Emanuelle in America (1976) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Spoilers. Not that it matters.

You may think that sequels are a fairly modern development in films, dating back to Rocky, the Godfather, and Jaws. After all, there is no movie called To Kill Another Mockingbird, or Some Like it Hotter, or Citizen Kane 2: The Revenge of Rosebud. That may be quite accurate for "big" movies, but in fact, sequels, serials, and pseudo sequels were the staple of grade-b filmdom for years. The first Tarzan flick had a seemingly endless string of sequels, for example.  For the exploitation movies, sequels were their bread and butter. If a formula worked, they used it again and again. Sometimes, one company would even title its films to make them seem like sequels to a successful film from the competition. A classic example is Ilsa: the Wicked Warden. It does not use the character of Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS, and it does not even have a character in the film named Ilsa. But it stars Dyanne Thorne, the star of the Ilsa films, so the marketers and distributors wanted to capitalize on that name recognition and conveniently forgot that Thorne's character was named Greta!

Emanuelle in America has a very similar pedigree. The original "Emmanuelle" was a movie based on the real diaries of a real woman, Emmanuelle Arsan. Emanuelle in America is not based on Emmanuelle Arsan's diaries, and there's no character named Emmanuelle at all. It is about a globe-hopping sexual adventuress, a premise which is sort of related to the original Emmanuelle premise, since Arsan had been a diplomat's wife, and the REAL Emmanuelle films feature exotic locations. If you're really sharp, you've noticed that I keep changing my spelling of Emanuelle. The scam films changed the spelling to one "m", hoping to step one degree further away from litigation. I guess it worked. These guys didn't sue each other that much. These are small potatoes productions, and lawyers are expensive. Even if they had gone to court and won, a settlement would have been impossible to determine. In the shadowy world of drive-ins and grindhouses and unrecorded cash transactions, the sales and rentals were tabulated, shall we say, somewhat informally. If you could prove that you were entitled to 100% of the profits of Emanuelle in America, it would be very difficult to say how much that would be, and you can bet that the "official" profits were minimal, if there were any at all on the official books.

Emanuelle in America is actually one of the "Black Emanuelle" films starring Laura Gemser. (Gemser also had a non-starring role in the second of the real Emmanuelle films.) Not only is there no Emmanuelle Arsan in the Black Emanuelle films, but Gemser is not even black or African. She is an Indonesian, and her skin is a beautiful reddish-brown color. I guess that "Rust Emanuelle" didn't sound as good. Oh, yeah, and she doesn't spend much time in America either! Most of the action takes place in Venice, the Bahamas, and other ports of call.

Quick notes:

1. Before Tom Green came along, I think this must have been the Citizen Kane of horse hand-job movies. What am I thinking of? It is still the Citizen Kane of horse hand-job movies.

2. It seems that the film was meant to be modular, capable of being re-assembled into several versions, softcore, hardcore, or hardcore with extreme sexual violence.

a.  The DVD has all the footage, including extensive 8mm footage of extreme gore and torture, in a mock snuff film. This is really not my kind of stuff. There was nudity amidst the violence, but it was disgusting - Women hung up by meathooks in their vaginas, women having their breasts sliced off, etc. Not only do I have no taste for this, neither have I a stomach for it, and was nauseated by this footage. It was, one must concede, very realistic. Too realistic.

b. The other "disposable" footage is hardcore action featuring people who have no lines or maybe a couple of lines, and do not appear in the any other context except in that footage. Since they are not relevant to the plot, this footage could easily be excised to create an r-rated film as coherent as the uncut version. Of course, that was not a high hurdle to clear. Lewis Carroll's poems are as coherent as this film.

c. The first half of the movie is a tame R - not even any spread shots. Then, suddenly, it's penetration, double oral shots, and snuff films.

3. The damned film doesn't have any credits except a list of names at the end. I could have identified two more actresses if I knew who played which part.

The film is strongest in the areas of sexual and violent content. There is plenty of sex and violence, and the portion in the film proper is photographed quite competently on good film stock. (The snuff film is made to look like what we imagine a real 8mm snuff film to look like.) Gemser doesn't do any hardcore, but she shows it all, and she's gorgeous.

The film is very weak in every other way. It's dubbed (poorly). It really has no story arc at all. Laura is a fashion photographer and free-lance investigative photojournalist. Some scenes are completely irrelevant distractions from the forward movement of the story, but I'm not sure that matters, since the story really goes nowhere.


Laura Gemser,  Lorraine de Selle, and Paola Senatore show everything in a R-rated way, as do many other women who can't be indentified by the credits

About four women are seen in explicit hard-core footage: oral, double oral, and penetration.

Many women are seen in various degrees of nudity in the 8mm snuff film.

Spoilers coming:

Laura has a bunch of unrelated adventures. She goes undercover in a harem, and finds some weapons in boxes labeled "horse shoes". Then she films the orgies of the decadent rich people in Venice. Then she investigates a "pleasure island", which is a pay-for-play resort for the very rich. Then she starts to get wind of a snuff film ring, and investigates some kind of ultra-patriotic U.S. Government official, maybe a senator or representative (they talk to one another while walking in front of the White House!). She watches his favorite snuff film and feigns excitement, so the senator drugs her with LSD and takes her for a real snuff-related junket. She wakes up after dreaming that she saw a snuff film being made in some exotic place, but it turns out that she was not dreaming. She had enough wits about her to record everything with a secret camera. She turns it in to her editor, and he's impressed, but the publisher (presumably a member of the same corrupt world as the senator) won't let them use the material. Laura tells the newspaper to shove it, and goes on vacation in darkest Africa, or someplace with stone age tribes and elephants, and she finds out that her adventurous boyfriend has jokingly sold her to the tribal chief for some pretty shells and a goat. After a day in the village, Laura and her boyfriend wake up surrounded by Americans moving about the village in hustle and bustle. It seems that the chief made a deal to use his village as a setting for a Hollywood movie. Shocked and disappointed, Laura and her beau run away from the village and find a deserted beach. The movie ends.

DVD info from Amazon

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85. Not a perfect transfer - there is some grain in some scenes, but a good transfer nonetheless. The film has been remastered from pristine sources.

  • According to the DVD box, this is the first time the completely uncut version has been on home media

  • Interview with director Joe D'Amato

  • audio interview with Laura Gemser.

  • written article about the Emmanuelle Phenomenon.

I went into some detail in the above paragraph so you could see that nothing in the film is much related to anything else, and nothing ever gets resolved. Every dramatic conflict gets forgotten when Laura heads off for a new adventure. The fate of the weapons smuggler with a harem? Who knows? The fate of the people making snuff films? Still makin' 'em. 

While I'm thinking about it, To Kill Another Mockingbird would have been a good idea, because it would have brought back Karmic harmony. You see, the Iroquois believed that killing a mockingbird was wrong, and that the evil could only be undone by killing another mockingbird. The lesson for you youngsters: if you go on a mockingbird hunt, always kill an even number.


Emanuelle in America (1976) is one of the Italian "Black Emanuelle" series. By this time, the premise was that Emanuelle was a liberated woman with a boyfriend, had some occupation that took her all over, and she got laid in most or all of those places. By 1976, soft-core still ruled in most countries, but France was asking for some hard core content, so director Joe D'Amato not only added some oral sex and insertion, but a naked women jacking off a horse and a home brew 8mm snuff film.

Many say this unrated version is the director's cut, which is not at all true. The director's cut was the theatrical version released in Italy, minus the hard core content and the horse scene. This DVD is the French expanded version which we now have access to. D'Amato believed that hard core kills eroticism. To illustrate his point, he related one of his personal most erotic memories. Evidently, he spent most of his 13th summer hanging out in a windy parking lot to look up women's skirts when they got out of their cars. Now that is my kind of perv.

Laura Gemser looked wonderful, which is what she is best at, and was stark naked through much of the film. She refused to do hard core. Based on the DVD interviews, I think D'Amato, whom she became good friends with over the course of several pictures, respected her for that decision.

The 8mm snuff film was intentionally very poor quality, and it was very disturbing and not at all erotic. It was so disturbing, in fact, that one of the actresses sued, claiming she was traumatized watching her breast sliced off, and she won the lawsuit.

Although this film has a very loose narrative structure, being essentially a series of vignettes about Emanuelle, investigative photojournalist, exposing one sex ring after another, it is probably the most coherent plot of any of D'Amato's films. Lighting, sound, photography and editing are top notch. What all this adds up to is the best of the D'Amato/Gemser "Black Emanuelle" series.

The Critics Vote

  • No major reviews on line. IMDb's page has several reviews and comments.

The People Vote ...


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C+ (both reviewers). It is supposed to be a movie which presents a flimsy storyline an excuse to showcase extreme sex and violence. In the uncut version, it certainly delivers. No rip-off here.

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