Perhaps the ultimate example of Tinto Brass’ post-Caligula work, All Ladies Do It is the film that established a style that would continue throughout his later work – a sense of sexual freedom and joy (there’s no guilt in a Brass film except from characters who are needlessly repressed), explicit scenes that sit somewhere between hardcore and softcore and his fixation on the female ass, which is front and centre in this movie.
Claudia Koll, looking oddly timeless in a film where everything else is very much of its time visually, plays Diana, happily married to Paolo (Paolo Lanza) for reasons that are hard to figure out – she has a far greater sexual appetite and he seems like a bit of a douche even before he starts having jealous fits. These are caused by the sexual confessions she arouses him with – fantasies (or so he thinks) about her conquests that get him hot and bothered. One of these involves a pervy artist who lives in a house filled with paintings of buttocks and who introduces Diana to the joys of anal sex. But when Paolo sees a hickey on her neck, he realises that her stories might actually be true. He throws her out, and she goes on a journey of sexual self-discovery, which includes a visit to a rave with the worst music you’ve ever heard for some pilled-up orgy action. But all the time, she really wants to win her husband back. Some people just don’t know when they are better off, I guess.
The film is a joyful sexual romp, taking place in an alternate universe where everyone (except Paolo) enjoys free love and sex is at the centre of everything – even the exotic lingerie shop where Diana works is a hotbed of lust, and it’s apparently perfectly normal to attend the reading of a will wearing a sheer top and no underwear. This celebratory sense of hedonism and sexual freedom is rather delicious – and the film seems to somehow represent the personal philosophy of the director. Certainly, it reflects his own sexual tastes more than any of his previous work – just as Russ Meyer (in many ways the closest filmmaker to Brass in terms of ideas, if not approach) made no bones about his fixation with breasts, so Brass here celebrates and fetishes the female posterior in a way that few people have done before or since. The opening titles play out over a close-up of Koll’s buttocks and the film is full of bending over, heads thrust between cheeks, anal sex and general ass-fixated sexiness involving the voluptuous cast. Like Meyer, Brass doesn’t have much time for skinny chicks – his women are well-rounded and curvaceous. And those people worried about the trend for hair removal will be delighted to know that everyone here is thoroughly hairy (Koll even sports armpit hair).
The sex scenes come as frequently as in any porn film, but Brass has his own unique style of shooting them that is first fully explored here. This film is certainly more graphic than you’d expect from standard softcore – the women spread their legs, there’s fairly graphic anal fingering and a brief hardcore scene involving a home movie. But the film doesn’t quite go all the way – while the men sport solid erections, these are all prosthetics (something else that Meyer also used in his later films) and so the sex scenes that they appear in are not ‘real’. But of course they are supposed to be the real thing, and so the line is rather blurred (and to confuse things more, there is a brief blowjob scene during the rave party that might be genuine). Given that the BBFC refused to allow a short hardcore sequence in previous Arrow release Score, it’s curious (but appreciated) that All Ladies Do It – surely a ‘sex work’ by their own standards – has been passed uncut in a longer version than previously seen.
All Ladies Do It is far from Brass’ best work – it’s not of the standard of Caligula or Salon Kitty, or even the later Miranda – but in a lot of ways, it is the definitive Brass movie. The fashions, hairstyles and atrocious music have dated it considerably (his period pieces feel much more modern, ironically), yet it remains the film you’d want to show someone as an example of what his films were about. Or what the director was about. And thanks to his directorial skills, his sexual peccadilloes and the presence of the always-astonishing Koll (who would later disown her work in such filth), the film is a fairly essential slice of Euro erotica.