X | 1h 28min | Adult | 7 April 1976 (France)
Having somehow gotten this film mixed up with Jack Deveau’s follow-up, DRIVE, I was disappointed to find no digressions into bargain-basement sci-fi. Instead, LEFT-HANDED offers a sensitive portrayal of a homosexual affair at the dawn of gay liberation.
We first meet Ray (Ray Frank), a handsome, long-haired New York artist type, as he cruises a nerdy young guy in a park restroom. Stopping by his friend Larry’s (Larry Burns) head shop afterward, he crosses paths with Bob (Robert Rikas), a handsome blonde who Larry assures Ray is straight.
Returning home, Ray fantasizes a sexual encounter with Bob while we simultaneously watch Bob make love to his girlfriend. Determining to make the handsome blonde, Ray contrives to meet him again at Larry’s and ask for a ride home. Inviting him inside, Ray seduces Bob after a few drinks, and the two end up making love.
Quickly, Bob begins ignoring his girlfriend and spending long weekends in the country with Ray, while Ray, lording his conquest over Larry, provokes his friend’s jealousy. As monotony begins to set in, Ray is tempted away by an invitation to an orgy at Larry’s. Most viewers won’t be too surprised by who else Larry saw fit to invite…
Handled at once deftly but with an eye for the experimental, LEFT-HANDED combines the best impulses of the early ’70s underground with a keen eye for naturalism. The limited number of locations never feels constrictive, as Deveau and his actors imbue them with such a keen sense of place that film feels like a time capsule 45 years later. While his roster of characters is similarly limited, Deveau also has a sharp eye for casting, scoring big with both Frank and Burns as emblems of the newly-liberated ’70s homosexual. If there’s any weak point, it’s Rikas, who comes off kind of dull, though even that aloofness fits his character. All the actors figures are suitably alluring and are well-shot by Deveau, with a particular highlight being a long, languid take of the gorgeous Frank trying on and then lounging around his apartment in a pair of deliciously revealing designer briefs.
A wonderful time capsule of the potential still held by pornographic cinema at the dawn of the ’70s, LEFT-HANDED is both serious and playful, a fascinating relic of a unique era of artistic and sexual liberation as well as a still-arousing porn film that features a troika of gorgeous studs. It may not have a cross-dressing Christopher Rage, but the film is well worth your time anyhow, and marks an auspicious debut for the talented Deveau.
Director: Jack Deveau
Stars: Ray Frank, Robert Rikas, Larry Burns
Release Date: 7 April 1976 (France)
Also Known As: Left Handed