Friday, March 30, 1979.LOVE YOU! Music by Nieman-Tiller. Written, directed, photographed and edited by John Derek. Running time: 88 minutes. Self-imposed X rating.
JOHN DEREK IS A DANGEROUS man. A film star turned director, he is trying to start a revolution in the porn business,
"I enjoy women," Derek says, "and they've been kind to me." With Love You!, currently  on view at the SeaVue Theatre in Blaine, Wash., he is returning the compliment. It is, he says, "a movie made principally for women," a rare example of female-oriented pornography.
Now, as most filmgoers should know, there is a big difference between pornography and obscenity. Obscenity is a legal concept, a word that defies definition but is, nonetheless, the passionate preoccupation of certain preachers, politicians and prosecutors.
Pornography, on the other hand, is the name given to a particular kind of sex exploitation film, the kind in which the sexual connections are real and expliclt. "Pornography," a wit once said, "is like British justice. Not only must it be done, it must be seen to be done."
The purpose of dramatic performance — any dramatic performance — is to elicit feelings and responses from the spectator. We go to comedies expecting to laugh, to horror films for the chills, to tragedy for the tears.
The purpose of pornography, quite simply, is to provide a turn-on.
As it happens, men and women are not turned on by the same things. And, since Derek told me in our interview that his picture was a close encounter of the female kind, I took along my favourite female film critic.
Love You! is the story of two couples. Steve (Wade Nichols) and Mark (Eric Edwards, billed here as Rob Everett) have sold themselves on the idea of wife-swapping.
Their wives are less enthusiastic but Lynn (Lesllie Boveé), Mark's spouse, is willing to go along with it for the sake of peace in the family. Charlie (Annette Haven) would rather not, but she is outnumbered.
Setting down on a secluded Hawaiian beach (the one used in the recent  King Kong remake), they bare themselves to one another, and we hear a great deal about guilt, fear, feelings and faults.
Like France's Just (Emmanuelle) Jaeckin, Derek is his own photographer. As a result, his approach to story-telling is primarily visual and biased to the beautiful. His use of lenses and lighting is more eloquent than his use of dialogue (which is all to the good, considering that his film's soundtrack is often inaudible).
Derek's major weakness is that too much information about his principals must be inferred. On one hand, he asks us to examine their various psyches; on the other, he distracts us with their copulatory fantasies.
Surprisingly, the acting, especially from his women, is strong enough to suggest real relationships in evolution. As the story progresses, a significant shift takes place as the female characters forge an emotional alliance and take charge of the situation.
My guest expert has never been a porn fancier. Nonetheless, she reported that Derek's approach, with its concentration on the tactile, the sensuously soft and the dreamily gentle moments, was indeed a female turn-on.
It may be that we will soon need a few new rules of etiquette. I mean, what does a properly polite male say when a lady asks him to take her to Blaine?
The above is a restored version of a Vancouver Express review by Michael Walsh originally published in 1979. For additional information on this archived material, please visit my FAQ.
Tuesday, November 18, 1980.
LAST MARCH , DURING THE prolonged Pacific Press shutdown, Mrs. John Derek and I discussed the economics of pornography. The setting was the University of B.C. Faculty Club, where the Dereks were guests of the university's cinema department.
The occasion was the world premiere of filmmaker and former matinee idol Derek's sixth feature film, Love You! at Blaine, Washington's SeaVue Theatre. Derek was accompanied by his wife, a young actress whose major film credit to that point was a "bit" part in the Dino DiLaurentiis 1977 creature feature Orca. ("The killer whale bit my leg off," she told me.)
A film named 10  has since made Bo Derek's name familiar to one and all. Twenty months ago, though, she was just Mrs. Derek, the producer of Love You!, her husband's first venture into hardcore pornographic filmmaking.
She had handled the money — a budget that rose from $60,000 to $200,000 — while "John did everything else." In this case "everything else" included writing the script, directing, cinematography and editing the final footage.
The result was an 88-minute erotic epic that the Dereks had designed to appeal to female filmgoers. During the film's premiere engagement, its advertising noted that it was "a film by John Derek," and emphasized the name of its best-known star, Annette Haven.
Well, the picture is back. This time, though, the large type in the SeaVue's newspaper ads says "Produced by Bo Derek '10'."
The story of two couples, Love You! is a reasonably effective attempt at romantic pornography. It is about two men, Steve (Wade Nichols) and Mark (Rob Everett), who have sold themselves on the idea of wife-swapping.
Their wives are considerably less enthused. Lynn (Lesllie Boveé), Mark's spouse, is willing to go along to get along. Charlie (Annette Haven) would rather not, but she is outvoted.
Camping out on a secluded Hawaiian beach (the same one used in the DiLaurentiis 1976 King Kong remake), they bare themselves to one another, and we hear a great deal of talk about guilt, fear, feelings and faults.
Like Just (Emmanuelle) Jaeckin, Derek is his own photographer. As a result, his approach to story-telling is primarily visual. His use of lenses and lighting is more eloquent than his use of dialogue (which is just as well, because the picture's sound recording quality is substandard).
The film's major weakness is that too much information about his principals must be inferred. On one hand, he asks us to examine their various psyches; on the other, he distracts us with their copulatory fantasies.
Director Derek's approach, with its concentration on the tactile, the sensuously soft and dreamily gentle moments, is about as tasteful as can be expected from a film that must, of necessity, contain a series of explicit sexual scenes. Producer Derek, by the way, does not appear in the picture.
The above is a restored version of a Province review by Michael Walsh originally published in 1980. For additional information on this archived material, please visit my FAQ.
Afterword: Not mentioned in the first review above was the fact that Love You! was produced by director John Derek's then 22-year-old wife Bo. Seven months after the premiere of their ambitious adult feature, Bo Derek became one of the most famous women in the world, the actress who played the title role in writer-director Blake Edwards's saucy 1979 romantic comedy 10. Edwards is said to have cast Bo at the suggestion of her husband John.
But wait, as they say in the TV advertorials. There's more. The plot of Edwards's movie involves the Dudley Moore character using a telescope to view the action at the parties hosted by his Bel Air neighbour, a wealthy porn producer. The job of casting the party scenes went to Annette Haven, who'd previously worked with the Dereks on Love You! For a moment, it seemed as if there really could be creative crossover between the two filmmaking communities. A "superstar" of the Golden Age of Porn (according to film scholar Robin Bougie), Haven commanded respect in Hollywood both for her beauty and acting talent. It's been reported that writer-director Brian De Palma cast her to star in his 1984 thriller Body Double, only to have his decision overridden by Columbia Pictures executives concerned for their corporate reputations. Apparently De Palma retained Haven as an uncredited technical advisor and trainer for Melanie Griffith, the actress who replaced her. After some 25 years and more than 100 adult film performances, Annette Haven retired. She celebrates her 61st birthday today (December 1).
Bonus features: For a time between 1978 and 1982, I was Variety's man in Vancouver. Unaware that changes were taking place in the the U.S. entertainment trade paper's New York newsroom, I submitted a report on John Derek's B.C. visit and a review of his film Love You! Both were returned to me with a letter of explanation from Variety's managing editor Robert J. Landry. "About pornography," it began, "we have a problem." I've included the returned film review below to provide an example of how trade notices differ from daily newspaper criticism. The full text of Landry's letter, explaining Variety's policy changes, can be found by clicking on this link to my John Derek's visit report.
Thursday, March, 29 1979.
Love You!Take Seven Productions release. Produced by Bo Derek. Features entire cast: Annette Haven, Wade Nichols, Lesllie Bovee, Rob Everett. Directed, written, photographed (color) and edited by John Derek; music, Nieman-Tiller. (No other credits.) Reviewed at the SeaVue Theatre, Blaine, Wash., March 27, '79. (Self-imposed X rating.) Running time: 88 Minutes.
Distaff oriented hardcore. Needs a special sell.
Distaff oriented hardcore. Needs a special sell.
John Derek, athletic leading man of the 1950s, has been trying to establish himself as a feature film director for the last 15 years. His previous output, a list that includes the independently produced Once Before I Die (1966; shot in the Philippines), Childish Things (1969), A Boy . . . a Girl (1969), Wild Flowers (shot in Switzerland) and the unreleased And Once Upon a Time (shot in Greece), set no box office fires, so he's turned to porno.
Here, too, he continues to be a maverick. His Love You! is a rare example of female-oriented sexpo, a picture deliberately designed to turn on women rather than men. Derek is aiming for "class" hardcore situations with expectations of crossover into non-hard houses, presumably the suburbans that played off the softcore Emmanuelle (billing it as "elegant erotica") or In the Realm of the Senses ("art").
Plot involves two couples, limned by porn regulars Annette Haven, Wade Nichols, Lesllie Bovee and Rob Everett, who are off on a Hawaiian idyll. (Pic, lensed by Derek, uses the same secluded beach as the recent King Kong remake.) Though the men are obviously looking forward to a swap, their wives are reluctant.
The acting, especially from the women, is surprisingly strong. The performances are good enough to suggest real relationships in evolution. The storyline involves a shift of control as the wives form an emotional alliance and take charge of the situation,
Derek cues femme audience response by avoiding violence and concentrating on the warm, dreamy, tactile aspects of sexual connection. Use of lenses and lighting creates a sensuous, rather languid atmosphere. While male characters fret about guilt, fear, and faults, femmes enjoy the attention and consideration.
Sex action is mild by current standards, and, though the performers are nude throughout, excision of actual hard footage would leave a feature of about 75 minutes. Budgeted at $120,000, Love You! was produced by Bo Derek, 22, the director's actress wife. Print, a blowup from 16m by Seattle's Alpha-Cine Labs, looks good but the sound quality is poor.
The above is a restored version of an unpublished Variety review by Michael Walsh originally submitted in 1979. For additional information on this archived material, please visit my FAQ.