Free to Love: Cinema of the Sexual Revolution
Boys in the Sand
dir. Wakefield Poole, US, 1971, HD, 90 min.
This program contains adult content
One of the first films to bring porn to the mainstream, it’s hard to imagine now the impact that Boys in the Sand had upon its release. Arguably the first pornographic film to spoof the title of a mainstream feature (The Boys in the Band was produced off-Broadway with a film version directed by William Friedkin in 1970), the shoestring-budget independent feature made back its budget the first day it opened. With a heavy press campaign that included full-page ads in The New York Times and Variety, the film was a smash hit and helped usher in the Golden Age of Porn, paving the way for later successes like Deep Throat and Beyond the Green Door.
Boys in the Sand follows Casey Donovan and his all-male encounters on Fire Island. The lyrical imagery and pastoral idealism of the settings are intercut generously with hardcore action and vice-versa. Filmmaker Wakefield Poole was looking to create a film of “high profile homosexuality with no guilt.”
While the porno chic era came on strong thanks to Boys in the Sand and other hits of the early 1970s, it was not to last. The 1980s brought the invention of home video, which brought porn from a collectively experienced phenomenon to something to be watched in private, ultimately changing the material into something less narrative-based and more sexually explicit and illicit. But Boys in the Sand provides a look back to the beginnings of porn’s Golden Age, a time when the aesthetics and spirit of independent filmmaking still seeped into the X-movies.