From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
In his early career, Metzger was a film editor, working on such films as The Flesh Eaters, and providing censor cuts for European films like Bitter Rice. He also edited several trailers, quite a number of them for the films of Ingmar Bergman. An early directorial effort, Dark Odyssey (1961) did poorly at the box office.
Along with Ava Leighton, he founded Audubon Films in the early 1960s, a film distribution company that specialized in importing European features to exploit in the gradually expanding sexploitation film market. Metzger's skills as an editor were employed in re-cutting and augmenting many of the features Audubon handled. The company's first run-away success was Mac Ahlberg's I, a Woman (U. S. 1966).
Metzger's second significant directorial effort, The Dirty Girls was released in 1965.
As an auteur, he is considered by his fans to be among the more stylish directors of the porn chic era. He regularly collaborated with cinematographer Hans Jura. His company Audubon, distributed European films in the United States.
As "Henry Paris," Metzger is also respected for a handful of explicit pornographic features typified by high production values, especially The Opening of Misty Beethoven (1975) and The Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann (1975).
Metzger retired from filmmaking in 1984.
Radley Metzger (born January 21, 1929; died March 31, 2017) was an American filmmaker and film distributor most noted for popular erotic films, including I, a Woman (1966), Camille 2000 (1969), The Lickerish Quartet (1970), The Image (1975) and The Opening of Misty Beethoven (1976). According to one film reviewer, Metzger's films, including those made during the Golden Age of Porn, are noted for their "lavish design, witty screenplays, and a penchant for the unusual camera angle". Another reviewer noted that his films were "highly artistic – and often cerebral ... and often featured gorgeous cinematography". Film and audio works by Metzger have been added to the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.
Radley Henry Metzger was born in 1929 on the Grand Concourse in The Bronx, New York City, and he was the second son of Jewish parents, Julius and Anne. He claimed he found relief from his allergies in movie theaters while growing up. Later, Metzger received a B.A. in Dramatic Arts from City College of New York, where he studied with filmmakers Hans Richter and Leo Seltzer. He also studied acting privately with director Harold Clurman. During the Korean War, Metzger served in the U. S. Air Force with the 1350th Photographic Group, which interrupted his graduate studies at Columbia University. His older brother, now deceased, had become a physician. Metzger later married and had a daughter.
Early in his career, in the 1950s, Metzger worked primarily as a film editor and was a member of Local 771 of the IATSE. He was employed in editing trailers for Janus Films (now The Criterion Collection) a major distributor of foreign art films, especially those of Michelangelo Antonioni, Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, and Jean-Luc Godard. In 1953, Metzger was credited as assistant director to William Kyriakis on the film Guerilla Girl. Later, in 1956, he worked on the dubbing of And God Created Woman, starring Brigitte Bardot. His directorial film debut, Dark Odyssey (1958) (co-directed with Kyriakis), was a drama concerning the experiences of a Greek immigrant arriving in New York. The film was favorably reviewed by The New York Times. In 1959, he edited the film The Gangster Story, starring Walter Matthau.
Later, in 1961, along with film distributor Ava Leighton, Metzger founded Audubon Films, a distribution company that specialized in importing international features, some of which were marketed into the gradually expanding adult erotic film genre. Metzger's skills as an editor were employed in re-cutting and augmenting many of the features Audubon handled, including The Twilight Girls (FR,1957), I Spit on Your Graves (FR,1959), and their first runaway success, Mac Ahlberg 's I, a Woman (DN/SW,1965).
Metzger's second directorial effort, The Dirty Girls (shot in 1963 and released in 1965), marked his emergence as a major auteur in the adult erotic film genre. His subsequent films were often shot in Europe and adapted from novels or other literary sources, including Carmen, La Dame aux Camélias, L'image (by Catherine Robbe-Grillet), Naked Came the Stranger, Pygmalion (by George Bernard Shaw), Six Characters in Search of an Author (by Luigi Pirandello), The Cat and the Canary, and Thérèse et Isabelle (by Violette Leduc). He cites John Farrow, Claude Lelouch, Michael Powell, Alain Resnais and Orson Welles as influencing his work. Metzger worked with the French film director Jean Renoir, as well as the American actor Hal Linden. Andy Warhol, who helped begin the Golden Age of Porn with his 1969 film Blue Movie, was a fan of Metzger's film work and commented that Metzger's film, The Lickerish Quartet, was “an outrageously kinky masterpiece”. In 1972, Metzger directed the film Score, based on an erotic off-Broadway play that included Sylvester Stallone. Films directed by Metzger included musical scores composed by Georges Auric, Stelvio Cipriani, Georges Delerue, and Piero Piccioni.
Under the pseudonym "Henry Paris," Metzger also directed several explicit adult erotic features during the mid- to late-1970s. These films were released during the Golden Age of Porn (inaugurated by the 1969 release of Andy Warhol's Blue Movie) in the United States, at a time of "porno chic", in which adult erotic films were just beginning to be widely released, publicly discussed by celebrities (like Johnny Carson and Bob Hope) and taken seriously by film critics (like Roger Ebert). Metzger's films are typified by high production values, especially The Opening of Misty Beethoven (1976) and The Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann (1975), and are generally critically celebrated. Some historians assess The Opening of Misty Beethoven, based on the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw (and its derivative, My Fair Lady), as attaining a mainstream level in storyline and sets and is considered, by award-winning author Toni Bentley, the "crown jewel" of the Golden Age of Porn.
Some of the adult erotic "Henry Paris" films, including Score (1974), were also released in softcore versions. Many of these films, including The Image (1975) and Barbara Broadcast (1977), as well as Metzger's earlier softcore films, Camille 2000 (1969) and The Lickerish Quartet (1970), are available in Blu-ray versions.
With his 1978 feature The Cat and the Canary, Metzger distinguished himself as one of the few adult film auteurs to direct a dramatic feature outside of the adult erotic film genre. The film starred Honor Blackman, Carol Lynley, and Dame Wendy Hiller.
In the 1990s, as a result of the passing of his long-time partner, Ava, due to cancer, Metzger produced several videos on alternative health care, including one on cancer treatment and a five-part video series on homeopathy with Dr. Andre Weil. According to Metzger: "I felt that in the 1990s, people needed more information on an intelligent approach to health and disease–that they needed to know about alleviating guilt. That was my emphasis."
Film and audio works by Metzger have been added to the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.
Radley Metzger died of undisclosed causes in New York City on Friday, March 31, 2017 at the age of 88.
In 1977, Metzger's film The Opening of Misty Beethoven was the recipient of the first Adult Film Association of America awards for Best Direction (as Henry Paris), Best Film, and Best Actor (Jamie Gillis)
In 2002, Metzger's film The Opening of Misty Beethoven won Best Classic Release on DVD by the Adult Film Association of America.
In 2011, Metzger's film work was the subject of a retrospective at the UCLA Film and Television Archive.
In 2014, Metzger's film work was the subject of a retrospective at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
- The Dirty Girls (1965)
- Carmen, Baby (1967)
- Therese and Isabelle (1968)
- Camille 2000 (1969)
- The Lickerish Quartet (1970)
- Score (1972)
- Naked Came the Stranger (1975)
- The Opening of Misty Beethoven (1975)
- The Image (1975)
- The Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann (1975)
- Barbara Broadcast (1977)
- The Cat and the Canary (1977)
- Art film
- American erotica
- American pornography
- Erotic photography
- Film censorship in the United States
- Golden Age of Porn