Joe Sarno is a name that is synonymous with the era of 1960s sexploitation thanks to films like Sin in the Suburbs, Moonlighting Wives and All the Sins of Sodom. But in the 70s, his career would become progressively more hardcore with titles like Deep Throat Part II and a slew of titles directed under pseudonyms like Karl Anderson including Slippery When Wet and the subject of this review, A Touch of Genie.
A Touch of Genie sort of straddles the lines of Sarno’s sensational career, playing out like a more tame softcore sexploitation title with plenty of hardcore action shots thanks to a cast including Tina Russell, Harry Reems, Marc Stevens and Eric Edwards. The plot is clearly a riff on I Dream of Jeannie, which had been of the air for a few years by the time of the film’s release, featuring Chris Jordan as a genie found by Melvin (Douglas Stone) who can grant him any wish he desires. And, naturally, he desires to become porn stars like Marc Stevens and Harry Reems in order to seduce Tina Russell. We’ve all been there, right?
With A Touch of Genie, Sarno also trades out the suburban sleaze of Sin In the Suburbs, The Swap and How They Make It and Moonlighting Wives for a gritty 70s NYC, full of city anxieties and excesses that were fodder for more mainstream filmmakers at the time like Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen – and it also features a surprising Jewish angle, making it strangely similar to the humor of the latter, including plenty of Yiddish terms for male anatomy. A Touch of Genie may not be one of Sarno’s most revered films, but it’s undoubtedly his funniest and the sex is also ample and well shot (per usual). If you’re unfamiliar with Sarno’s work, this is a great place to start.
Vinegar Syndrome have brought A Touch of Genie to Blu-ray for the first time, restored from its 35mm camera negative. The results are striking, with a rich representation of 1970s NYC – including some gorgeous street footage of the era – that remains organic and void of damage throughout. The DTS HD 1.0 track is similarly solid, with some great sound effects and music coming through clearly. Great presentation all around.
Supplements start with “A Touch of Eric”, a twenty three minute interview with Eric Edwards which covers his career at large, working with Sarno and touches on his work on A Touch of Genie as well. Edwards is anecdotal and seems very eager to share details of his long career in the industry. Next up is “All About Joe”, a twenty five minute interview with Sarno’s biographer Michael Bowen which contextualizes A Touch of Genie into Sarno’s career overall and discusses his body of work in general. Both should be of great interest to fans. A theatrical trailer is also included.
A Touch of Genie is an unexpectedly hilarious (and sort of sweet) entry into Sarno’s large body of work that makes a great entry point for those unfamiliar. Vinegar Syndrome’s presentation is flawless and the supplements are strong. Highly recommended.