Director: Paul Morrissey
Cast: Joe Dallesandro
Flesh is a hard film to write about, mainly because there’s not much to it. It encapsulates a day in the life of Joe, a married hustler in New York whose male clients are his only source of income to support himself and his wife and child. The film is shockingly forthright considering its release date, openly exposing the full male body and discussing controversial topics such as abortion and gender identity.
The production was incredibly cheap, with a budget of only $4,000. The camerawork looks like a home video, with frequent jumps in the film. The sound is equally as shoddy. However, this all creates a very realistic image, showing there’s nothing to Morrissey’s characters than what they are. The aimlessness of all the characters encountered is in some ways touching to see spoken of so honestly, but greatly tragic.
Flesh is often considered a classic for its progressive attitude towards homosexuality, but its lack of traditional film-making style is a lot to bear, and certainly diminishes its target audience to a slim few. A classic example of art vs. entertainment in the film industry.
Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):
- UK censor John Trevelyan was wary of issuing the film a cinema certificate and suggested to the distributors that the film be shown on a club basis. When it was initially shown at the Open Space Theatre in London in February 1970 the cinema was raided by police who attempted to seize the film, leading Trevelyan himself to hastily rush to the cinema and vigorously defend the movie against possible prosecution, calling the police action 'unjustified and preposterous'. In the light of this incident Trevelyan was able to grant the film an uncut 'X' certificate.