Last week, Boing Boing presented a series of essays about movies that have had a profound effect on our invited essayists. We are extending the series for several additional days. See all the essays in the Mind Blowing Movies series. — Mark
Mind Blowing Movies: Inserts (1974)
[Video Link] Inserts could never be made today. It's too politically incorrect, and it would be difficult to find talented actors and actresses to essay its mentally and (in a sense) physically demanding roles. However, I've just finished watching Inserts for what must be the 30th time, and I'm as big a fan of this movie today as I was when I first discovered it in 1979. I'm only hoping that this review inspires you to go out and rent this R-rated classic so you can form your own opinions, rather than relying on either mine… or Leonard Maltin's ("Pretentious, unending nonsense… Dreadful") or Mick Martin's ("Dreary").
Inserts is the story of two afternoon hours in the life of The Boy Wonder (hereafter "The BW") (Dreyfuss), a former mainstream silent film director who's lost his nerve, and who, as the film opens (in the early 1930s), is reduced to making porno movies in his mansion. The Boy Wonder's "set" is in the corner of his spacious living room … but it may not be there for long. His neighborhood is undergoing urban renewal, as Los Angeles begins to build the first of its maze of freeways, and the roar of giant earth-moving machines can be heard continually from outside. It's obvious from his constant swigging of cognac that The BW has completely lost respect for himself, but his porn career provides a manageable balance between his fear of working in "the real movies" and his need to be behind the camera, directing something.
His star is Harlene (Cartwright), an ex-mainstream actress who used to "pork [Von Stroheim] plenty when he was straight." Now, she's a waitress by day and a cocaine addict in her off-hours… and The BW's sort-of girlfriend, even though, we soon find out, he's psychically impotent.