director the likes of which we will never see again. He was a uniquely talented individual with a unique perspective towards his art. Howard’s artistic vision
and dedication to his craft defines the climate of what we refer to as the “Golden Age of Porn,” and led him to break barriers for what could be possible in adult film. His films feature detailed stories and character development coupled with steamy, erotic, and sometimes controversial sexual situations. Cecil Howard has won every major adult filmmaking award and is a member of the AVN and XRCO Hall of Fame.

Originally an artist, Cecil Howard’s background before filmmaking included photography and print layout. He was the art director for Lancer Books, famous for their illustrated covers for science-fiction and fantasy paperbacks. Later, he began using his photography skills for softcore films made by his close friend, Armand Weston. From there, Howard emerged into the world of XXX as a producer for Weston, working alongside Henri Pachard as well as Chuck Vincent.

Production

To label Howard a “grandmaster” was appropriate since he was a keen strategist in every aspect of his filmmaking. From a film’s inception, to production, to marketing, and distribution, Cecil Howard was involved in every aspect of his movies from beginning to end. It wasn’t that Howard wanted to control every aspect of his movies. It may appear that way on the surface, but having been involved with Howard for the past ten years I came to see that Howard saw that each of his movies had a life and that life continuedscoundrels on beyond the production and even its initial release.

Like any good parent, Cecil Howard saw to it that every part of the process was the best it could be, and guided his creations throughout their life cycle. It is widely recognized that he coached some of the best performances out of his actors. He liked to cast against type, like Ron Jeremy in Scoundrels or Nina Hartley in Dreamwalk, and his direction often would result in Best Actor/Actress nominations for the performers. In other cases, he utilized people who were not necessarily actors, but their casting was integral to the production. Look at how he used Ariel Lee in Scoundrels or the street magician Dante in Heat Wave.

Howard’s works were true feature-length films, with the sex scenes serving as vehicles for his films’ plots. Howard’s movies were not the formulaic setup that dominates much of the porn we see today. Instead, Howard preferred to make the sex an accessory to the overall story he aimed to tell. Many of the stars that worked with platinumparadiseHoward expressed that they, for the first time in their careers, felt like true actors on his set rather than adult performers. Howard’s perfectionism when it came to his product extended far beyond the acting, however. His films would often take months to edit, as Howard liked to take exhaustive amounts of footage from as many angles as he could capture. While his work ethic came to the chagrin of his editing team, many of Howard’s editors went on to have successful editing careers in mainstream movies and television.

Distribution

As the exclusive VOD carrier of Cecil Howard’s award-winning library, HotMovies has worked faithfully over the years alongside babylonpinkMr. Howard to translate his VHS-era vision to an online format. Howard’s films were initially created for a theater-going audience, as film was once the prevailing medium in the adult industry. Howard’s protective nature over his content extended to the theater releases. Rather than allow adult theaters to profit off of the ticket sales for his films, Howard would rent out an entire theater in order to keep his movies’ profits for himself. Howard never allowed his work to be compiled or licensed out; he was to remain the sole authority on his films. Even when the internet-age of porn came about, Howard was scrupulous about keeping anything with his name on it off of illegal tube sites.

Being the artist that he was, Howard’s brand was always very clear and specific, and wouldn’t want it presented to the world any other way. Sometimes referred to as “demanding,” many would consider Howard’s highly protected brand enviable. Perhaps contemporary directors could learn a thing or two from Howard about how to properly maintain control of their content.

Notable Cecil Howard Titles

heatwaveHeat Wave (1977) Heat Wave is the brainchild of renowned director Cecil Howard that he hired his longtime friend, Armand Weston, to direct. Howard saw Dante performing on the streets of New York every night while driving home from work. Much like the character Dante portrays, Howard could not resist putting the street magician in his next movie. And the rest, as they say, is history…

Babylon Pink (1979) Widely regarded as the pinnacle of Howard’s filmography, Babylon Pink delighted adult moviegoers in 1979 and spawned an entire Babylon Pink series.

Platinum Paradise (1980) Cecil Howard intertwines his characters masterfully in Platinum Paradise to build the sexual tension exemplified in the scene where the married couple has phone sex while being pleasured by separate lovers. One of the most uniquely erotic scenes is between Eric Edwards and Vanessa Del Rio, where Del Rio is able to coax an orgasm from Edwards just by talking to his cock. It is this type of creativity that earned him the title Grandmaster of Erotic Filmmaking. An entire Platinum Paradise series followed the groundbreaking release.

neonnightsNeon Nights (1981) Neon Nights  won 2007 AVN Award Winner for Best Classic DVD and is also a XRCO Hall of Fame Movie.

Scoundrels (1982) Howard famously took home the first-ever AVN Awards in 1984 for Best Director, Best Film, and Best Editing for his feature Scoundrels. Having been nominated in all of the major film categories that year, Scoundrels grabbed the industry’s attention, and was referred to as a “sexual masterpiece” by AVN founder Paul Fishbein. Acclaimed writer Anne Randall provided the screenplay for the film, and Howard cast Ron Jeremy as his lead. Like many of Howard’s films, Ron Jeremy’s character was loosely based on Howard’s experiences as a commuter.

Sinners (1986) An epic in the grand tradition,  Howard’s Sinners series is a sprawling, powerful and seductive masterpiece. Hailed by critics and fans alike, Part One of this groundbreaking series was awarded as one of the best pictures of 1988.

lastxratedmovieThe Last X-Rated Movie (1990) The first installment of a four part series, The Last X-Rated Movie is Cecil Howard’s epic Swan Song in the adult genre. It garnered 8 AVN award nominations for 1990 including Best Actor – Eric Edwards and Best Supporting Actress – Nina Hartley.

Cecil Howard was an extremely intelligent man who understood how every aspect of the production affected the product. He stopped making movies before the internet came into existence. Fifteen years later, he was smart enough to understand that if he wanted the “lives” of his creations to continue, he would need to distribute them on the internet. But, true to his nature, he was going to be a part of that process. He would ensure that people experienced his art properly. Howard didn’t want to have his content carried on more than one VOD site because he knew he was going to personally involved in the release of every film. He chose HotMovies because we were willing to do whatever he wanted to ensure they were being presented properly. Every time he would release a movie on VOD, he would send specific instructions on how to present it, all the way down to the opacity of the watermark. Each release was a unique event and we were always honored to be a part of his grand vision for the life of his films.

 

Cecil Howard’s Foxtrot

Happy New Year’s Eve!  I’ve decided to take a break from reviewing 2011 AVN Award nominees and bring you a special NYE treat – Cecil Howard’s Foxtrot!  Not only is this classic movie about New Year’s Eve, making it perfect, we only have this flick until January 28th, so I wanted to make sure we were shouting about its awesomeness from the rooftops!

Man, oh man, is this one crazy 1980’s New Year’s Eve fuck fest!  Everyone is schtupping everyone else in seemingly unrelated trysts that slowing start to come together to make one giant plot that reaches its climax at, you guessed it, midnight.  While I may not have come away with figuring out exactly how each person ties together, I did notice that this fabulous flick is brimming with all the classic stars of the time, including Ron Jeremy, Vanessa Del Rio, Marlene Willoughby, Veronica Hart, Samantha Fox, Sharon Mitchell, and more!  What a line up!!

All Cecil Howard movies are filled with the best and hottest performers, which always makes them exciting to watch.  And I’m not the only one to think so – this movie alone was nominated for thirteen Adult Film Association of America awards (this was before the AVN Awards existed), and won Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Music and Editing.  You don’t get much better than that!

As I said before, this classic masterpiece has some serious plot.  Hell, I’d say it has enough story to make up for all those random gonzo porns that are so sorely lacking.  There are millionaires fucking their staff, voyeurs watching exhibitionists, the babysitting getting it from behind, and even a sailor coming home to find his girlfriend getting busy with another woman, which obviously turns into the threesome.  There is seriously something for everyone here!

It was a toss-up between my favorite scenes in this flick.  First, I really enjoyed scene five, with sailor Louis (Ron Jeremy) coming home to surprise his girlfriend Betsy (Merle Michaels), who just so happens to be getting it on at that exact moment with her lover, Faith (Sharon Mitchell).  While everyone is shocked by the turn of events, they soon toss off any bad feelings and all hop into the sack together, which turns out to be a pretty hot threesome, with all three sucking and fucking each other up and down the bed.

The other scene I really liked was scene seven, with the babysitter (Sandra Hillman) and her man (Steve Maloney).  They are in the kitchen getting champagne ready when she decides she is hot and unbuttons her shirt, which leads to them getting busy on the kitchen sink!  Hillman plays sweet and nervous quite well, and turns that quickly into moaning as she gets more and more into it.  Gotta love sexin’ it up in a small kitchen!

If you are looking for an awesome New Year’s celebration, or just want to watch an amazing classic flick, definitely take a look at this great Cecil Howard original!

Watch “Cecil Howard’s Foxtrot” Now!

Cecil Howard’s Scoundrels

Back in the early ‘80s, when AVN (Adult Video News) was just up and running, they announced the first winner of their Best Film Award – Cecil Howard’s Scoundrels! This plot-heavy, dramatic porno was unlike anything they had seen up until that point, bringing sensitive topics, like infidelity, to the table, yet treating them with the same overt desire and sensuality as the sexy subjects. Howard, along with screenwriter Anne Randal – that’s right, a woman wrote this movie – even found a way to take the slapstick humor out of Ron Jeremy and cast him in a subdued, real way.

Scoundrels follows psychiatrist (Jeremy) and his family during their growth apart and subsequent extra marital affairs and deception, which in turn become the glue that holds the family together, as well as tears them apart. And by family, I’m talking about Dad, Mom and daughter – all who suck, fuck and screw more folks than I can keep track of. I seriously needed a guide to help me remember who’s fucking who and which characters are related! Usually I would call liars and cheating spouses “scoundrels,” but in this case I think that would be considered a good thing!

Each character takes on a whole host of sex partners – from mom fucking her husband’s best friend and her daughter’s boyfriend, to dad screwing his secretary and visiting the Madame down the street for some action; and as the film goes on the tension rises as everyone starts to figure out that not all is copacetic. While I can only imagine how shocking that type of porn would have been during the time it was released, I’m guessing that bringing anxiety and numbly realized pain into a dirty movie during any era would be surprising and considered avant-garde and edgy.

There were a ton of really awesome things about this movie – starting with all the insanely hot sex! Seriously hot! Especially scene 9, with the wife and her husband’s secretary, as well as when he joins in after finding them in his office. There is something so risqué about apologetic sex, especially with the spouse of your torrid affair.

That said, there are also a bunch of things that I had a hard time figuring out about this classic flick. Like, first of all, what’s with the Greek Chorus looking mimes of the family members? They return at points during the movie as well and, really, I have absolutely no clue. Also, the white light scenes – what is that? Maybe I’ve missed something, but at some points Scoundrels gets a little too artsy and confusing, even for me.

But all in all, this movie is a total gem that you should watch while we have it (which is only for a limited time, until July 22)! You’ll be sorry if you miss such an awesome piece of porno history.

Watch “Cecil Howard’s Scoundrels” Now

Early Female Voices In Porn – Scoundrels Is Here!

These days it’s not uncommon to look behind the porno camera and see a woman calling the shots. Be it writing, directing, producing, etc. – ladies are taking over behind the scenes and creating a whole array of awesome movies, set from a female point of view.

While this estrogen insurgence into the porno process shows itself more readily nowadays, it’s far from a new concept. Women have held their places in porn (in the clothing on portion) for years, starting in the “Golden Age of Porn” – that period of time in the ‘70s and ‘80s when porn was just entering the mainstream.

We always love talking about ladies that represent in porn, but there is a super special reason we’re bringing it to the forefront today.

We have releasing Cecil Howard’s Scoundrels, for a limited run until July 22nd! And along with being the very first movie to win AVN’s Best Film Award, Scoundrels was actually written by a woman – Anne Randall.

According to the June 1983 edition of AVN (only the sixth edition!):

Thanks to Anne Randall’s magnificent script, Scoundrels gives us three-dimensional characters that rarely find their way into adult plots. This family is sensitive and very normal in their feelings; the abnormalities come from the unstable setting. Scoundrels takes serious themes (the kinds that Taboo and Roommates tried to tackle) one step further, showing that its subject can be erotic and dangerous at the same time. … Scoundrels classifies as thinking man’s porn.

Pretty hot, right?  It turns out Randall wrote and produced a whole host of Cecil Howard’s films during the 1980s, including Neon Nights and  Dangerous Stuff, which are two amazing movies. Continue reading Early Female Voices In Porn – Scoundrels Is Here!

Cecil Howard’s Neon Nights – Audio Commentary

Sometimes I have the weirdest porn cravings. Like a random desire to be uplifted and captivated by what is most often simply smut. Thank goodness there’s a whole cadre of directors who’ve managed to make more of the industry than pussy peddling and I’m in extra awesome luck because “Cecil Howard’s Neon Nights” also happens to come with audio commentary so I can get really deep into the mind of a smut peddling artistic genius!

Wow, wasn’t expecting to start off with a fisting scene, right at the beginning. Now I’m torn, the image of the blond woman in front of the mirror playing with herself and then getting out the brush for a little penetration is a really highly erotic one but the image of the older woman getting a shocker that turns into all four fingers and the thumb in the pink – makes me cringe.

What is a dream and what is reality in “Neon Nights?” Well the director says it’s up to the audience to decide and I think I’m just going to put all the most disturbing bits in the dream section. It seems that the young blond is the main character, who leaves home after her father/stepfather attempts to sex her up in the bathroom and her mother catches them. She ends up hitching a ride with a questionable man who takes her to another woman/hooker’s place. Things just get really weird from there (example, shady guy becomes a magician at one point and levitates the blond).

Candy Barbera, is gorgeous. Lovely brunette with drop dead legs and that old red, red lipstick you never see put off to proper effect anymore. Playing tennis in a super short skirt and without a bra she’s absolutely breath taking. Good think Cecil Howard decided to work with her because she’s a scene stealer, with a different less innocent sexuality to her character than her young blond friend’s and completely intent on seducing her tennis instructor. Actually except for the lead blond and her mother, most of the cast of this classic are brunettes with full luxurious bushes I’m in a weird slice of heaven.

Ah… that’s good porn. Yeah some bits were cringe worthy but there were a lot of really great mind bending shots and the plot weird and confusing as it was, also managed to be wholly engrossing.