Release Year: 1975
Cast: Paul Scharf, Laura Bourbon, Vicky Lindsay, Jodi Thorpe, Moira Benson, Ray Wells
Genres: Classic, Retro
Video language: English
Coming Home Baby is interesting only because of its limitations, not its meager accomplishments. Anonymous pornographer “Harold Arnett” put in so little effort, sticking to “just the basics”, that he inadvertently reveals some truths about porn and filmmaking in general. It has been reissued on Vol. 123 of Something Weird’s Dragon Art Theatre series.
I recently had watched a far better XXX film CEREMONY…THE RITUAL OF LOVE, which shares four cast members with COMING, heightening the contrast between worthless quickie (COMING) and solid craftsmanship (CEREMONY).
Concept for COMING HOME BABY is mustachioed Trevor (Paul Scharf), a sailor, back to the Bay Area after 18 months at sea. He’s anxious to visit his fiancee Victoria, and humps various girls he encounters en route to the reunion.
This takes the form of a road movie as Trevor hitchhikes. Arnett fumbles immediately by shooting mainly MOS, with exposition in the form of dubbed-in phone calls by Trevor as we watch a couple making love.
It soon becomes clear by visual identification that the couple is Trevor and (presumably) Vicky. I say “soon” because I was slow on the draw: viewing the film I thought we were watching (by juxtaposition) Vicky in present time shtupping another man, not Trevor. This is because the phone keeps ringing, and Trevor (in voice-over) even calls the operator to check on the phone number, all while we watch the hump scene.
Instead we have an unidentified (just as Vicky’s identification with the woman on screen is never made explicit or verified, due to poor filmmaking) sex scene, which is either a flashback or a flash-forward, or perhaps merely a vague memory on Trevor’s part -not actual flashback. This level of complication is not introduced to add depth to the film, but inadvertently results from poor technique -so COMING HOME BABY is only interesting in these negative ways, for a student of film to ponder over. The average audience is merely turned off or put to sleep, just as they usually are by intentionally experimental or avant garde cinema.
The initial MOS Vicky/Trevor sex scene is continued many times and becomes quite tedious, until the money shot, porn’s almost Pavlovian finale to any sequence. It is always accompanied by a romantic flute/piano duet on the soundtrack. This music, by virtue of repetition (auteur plays the same track over & over & over), is soporific.
Meanwhile, Trevor gets Vicky’s mom on the phone and she gives him the brushoff -her daughter has a new boyfriend named Charles Weston. Mom pops up ever so briefly here and at film’s end, and typically looks about the same age as her daughter. The talented Mimi Morgan is completely wasted in the role, which might as well have been left as just a voice-over.
Trevor begins his quest, picked up by a pair in a van. We get some dialog recording plus some more dubbing & voice-over, very sloppy & inconsistent technique. They pull off the road and Trevor humps the girl (lovely Laura Bourbon) because the driver likes to watch; then the driver takes over for sloppy seconds. Coincidentally, Sharf and Bourbon had a sex scene (violent it turns out) in CEREMONY.
Trevor is in a hurry to get to Vicky and is next picked up by blonde Vicky Lindsay driving a Landau-roofed Pontiac. The SWV shill who writes back-of-the-video-box liner notes calls it a Cadillac, which other than being from GM it does not resemble at all. Of course, nobody pays attention to those asinine notes trying to sell no-name porn.
Arnett has the duo park in a secluded spot and have sex in absurd acrobatic positions, sticking out through the Pontiac’s sunroof. Anal sex is the highlight on her request, explaining “I want to be a virgin when I get married”. Yeah, right.
Trevor’s dropped off again and we have the cheapo device of voice-over trying to substitute for a missing scene: he reminisces at a bar with the local barkeep about the old days, but we don’t see any of it.
Night falls, and a short young girl (vivacious Moira Benson) finds Trevor unconscious on the sidewalk, another scene missing. Since IMDb credits two extras as “muggers”, this latter scene was probably chopped from the print used by Something Weird.
She takes him to her place and immediately humps him. I liked the forgotten Moira in several films, including JUDGEMENT DAY, but her attempts at ad libs here are terrible. When Trevor complains of his aching noggin caused by the mugging, she advises: “Concentrate on your other head”. She also overdoes the fake passion, with phony moans of ecstasy and even a couple of Teri Weigel-esque shrieks thrown in.
When this blows over, Arnett has the duo either in a freeze-frame or merely frozen in place as he dubs in dialog from the next scene, a textbook example of how not to do overlapping dialog (Filmmaking 101), since the lip movements don’t match.
He visits Vicky’s mom who merely states: “Victoria’s getting married in two weeks”. Trevor heads for a phone booth and calls Moira, voicing over “Hey, does that offer still stand?”, referring to her parting shot moments ago as she scribbled her phone number on a slip of paper -“If you decide that it doesn’t work out, call me”. The screen goes to black, and another Adult Cinema audience files out of the theater to return to their dreary lives.
A year later the same principal cast performed very well in CEREMONY, so it wasn’t the talent’s fault. BABY has the very beautiful Jodi Thorpe as Vicky -completely wasted (as in her handful of other films).
The overlong, real-time sex scenes, plus overuse of tight closeups, including gynecological ones, seriously detracts from BABY’s porn content’s effectiveness. On the basis of this desultory effort, “Harold Arnett” was a director barely qualified to make 8-minute loops, let alone a full-length feature.
Video: 512×384, XviD, 1937kbps