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Polissons et galipettes (2002)

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AKA The Good Old Naughty Days (2002)

This astonishing, scintillating collection from the silent era, most of which are from the 1920s, are genuine, legitimate and by today’s hardcore standards, amazingly charming, pornographic short films that leave nothing to the imagination. From predictable fantasy scenarios – monk spies on, then joins naughty nuns; teacher must spank naughty schoolgirls – to more esoteric fare (homosexuality and animal ecstasy, to name just two), vintage porn has never been more accessible…or attainable. The shorts in The Good Old Naughty Days were primarily designed to be shown in the waiting rooms of brothels, amusing patrons – and no doubt giving them some ideas – as they awaited their girl. They also reveal production standards far in advance of comparable films being made elsewhere at the time, as well as an inventive and often humorous array of diverse couplings. These films were usually created in a haphazard fashion in an afternoon with friends and local prostitutes lending a hand for a few cents. All of them requested to remain anonymous, which makes it impossible to identify who really acted or directed them. For this reason, it is rather delightful to watch these “actors” often having to readjust their wigs and fake moustaches in the middle of their scenes so as not to be recognized unmasked. It is nevertheless touching to see how fresh and naïve these films look in comparison with today’s X-rated film productions. Considering the age of these films, it is miraculous that they have been rediscovered and restored. These films are a part of our heritage and certainly a part of the secret history of cinema. In their own amusing way, these images involve us in a very direct, physical and intimate relationship with the good old days. These films have been restored by the Archives of the Centre National de la Cinématographie in France.

Film List:
1. The Hairdresser (1905)
2. Faiminette Workshop (1921)
3. Abott Bitt at the Convent (1925)
4. School Spanking (1925)
5. The Musketeer’s Dinner (1920)
6. The Voyeur (1924)
7. Miss Butterfly (1925)
8. Agenor is Picking Up (1925)
9. Homework (1920)
10. Tea Time (1925)
11. Massages (1930)

FILM DETAILS:
Moralizing and censorious bluenoses would have one believe that pornography and sexually-oriented materials are a manifestation of the recent decline in morality. This disregards the fact that pornography has always been avidly sought even back to ancient times (and was even then considered to be an indication of fallen morals as well). A picture has grown up of a rather asexual and prudish life in the early 20th century, but this collection of century-old pornography proves that this could hardly be farther from the truth. Indeed, the antics of our grandparents and great-grandparents on display here violate numerous taboos that cannot be broken in pornography even today.

Dating from about 1905 to 1930, this set of films, running from about one to seven minutes in length, give a varied picture of the sexual appetites and fantasies of our forebears. There’s the usual, including mild fetishism, spanking, lesbianism and the like. The first few films are decidedly softcore, with the first, Combing Her Hair (1905) more of an arty little nude study than porn. Faimette Workshop (1921) plays more like softcore, with what appears to be simulated sex but nonetheless enthusiastic as some factory girls are caught in flagrante by their boss, who takes advantage of them. School for Spanking (1925) plays with the teacher fetish and combines it with spanking. The dirty old man of legend and joke is the focus of Agenor is Picking Up, as he attempts to cure his priapism by bedding every woman he sees.

These aren’t just sex loops, though that’s their primary function. An effort at creating an historical mood is on display in The Musketeer’s Dinner (1920), as a Louis XIII-era character has his way with a serving wench, Miss Butterfly encapsulates Puccini’s opera in a smutty manner, allowing Cio-Cio-San to comfort herself with her female companion, Pinkerton to be serviced by a young Chinese boy, and then finally for everyone to pile onto each other. There’s a good deal of group sex on display here, and no one seems very particular about gender, age, or other characteristics.
In addition to ready bisexuality, there are other taboos being flouted here. There are not one but two separate films centering on naughty nuns and priests, making Mr. Abbot Bitt at Convent (1925) and Homework (1920) two of the earliest nunsploitation pictures on record. But that’s not the half of it. There are urination frolics, homosexual rape, voyuerism, and even onscreen bestiality in these pictures. Yikes. It’s not likely that you’ll find such verboten material on display at your local adult bookstore.

Michel Reilhac is listed as the director of this 2002 assemblage, though the shorts themselves are completely uncredited (other than a few joke credits). Little is provided in the way of explanatory material beyond the statement that many of these films were shown at brothels for the entertainment of customers. A few silly remarks are provided on intertitles in between the films, but no information regarding their provenance, history, or preservation is included. While the names of the participants are most likely lost to history, surely there must be more that can be said about these films. Despite that, this is an entertaining and undeniably little collection of vintage erotica; somehow the patina of 75 to 100 years gives them a respectability that is sorely lacking from any similar modern shot-on-video feature with similar subject matter. Recommended, but only to very open-minded fans of silent cinema or those interested in the historical origins of modern porn.
REVIEW:
“The Good Old Naughty Days” (“Polissons et Galipettes”) is a curious collection of a dozen short hardcore films produced between 1905-1925 and used to entertain patrons waiting their turn in brothels scattered over Europe. These black and white silent films, shot quickly, secretly, and anonymously given their graphic subject matter and compiled by Michel Reilhac for this traveling compendium, are the kinds an understanding uncle might have taken his nephew to see after mass on Sunday (or so suggests one of the films’ corny caption boards- the films are also augmented by French headers, the occasional English subtitle, and droning piano accompaniment). Needless to say the quality leaves a lot to be desired but it’s an educational mix of pre-Talkies explicitness and hilarity, especially to anyone who has ever wondered how–or if–their grandparents ever did it! The “plots” of these shorts, mostly five or six minutes in length, tend to follow a familiar pattern: a pair of young or middle-aged women, often dressed as nuns, start getting amorous, are stumbled/spied upon by a willing male, who later joins in the fun. There’s something for everyone here including lesbianism (almost every film features female/female interactions), nuns, threesomes, foursomes, massage parlors, water sports, gay male sex, even bestiality, all performed with a freshness of mind and body. The participants seem not only to be having fun, but are more “normal” looking than today’s inflated, airbrushed models, including older men and women with smaller breasts and a lot more body hair than is fashionable today (although for some reason the missionary position appeared to be rather unpopular in those days). The Good Old Naughty Days is silly, smutty stuff that shouldn’t be taken too seriously. The nuns (and the dog) help too.

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