Three Vintage 1970s S&M Oriented Films


I decided to review three movies from the 1970s

which seem almost obscure to the current 18-34 US


Since about the 1990s pop culture in the English speaking

world has shown kink in different ways like song

(Rhianna & Britney Spears) and the cinema (Exit to Eden

& Fifty Shades of Grey).

OK I'm a cynic but I feel these seem campy, silly or off the mark.

(Photo Credit Bizarre Magazine)

During the 1970s S&M was still largely taboo and in the closet.

The films I've selected are three of my favorites and what I

believe are more cerebral and realistic in their portrayals of the


The three films are The Night Porter (USA/Italy 1974), Maitresse

(France 1975) and In The Realm of the Senses (France/Japan 1976).

Note: Maitresse was the very first film I ever saw with an S&M

oriented story line.


Directed by Liliana Cavani

Max Aldofer (Dirk Bogarde) is a former SS concentration camp guard

living a low profile existence in 1957 Vienna as a janitor. While working

as a guard during the war he enjoyed filming home movies and photographing

various inmates. One of the inmates was Lucia Atherton (Charlotte Rampling)

with whom he had a sexual and sadomasochistic relationship. Much of the

film is told in flashback.

As fate would have it the two lovers meet again and the relationship

as such picks up where it left off after Lucia's husband leaves town on business

very much like the Stockholm Syndrome. Her husband is an

American orchestra conductor.

Max is the leader of a group of fellow former Nazis hiding their pasts.

One highly erotic scene shows Lucia at a party with

SS officers. She sings Marlene Dietrich's "If I Could Make a Wish" in German

while she is dancing wearing a black SS dress cap, men's slacks with suspenders

and without a bra. The officers are also treated to a slender gay prisoner

dancing for them wearing only a loin cloth and nylon skull cap.

Another shows the couple at the opera. While watching the show

Lucia has a flashback of watching a man and woman copulating on a

bed while she is watching from her own bad clad in striped pajamas.

Max is wanted to go on trial for war crimes but refuses thinking it's a

waste of time. He confides in a former collaborator of his clandestine

affair that he murders later to keep quiet about his past and current


Since Max won't cooperate with his comrades they attempt to

starve him and Lucia and keep them prisoners in his apartment.

Somehow they escape and while walking at dawn on a bridge

they are being followed and don't know about it.

Two shots ring out and both fall to their deaths like a modern

Greek tragedy.


Directed by Barbet Schroeder

Olivier (Gerard Depardieu) is a petty crook living in Paris.

One day he meets a women named Ariane (Bulle Ogier) is need of plumbing.

He goes to the lower floor of her apartment and discovers

her dungeon. This opens him up to a world previously

unknown to him. For Olivier it's love at first sight.

She educates him on her work as a dominatrix and the

roles of dominance and submission in relationships.

While there is no S&M activity between them she

is clearly the dominant one between them.

In one scene a body double who is an actual pro domme

is seen piercing a man's nipple while he's secured in

a dental chair.

Another scene shows a sub dressed as a maid worshiping

Ariane wearing black leather ankle boots.

When Olivier discovers the dungeon he walks by

a man in a cage with a collar and leash but does not

see him.

Bulle Ogier is a natural blonde but can be seen

wearing a brunette wig which sometimes wears

in the kink scenes.

Other graphic scenes include a sub on a stretcher rack

(all subs in the movie are men). There is one where

two men are walking back and forth in front of their

mistress as she gives orders but sits most of the

time arms crossed over her breast. The two subs

are in drag too.

Another scene shows a high profile client in a cage

with his head sticking out of the top and the slave

is embarrassed to be caught.

There is an intense whipping as welts appear on

the back of a masochist who is wearing a black

leather hood. The punishment is administered with

a bamboo stick.

There is also a scene of suspension and immobilization.

In the movie like all relationships this couple has it's

ups and downs. At one point Ariane breaks and says

she can't be a domina anymore but soon reconciles.

Olivier and Ariane do have a fight and she tells him

it's over; but they realize they are deeply in love and

in the end go away for a while to the country.

Barbet Schroeder the Iranian born Swiss director

is also married to Bulle Ogier and they also have

two children.


Directed by Nagisa Oshima

This film is set in 1935 Tokyo as war

is looming. There are scenes of soldiers

marching amidst rising sun flags.

Sada Abe (Eiko Matsuda) is a former prostitute

now working as a maid in the same hotel.

She is also a part time geisha girl. She has an

affair with the proprietor Tatsuya Fuji

(Kichizo Ishida) after he molests her.

The film features both hard core and soft core scenes.

They become infatuated with each other and

experiment with their sexuality.

One scene shows him getting a blowjob while smoking

a cigarette. He is also heavily into erotic asphyxation.

She dabbles in knife and edge play and he gets intrigued

by this and he develops a liking for it.

Tatsuya is also a married man and this angers Sada as she

wants him all to herself. He is also a shameless player

as many of the other female employees cater to his

whims be in sexual or just meeting his personal needs.

Many of the other female employees are dressed as geisha girls.

One scene the viewer cannot tell if Sada is stroking him

or giving a prostate massage.

In one scene Tatsuya pushes an egg into Sada's vulva.

In the end Sada kills him by strangulation. She severs his

penis and spatters his blood on the walls.

The film met with great controversy upon it's release due

to the content. It was banned in Belgium upon release but

later it was allowed to be screened. It was banned in Israel

and in some Canadian provinces. It was released under

limited conditions in the United Kingdom until the 1990s.

There was controversy in Portugal when it aired on television

in 1991.

Finally due to Japanese censorship laws at the time

it was credited as a French production to get around this.

Today when it is screened in Japan the hardcore sex scenes

and some nudity are blurred or framed differently.

Photo credit: Bizarre Magazine

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