A pioneer in the erotic genre, Bronx-born Radley Metzger is recalled for a series of frank features in the 1960s and 70s that were aimed at a mature audience. In comparison with later R-rated fare, hi...
Directed the long-running X-rated feature "The Opening of Misty Beethoven" (credited as Henry Paris)
Directed his first color film, "Carmen, Baby"
Early film credit as assistant director to William Kyriakis on "Guerilla Girl"
Was editor of the horror film "The Flesh Eaters"
Wrote and directed the mystery comedy "The Cat and the Canary"
Converted the French national monument Abbey of Royaumont into a girls school, the setting of his acclaimed "Therese and Isabelle"
Distributed the European features "I Spit on Your Grave" (1959) and "I, a Woman" (1966)
Cut movie trailers at Janus Films
Directed "The Princess and the Call Girl"; also wrote screenplay; aired on the Playboy Channel on cable
Went to the Supreme Court fighting a censorship battle over distribution of the Italian film "The Libertine" (1968)
Produced and directed the popular soft-core feature "The Lickerish Quartet"
Formed Audobon Films with Ava Leighton in the 1960s
Helmed the visually arresting bisexual erotic comedy "Score"
Co-directed with Kyriakis the the low-budget drama "Dark Odyssey"; independently distributed it himself; set a record for lowest gross at the theater where it debuted
Under the pseudonym Henry Paris, moved into more hardcore territory, directing "The Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann"
Directed "Camille 2000" in Italy
Edited the Walter Matthau-helmed film "The Gangster Story"
Returned to directing with "The Dirty Girls"
A pioneer in the erotic genre, Bronx-born Radley Metzger is recalled for a series of frank features in the 1960s and 70s that were aimed at a mature audience. In comparison with later R-rated fare, his European-flavored artsy movies contained far less explicit sex but in their day, his films were considered adventurous.
Metzger has claimed that because of allergies, he found a refuge in movie houses in his NYC neighborhood while growing up. After beginning graduate studies at Columbia University, the future filmmaker entered the US Air Force during the Korean War and found himself working in the film unit. Upon his return to civilian life, Metzger applied his new knowledge to a career in show business, landing editing work on trailers for art-house fare at Janus Films in NYC. Janus distributed features by such gifted artists as Fellini, Bergman and Godard and Metzger eventually graduated to distribution. He and Ava Leighton co-founded Audubon Films in the 1960s. By that point, Metzger had segued to movie making with "Dark Odyssey" (1958), which he co-directed and co-wrote with William Kyriakis. A revenge drama about a Greek sailor who arrives in Manhattan with plans to avenge his sister's rape, the black-and-white film was independently distributed by Metzger and had the dubious distinction of setting the record for the lowest gross at the theater at which it played.
Metzger went Hollywood to serve as editor on the sole feature directed by actor Walter Matthau, 1959's "The Gangster Story". He then concentrated on distributing art-house and adult-themed fare, including 1959's "I Spit on Your Grave" and 1966's "I, a Woman". By 1965, Metzger had resumed his directing career with "The Dirty Girls". His soft-core features became noted for their lush and high-gloss look, a cross between a "blue" movie and the foreign features he often imported. Mostly shot on location in Europe, his films pushed the envelope in terms of sexual content but amazingly were reviewed by mainstream critics (like Vincent Canby) and promoted on American television talk shows.
In 1968, he made what many consider his erotic masterpiece, "Therese and Isabelle", about the relationship between two young girls attending boarding school in France. He went on to make the futuristic "Camille 2000" (1969), loosely based on the Dumas classic, "The Lickerish Quartet" (1970), what he considers his "most personal" film drawn from (of all things) Pirandello's play "Six Characters in Search of an Author", and "Score" (1972), a sort of modern-day "La Ronde" based on an Off-Off-Broadway play by Sylvester Stallone that marked the beginnings of his transition into more hard-core material.
Initially reluctant to move into the "hard-core" arena, Metzger took the plunge in 1975 with "The Private Afternoons of Pamela", but he took his credits under the pseudonym Henry Paris. Because of that film's unexpected financial success, he continued in the same vein adding even more explicit sex to such efforts as "The Opening of Misty Beethoven" (1976) and "Maraschino Cherry" (1978). Returning to more mainstream fare (and again credited as Radley Metzger), he wrote and directed the 1979 remake of the horror classic which earned fairly respectable reviews. His last work (to date) was the soft-core "The Princess and the Call Girl", made in 1984 for the Playboy Channel.
Radley Metzger on moving the setting of "Score" to an exotic resort locale: "Who wants to see people have sex in Queens?"
"My films are always one step removed from reality. It's like what Sergio Leone did with the western; he brought a profound sense of exagerration to it." --quoted in Los Angeles Times, August 20, 1998.
He was the subject of a retrospective in Boston in February 2001.