A History of X: 100 Years of Sex in Film

Luke Ford, Author Prometheus Books $32.98 (350p) ISBN 978-1-57392-678-2
A history of pornographic film that achieves neither coherence nor climax, Ford's book suffers from the disregard for narrative and production values typical of pornography. Though Ford (who runs two Web sites covering the porn business) makes sporadic efforts at delineating the development of sex in film, such attempts tend to get derailed by his rambling, defensive discussions of favorite porn figures and by collections of often contradictory quotations, grouped approximately by topic. Even when a particular subject catches Ford's interest--the Cosa Nostra, for instance, discussed at length in Chapter 5--he fails to shape it into a readable story. Nonetheless, such interludes of relative lucidity offer a welcome respite from Ford's offensive generalizations about, among others, Jews (""Though only two percent of the American population, Jews dominate porn""). Perhaps most disturbing of all, Ford doesn't appear to be especially well-informed on his topic: he barely mentions gay porn and the vast majority of his many, many plot synopses are quoted from other sources. He's not even clear on whether porn should have plot and character or whether they're just annoying distractions. Finally, there's not much new ground covered here. Even porn devotees will find little of interest, unless the pictures (not seen by PW) prove more alluring than the text, which reads like a very rough draft. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
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