Black is Beautiful
a.k.a. Africanus Sexualis
Directed by Matt Cimber
Matt Cimber has us follow am African American dude as he explains the history of “black love” from Africa to the USA. One could call this a racist film now, although it was likely acceptable in 1970. The narrator shows us scenes from African villages, of native love rituals. But most of the movie is a detailed guide to how to make love, with the same woman and man demonstrating sexual positions. Some of the scenes are hardcore but some appear to be softcore — probably routine for a movie like this from that era. The hardcore scenes (and in fact all the sex scenes) are indifferently performed and the whole movie seems overlong at 58 minutes!
Black Is Beautiful is one of the lucrative explicit-sex films marketed alongside Scandinavian imports during a brief window when Supreme Court decisions (notably the Quiet Days in Clichy and I Am Curious (Yellow) cases) first opened the floodgates that now have led to hardcore porn’s dominant place in our culture. Cimber cashed in while the getting was good with a series of fake documentaries now classified as “white-coaters”, which within 2 years were driven out of the marketplace by porn films with a storyline. (Ironically, today’s internet-dominated XXX market has generally jettisoned story lines, coming back full circle to 1970-level content.)
The audience is treated to a double insult by Matt here, as the “hip” host/narrator plus the opening credit crawl is disgustingly condescending to African-Americans (and Black Africans as well). Much is made of debunking the myth of the “black stud” and his threat to white women, but the film itself is largely a case of idiots purporting to be taking a “serious”, Margaret Mead-style approach to an American subculture. Some phony-baloney footage of people in a pretend-African hut plus stock footage is inserted in basically a replay of the sexual positions demonstrated in Cimber’s previous Man and Woman and He & She, only this time utilizing black performers.
The film technique here is crude and slapdash, with embarrassingly dull talking to the camera (often poorly framed) shots of the uncredited host, who could easily be lampooned by Saturday Night Live’s Tim Meadows in his patented smug routine of addressing the audience directly (see: The Ladies Man). The sex scenes are shot as filler in the manner of routine 1970 product, with some vaginal and penis closeups; closest thing to eroticism would be the man suckling at the woman’s ample breasts. Bilking the poor “adult movie” audience of those times out of their money without delivering the goods was de rigeur.