Cinemax Friday: Student Affairs (1987, directed by Chuck Vincent)

Director Chuck Vincent wasn’t the only director who making hardcore porn in the early 80s but he was one of the few to receive critical acclaim.  A director who put as much emphasis on storylines and characterizations as he did on getting the money shots, Vincent was responsible for some of the final films to come out of porn’s so-called Golden Age.  His best-known adult film, Roommates, was even given a favorable review in The New York Times.

Vincent was also one of the few porn directors to regularly direct “mainstream” films as well.  Of course, Vincent was never hired to direct a big studio film or anything like that.  Instead, he directed B-movies, the majority of which were either neo-noirs or dumb sex comedies.  Though Vincent was an above average director who had a knack for getting good performances out of unlikely actors, his mainstream films never got as much attention as his pornographic films.  (It makes sense when you consider that Vincent was, at the time, the best director working in the porn industry but just one of my many competent directors making B-movies.)  One place where Vincent’s B-movies were popular was on late night Cinemax.

Student Affairs is one of Chuck Vincent’s better B-films.  It opens with a group of actors auditioning for a dumb teen sex comedy called Student Affairs and then it follows them as they go to a high school and shoot the movie.  The film alternates between scenes of the sex comedy that they are filming and scenes of what’s going when the cameras aren’t rolling.  The cast is made up of familiar types.  There’s a centerfold who is worried that she is going to be washed-up at the age of 20.  There’s the intellectual and classically-trained actor who has been typecast as idiot.  There’s a vain male model and there’s another starlet who is convinced that she’s going to be a big star someday.  The film itself is almost plotless but it’s obvious that Vincent had a lot of affection for both his cast and the characters that they play.  When it comes to Student Affairs, both the film and the film-within-the-film are dumb sex comedies with predictable plots but Chuck Vincent’s direction makes this a surprisingly sincere dumb sex comedy.  When Rex (Andy Nichols) complains that he’s never going to have the career that he deserves because his physical appearance has typecast him as a dumb jock, both Vincent and the movie take him seriously.

There have been many great films made about the making of movies.  Francois Truffaut’s Day for Night comes to mind.  So does Richard Rush’s The Stunt Man.  Chuck Vincent was neither Truffaut nor Rush and Student Affairs is hardly a great film.  But, for a dumb sex comedy that was made for little money, Student Affairs is better than most.

Sadly, Vincent died just five years after the release of Student Affairs.  If he had lived longer and directed more films, Vincent and his oeuvre would probably be ripe for rediscovery.  Unfortunately, Vincent died just before directors like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez made B-movie cool again.


4 Shots From 4 Films: In Tribute To Joseph Cotten

The Third Man (1949, directed by Carol Reed)

4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

As you can probably guess from my pen name and my profile pic, Joseph Cotten is one of my favorite actors.  Born 115 years ago on this day, Cotten may be best known for his association with Orson Welles but he worked with several great directors over the years.  Along with playing Jedediah Leland in Welles’s Citizen Kane, he starred in Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt and Carol Reed’s The Third Man.  Even while his film career was flourishing, Cotten continued to appear on the Broadway stage and, during the early days of television, he frequently appeared on anthology series, the majority of which were broadcast live.  Cotten even had a memorable cameo in Michael Cimino’s infamous film, Heaven’s Gate.

In honor of Cotten’s birthday, here are four shots from four of his best films.

4 Shots From 4 Films

Citizen Kane (1941, directed by Orson Welles)

Journey Into Fear (1943, directed by Norman Foster and Orson Welles)

Shadow of a Doubt (1943, directed by Alfred Hitchcock)

Portrait of Jennie (1948, directed by William Dieterle)