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Joe Sarno: Cult Sex Movie Director Remembered

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

Laura's Toys Joseph W. SarnoJoseph W. Sarno – chiefly known as Joe Sarno – the director of cult erotic movies such as Sin in the Suburbs (1963), Moonlighting Wives (1966), and Confessions of a Young American Housewife (1974), died on April 26 in Manhattan. Sarno was 89.

Sarno’s specialty became known as “sexploitation,” as his films were focused on sexual matters and featured scenes of (softcore) sex.

Sarno later claimed that he “was more interested in psychology and character development than most of the other filmmakers [within that genre] at that time.” (If true – I’ve never watched any of Sarno’s movies, I don’t think – the “exploitation” label would be unjust.)

According to the New York Times obit, Sarno wrote the screenplays for all of his seventy-five 35mm films.

Among his other features were Lash of Lust (1962), about Gaul in the time of the Romans; Inga (1968), a sexual-awakening tale shot in Sweden; All the Sins of Sodom (1968), about an arrogant photographer and his many models; and Laura’s Toys (1975), about an archeologist’s wife who gets her former lesbian lover to seduce her cheating husband’s new girlfriend.

From the late 1970s on, Sarno made numerous explicit sex films shot on video. Among those were A Taste of Pink (1985), The Hot Tip (1986), and The Pleasure Machine (1987).

As an aside, one of Sarno’s aliases, “Francis X. Bush,” double meaning and all, was likely inspired by the name of silent film actor Francis X. Bushman, a matinee idol in the 1910s and Messala in the Ramon Novarro version of Ben-Hur (1925).

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