Video language: English
Based on the sleazy autobiography of the same name, The Light from the Second Story Window recounts the story of a naive young man (played by Dave Allen, famous for his performance in A Deep Compassion) who goes to Hollywood in search of "fame and fortune" but winds up working as a two-bit hustler. This movie delivers pre-condom sex at its finest ... including an awesome cumshot right in young David Allen's mouth!"When The Light from the Second Story Window premiered theatrically in 1973, critics were quick to heap praise upon the dramatic richness and epic scope of the production. Certainly, it was ambitious, perhaps the most ambitious gay adult film ever produced up to that time. The years, however, have not been kind to this cautionary tale of a Hollywood wannabe who becomes a whore before becoming a star. From the vantage point of the Nineties, what remains is (1) a gender-fucked wages-of-sin soap opera of the sort in which Kay Francis and Norma Shearer used to wallow so extravagantly during the Thirties, and (2), a vanity production for David Allen, who wrote the screenplay (based on his novel), directed, and cast himself in the starring role, all too often forgetting the genre in which he had chosen to tell his tale - there is not one frame in the entire film of him at erection.The first thing one sees as the film opens is the Greyhound Bus Depot in West Hollywood, where a blond naif (Allen) steps off the bus to be met by a black pimp (Winston Kramer) and a white drag queen (Richard Lindstrom). Soon he is at the home of a male madam (Brad Preston), and offered the proposition that if he puts out for clients in private settings and for the camera in fuck flicks, he will eventually be given a role in a mainstream film. There follows a mechanical sex scene in which an unattractive john and a disinterested boy toy go at it. Like most of such scenes in the film, this one has a beginning (penetration) and an ending (the money shot), but very little middle, and no sense of a complete sexual experience. The episode serves as an eye-opener for Allen, who (after being plied with liquor and some sort of 'pill') agrees to bed down with the pimp, as sort of an audition. They kiss. Allen sucks and gets fucked (although the anal action appears to be simulated, and neither has an on-camera ejaculation).
The third and fourth explicit episodes - of Allen with clients - are more successful on a purely prurient level. The first, a threeway with a father and son poolside, includes Allen sucking, rimming, and another apparently simulated fuck. The other, featuring Cassidy as a closeted movie star, clearly shows why he was one of the most popular early stars of the genre. The camera loved his chiseled features, gym-built physique, and sturdy erection, and he throws a definitely not-simulated fuck to the diminutive blond that culminates with a syrupy money shot all over Allen's tongue. But Allen's character is beginning to regret his life of 'being constantly used.'
An 'acting workshop' for clients turns into a kaleidoscopically filmed orgy at which the cop on the take (Richard Lavette) selects Allen as his bonus of the day and subsequently puts him through a humiliatingly homophobic S&M exercise. This degradation prompts the onset of a nervous breakdown in which Allen attempts to ape Orson Welles' classic temper tantrum in Citizen Kane. This is followed in quick succession by Allen's meeting a nice, middle-aged gentleman (William Laskey) who raises snakes, intones the most polemic dialogue in the film (all about love and longing), and eventually commits suicied; by Allen's becoming an overnight success as a legit movie star; and by by a celebration at a cabaret where a drag queen (Felisha Farr) lip-syncs 'Why Was I Born' and Allen meets the love of his life, another wannabe, who is straight (Ray Todd).The wages-of-sin theme shifts to the hollowness-of-fame theme, as Allen almost has sex with Todd (another sensation from the early days of porn); hires a hustler of his own (Joey Daniels) who turns out to be more of a philosopher than a sexualist in a non-explicit scene; and finally gets Todd into his bed for the hottest sex scene in the movie and an ambiguous ending in which the straight guy is gradually coming around ('Give me time... Don't push me... You can't have everything.') And the film ends with a stunning freeze frame of Allen in front of a giant kleig light at yet another premiere - rich, famous, and alone.
Why, then, after all these years, should one bother to view - or review - this film? Well, for all its flaws, The Light from the Second Story Window represents an earnest attempt to explore and exhibit human sexuality within a dramatic narrative structure, something that was rarely being attempted in those days of furtive shoots in motel rooms. Clumsy as it may seem today, LIGHT paved the way for other filmmakers who believed that the explicit film and the narrative could be melded, and now and again, this one does rise above cliche
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