A lot of people can’t begin to imagine their own parents having sex, and so it’s eye-opening indeed to see folks from many generations ago doing deeply dirty variations on the nasty. The fascination of The Good Old Naughty Days, a compilation of silent French hardcore porn loops that is getting a full-scale art-house release, is that it reveals how sex remains eternal over time, and also the ways that it changes.
The sheer perversity on display in these shorts, most of them from the 1920s, would give more than a few contemporary porn sites a run for their credit-card fees. There are cavorting encounters between abbots and nuns and headmasters and students, as well as lots of spanking, an ick! cameo by an eager puppy, a romp with a tall skinny fellow who could be the John Holmes of Paree, and several group scenes that feature the casual integration of male homosexuality in a way that today’s highly categorized porn would scarcely allow. If these shorts add up to a larger erotic tale, it’s the liberation of women, who start out – literally – on the bottom and end up, in the one loop that dates from 1930, beaming with joy as submission gives way to control.