Thursday, March 5, 2020

All The Sins of Sodom (1968) Café au lait Skin Trade Noir

"Late 1960’s New York City. A place containing all the urban promise of opportunity, fresh connections, hidden secrets, Midwestern-rooted demons and uprooted repression just itching to burst out right under your black kitten heels as you walk nervously across its wet, oil-slicked pavement. It is this energy, emotion, and aesthetic that are at the root of Joe Sarno’s Black & White features, All the Sins of Sodom" (Heather Drain - Diabolique Magazine)

Directed and Written by Joseph W. Sarno. Cinematography was by Steve Silverman and Bruce G. Sparks.

The film stars Dan Machuen as Darrell Henning a successful cheesecake photographer. Sue Akers as a literary agent, Maria Lease as model Leslie, Marianne Prevost as Joyce, Peggy Steffans as the photographer's agent (director Joe Sarno's wife at the time), Cherie Winters, and Morris Kaplan as the Elevator Operator

Darrell Henning (Dan Machuen)
Leslie (Maria Lease)
Joyce (Marianne Prevost)
Darrell's Agent Paulene (Peggy Steffans-Sarno)
The premise of All The Sins Of Sodom is similar to an earlier Sexploitation Noir reviewed here titled Scum Of The Earth.  It's genesis may be right out of  Raymond Chandler, i.e., Geiger's pornography business, one of the storylines of The Big Sleep.  It also uses some of the later, sleazier, pulp paperbacks centering on the porn/adult cheesecake/dirty picture business of the late 50's early 60s. Titles like Over-Exposed, Lens Lust, Sin Lens, Pictures of Marcia, Portrait in the Flesh, The Photo Game, and The Lust Lens. Camera Bait and  Camera Club Model. 

They basically all depict the modeling business as a sordid profession populated by all types of degenerates and some of the films produced on the subject have these photographers and publishers out to not only make a buck on nudie magazines and nude pictures in adult bookstores, but also etout on the street corners pushing pornography on innocent teenagers. As if teens back in the day had no libidos until their magic twanger gets plucked by nude and lewd images. Some of it is pretty laughable but it's also eye-opening as it actually gives you a sense of what the official attitude was coming out of the Eisenhower fifties.

Scum Of The Earth is closer to the above end of the spectrum while All The Sins Of Sodom is already reflecting the changing mores of the accelerating Sexual Revolution in that now the photographer is considered a serious artist, the models just girls with marketable assets, and the pictures he takes are gallery and coffee table book worthy. The Sexploitation part of the equation, of course comes with the obligatory lengthy photoshoots and the photographer's after hours dalliances with his various models. Joe Sarno also may have been influenced by Antonioni's Blow-up in the basic story set-up.

Darrell Henning is a successful figure/cheesecake photographer. His current obsession is a high end coffee table book project depicting the women of biblical Sodom. For this he has to capture the essence of lust.

Cherie Winters?

Sue Akers?


Sue Akers and some accidental flashed "bush" in 1968

Darrell is the screwed up son of a fire and brimstone preacher who'd basically whack his peepee whenever he got a tent in his pants over girls. Of course Darrell rebelled and escaped to Baghdad on the Hudson and got into cheesecake photography and there lives out his jack off fantasies. Darrell apparently, like Bob Cummings in his Love That Bob TV Series (1955–1959), has relationships with all of his models. He shoots them, screws them, and then discards them when the job is done.

All this changes with Leslie.

Darrell and Leslie looking at the proofs

Darrell's first model in the film is Leslie (Maria Lease).  By 1968 Sarno was able to go much further with the demise of the MPPC, what could only be hinted at in Love That Bob, was of course now exploited to the fullest extent which in 1968 was Darrell having simulated sex with Leslie and his other models. By 1968 it's all Tits & Ass with maybe some fleeting bush displayed purely by accident.

Darrell gets smitten and fixated enough with Leslie to shoot a few more rolls of film.

When Darrell is questioned by his agent Pauline as to why he is using Leslie again Darrell explains that she displays the charms and qualities of of "Eve, Salome, and the priestesses of Sodom."

To spark the book project rolling again Pauline sends him a fresh off the street waif name of Joyce (Marianne Prevost). She is broke but retains enough pride to reject Darrell's offer of a handout telling him she'll work for him.

Arrival of Joyce
So Joyce does double duty by not only doing some modeling for Darrell but by also cleaning up the studio. Darrell additionally offers her the back room as a crash pad until she can get on her feet with no extracurricular activity involved.

You can crash here in the storage room
When the latest batch of photos of Leslie comes back rejected, Leslie becomes desperate to turn things around and to give them what they want. Darrell's verbal instructions to show "more evil" aren't very helpful.

show more evil
Eventually the camera is set aside and Darrell and Leslie have sex. Joyce both hears and observes all this from the back room.

One thing leads to another and Darrell eventually has sex with Joyce also. Joyce in effect becomes Darrell's muse.

Another shoot with Leslie goes nowhere until a light-bulb goes off in Darrell's noggin and he instructs Joyce to join in and touch Leslie sexually while he's shooting her. This new lesbian experience is both uncomfortable and unexpectedly exciting for Leslie and it shows in her expressions.

This juxtaposition of emotions in Leslie is just the look that Darrell and Paulene are looking for.

Meanwhile, bisexual Joyce is also dallying around with some of Darrell's other models.

Remember this is 1968. Censorship laws at that point in time demanded no male nudity below the waist, women could be naked but showing any bush aka "full frontal" was verboten. Of course all the male-female sex scenes invariably look pretty stupid because of this with the man always wearing trousers or shorts and the women naked.

The unintended consequence of this was the depiction of a lot of lesbian storylines in Sexploitation films, at least these sex scenes between Joyce and the other models looked believable.

Things go steadily Noirsville as Leslie gets pushed to her limits by the twisted sexual chemistry between her, Darrell and Joyce, while Joyce goes about playing her psychological games, manipulating everyone, and destroying the project.


Vintage 7th Ave & W48th St., Times Square, with Playland and Majestic Ballroom a Taxi Dancer joint in the old Latin Quarter Building. Nothing remains of it today. 

South Shore Long Island

Elevator entrance to Darrell's Studio

Joyce getting herself off

Darrell's Corvette and Edison Hotel

Barrier Beach

Cherie Winters a former model now a stewie

menage a trois

Cherie Winters peek-a-boo-bush

peeping Joyce

Times Square

Darrell in the Duffy Square end of  Times Square approaching the George M. Cohan bronze statue on the right.

Looks like Gilgo State Park 


All The Sins Of Sodom can boast some beautiful chiaroscuro cinematography enhanced by the claustrophobic confines of the cramped studio set. The cast is adequate enough to make it believable, the story line at some points a induces a little head scratching. Example why would Darrell's agent send Joyce who she initially says is evil to Darrell in the first place? A moody softcore café au lait Noir erotic film. 6-7/10

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