Written and directed by actor Alain Patrick, Bob Chinn’s production Blue Money (1972) is perhaps best enjoyed today as an anthropological curiosity. The film, which centers around a pornographer in Hollywood, casts many of Chinn’s regular crew and performers as themselves; lending the film a quasi-documentary quality. Patrick’s script and direction renders the narrative (and what minimal plot there is) as a “slice of life” glimpse into the world of porn.
Blue Money is set and was made before the “golden age” of American adult films began. Bob Chinn, like Alain Patrick’s character, did have to worry about police raids and product seizures. The films made within Blue Money are shot on Chinn’s regular sets and are as authentic as the banter of the crew in the film. Off handed remarks like “I heard you’re working a horror movie” and “let’s make this a period piece” are delivered with all the nonchalance of unscripted reality.
For the film historian, amateur or otherwise, watching Blue Money is akin to living Legs McNeil’s excellent oral history The Other Hollywood. More than even Boogie Nights (1997), which was lauded for its authenticity, Blue Money takes the viewer into the very real and mundane world of porn. The chic romanticism and nostalgia of Boogie Nights is nowhere to be seen in Blue Money. Instead, Blue Money reveals these modern “flesh peddlers” to be little more than middle class stiffs trying to make ends meet.
The dramatic stakes of Blue Money ebb and flow, but never reach the heights of true drama. To watch the film with escapism in mind is to entirely miss the point. Blue Money is a kind of dramatized reportage. Even the shifts in dramatic perspective to the police surveillance unit lack any real urgency. They merely provide a juxtaposition to the domestic reality of the pornographers. The cops want to bust Alain Patrick as a criminal, but all he’s done in Blue Money is work, fix up a boat, and just sort of hangout. Even the infidelity subplot is executed with little fanfare. If the characters in Blue Money are anything, it’s “real”.
Like The Pom Pom Girls (1976) and Kenny & Company (1976), Blue Money is a hidden gem of seventies American cinema. These shapeless “hangout” movies are perfect little snapshots into specific little worlds as they were when they were. The fact that Blue Money was marketed as soft-core porn stigmatized the film and limited its exposure. And while it isn’t exactly “Cassavetes-esque” like the Vinegar Syndrome ad copy proclaims, Blue Money is an excellent and wholly unique little movie. I would definitely recommend watching Blue Money as a double bill with Juliet Bashore’s Kamikaze Hearts (1986).