A Portrait of Doriana Grey

(aka Doriana Grey, aka Die Marquise von Sade)


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This is one of the very few efforts made by director Jesus Franco and star Lina Romay to create old-fashioned hardcore porn, the old in-out and all.

The premise of the movie is somehow kinda sorta vaguely related to the famous Oscar Wilde story from which it derives its name. A mysterious, rich lesbian recluse lives in her isolated castle, while an exact duplicate of her, presumably a twin sister, is confined to a nearby asylum. The countess has numerous affairs, all of which seem to end with her sucking the very life out of her sexual partners like some kind of a sexual vampire who drains her victims with orgasms.

Meanwhile, the other sister spends all of her waking hours saying crazy things and masturbating furiously.

Kinda like Bill Maher.

The two sisters look exactly alike, so there is no direct parallel to the Wilde story, but if you really want to stretch the metaphor, you could say that the Bill Maher sister is paying for the sins of the murderous countess, just as Dorian's portrait paid for his sins. But the most important element of their psychic link has quite a different spin from anything imagined by Wilde. The institutionalized sister also gets the benefit of Doriana's lust, for the tragic nature of their telepathic communication is that the rich one has all the sex, but the crazy one has all the orgasms.

Maybe not exactly what Oscar Wilde had in mind.

Or maybe exactly what Oscar had in mind, but couldn't express directly in Victorian times.

At any rate, the story begins when a journalist arrives to interview the mysterious countess about her life and her alleged twin, and the story is told using that tete-a-tete as the framing device, thus allowing the countess to narrate constantly. Not that there's much to narrate. Except for the first few minutes of the film, which includes some of the countess's reflections on life and loneliness, the film is basically just non-stop sex scenes.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Franco's approach to sex scenes is somewhat different from what you might see in a modern mass-produced porn film. While the scenes are neither very romantic nor very passionate, they are shot in beautiful lighting with a clinical attention to detail. In fact, "clinical" is probably the best word to describe all of the sex scenes in this film. Lina Romay, Franco's life-partner and collaborator, plays both sisters and between the two roles she manages to engage in a wide variety of recreational activities with both sexes, and to expose herself in gynecological detail, including extreme - almost microscopic - levels of close-up. In her "crazy sister" avatar, Romay also manages to give a BJ onscreen, and director Franco catches the climax just as it happens into her open mouth. Romay does not get penetrated with a man-root, other than in her mouth, but she has a male manservant, and he has a girlfriend, so that allows Franco to introduce some heterosexual penetration into the mix. The ...er .. climax ... of the film is a scene in which Lina has sex with (surprise) Lina. No, I don't mean masturbation, although she does plenty of that, but in this case it's the rich sister paying a visit to the crazy sister.

The film does exhibit some of the problems that plagued Franco's films in that era.

  • He makes extensive, most people would say excessive, use of the zoom lens.
  • He has occasional focus problems, which he tends to correct on the fly. (I suppose that derives mainly from his use of the zoom, which always seem to require a period of trial-and-error refocusing after he zooms in or out.)
  • He re-uses some establishing footage several times. (One clip of Romay walking through the woods in a transparent nightie and five-inch heels appears at least three times.)

My opinion is that the curiosity value of the film (hardcore porn from Romay and Franco) and the superb quality of the transfer outweigh the film's negatives if you are looking for something unique to add to your collection. The icing on the cake consists of plenty of extra features on the DVD. This disc is priced at a premium level (the best price I could find was $29.95 new from http://www/xPloitedcinema.com), but I found it a good value. One simply cannot find anything to complain about with this DVD.

  • The film has been fully restored and the quality of the transfer is excellent.
  • The disk also includes a lengthy compilation of interviews with producer Dietrich and director Franco, all of which have been intercut with samples from this film and others to create a documentary which illustrates the points they are making.
  • There is also an interesting special featurette on the restoration process, which is illustrated with before and after examples as well as technical information about the techniques and hardware involved. (This is not specifically about this particular film, but about the creation of "The Official Jess Franco Collection," which basically consists of the Dietrich/Franco collaborations produced in Switzerland in the seventies.)
  • There is a documentary about the making of a different Franco film: the Klaus Kinski version of Jack the Ripper, featuring a lengthy analysis from producer Erwin Dietrich.
  • There are theatrical trailers from this and fourteen other similar films - forty minutes of film altogether. (Including Rolls Royce Baby, which is the only film I know of wherein Lina Romay shaved her lush bush.)

This film is good niche material, but since that is not my particular niche, I found the special features more fascinating than the film. The trailer gallery is like a time capsule, or perhaps a lesson in an obscure chapter of film history.

What can I say? I don't like hardcore porn and I don't like Jess Franco films, but I spent a lot of time browsing through this disc!


DVD info for the official Jess Franco collection (the Dietrich/Franco collaborations)

I ordered it from xPloited cinema. Prompt service. No hassles.




No major reviews online, as you might expect. Even in the seventies, when many sex films approached the level of art, people like Kael and Ebert rarely commented on hardcore sex films.







5.8 IMDB summary (of 10)
  I don't believe you will find many hardcore sex films rated higher!







No information.




  • Sex acts: Lina Romay, Martine Stedil, Monika Swinn, Peggy Markoff, Raymond Hardy ... and others.




Reader Comment

"Actually, Jesus Franco churned out a lot of pornos in the 80s. I've seen "El ojete de Lulú" (Lulu's Asshole), in which Lina Romay puts an Oscar in her ass (I think there's some symbolism there), "El mirón y la exhibicionista" (The Voyeur and the Exhibitionist), "Lilian, la virgen pervertida" (Lilian, the Perverted Virgin), and some others. Most of them are legitimate, no-holds-barred hardcore porn films."



Web www.scoopy.com

Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


Genre fans rarely get anything as sweet as this this: a fully restored film, hardcore done by people who don't usually do it, and a ton of special features. A must-own for fans of Franco and/or Romay.