Released: May 01st, 1990
Running Time: 90
Director: Toby Ross
Company: Bijou Video
Cast: Jeanne Blaine, Bill Crane, David Bach, Dean Johnson, Jared Young, Rod Garetto, Tom Rucker, Alvin Eros, Lon Flexxe, Paul Rappolo
Critical Rating: AAAA 1/2
Genre: Gay and Bi
Take the time proven formula of O. Henry's short stories (with their unexpected twists and ironic endings), add to it a satiric reinterpretation of Norman mailer's machismo ethic, and you have the latest title from veteran director Toby Ross, who proves once again that X-rated videos can work as art as well as sexual fantasy. No excuses, please, about too much dialogue or plot, about actors who can't act, or about budgetary limitations. All it takes to overcome each of these potential obstacles is vision, imagination, and —okay, I admit it,—a touch of genius. Ross has all three.
The four episodes —"Phone Call from a Stranger," "Love Bug," "Bi Me a Drink" and "The Cure" —are carefully united by style and theme. the style combines atmosphere with humor; the theme proves that gay men can be as "tough" as any of Mailer's womanizing "heroes" —without the crutch of too much booze. I could go on for pages about the literary and cinematic allusions in each episode, but the viewer deserves the pleasure of discovering them for himself. Ross builds his vision with the help of expert performances from Lon Flexxe, David Bach, Tom Rucker, Jared Young, and Bill Crane. These guys respond to Ross' direction with a remarkable degree of insight and sensitivity; they definitely understand what they're doing.
The first, second and fourth episodes are virtually flawless; the third suffers only slightly from an abrupt ending. Ross' experiments with lighting (particularly in the first scene) create memorable effects that are usually confined to mainstream productions. In fact, put this baby on films where the lighting would be even more technically effective, and you'd have a AAAAA instant classic. Stores stocking gay video owe it to their customers to stock several copies of this gem.