The Image (1998) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The Image (1975), also known as The Punishment of Anne, has been credited with being one of the best hard-core films of all time, the best S&M films ever, and one of Radley Metzger's best works. The film lives up to its press, and there are lots of sexy images to enjoy.

The film is based on the novel L'Image by "Jean de Berg", and is faithful to the original work. It uses the same narrative structure of every version I have seen of the story of O, where most of the film is narrated, in this case by male lead Carl Parker, it is broken into chapters, and there is little actual dialogue. This, of course, prevents the need for lots of costly looping and trying to record live sound, but also helps set the correct tone and context for Dominance/Submission/Bondage/Discipline, which can come off as exploitive and just plain cruel if not properly handled.

Parker, as Jean, is a writer who has finally finished a short story that gave him fits, and is out in the world again at a party. He meets old friend Claire (Marilyn Roberts), but is attracted to a young woman he has never seen. She seems to have some kind of bond with Claire, and, at the end of the party, he discovers that she is named Anne, and is indeed Claire's slave. The rest of the film, broken into segments, chronicles the ways in which Anne is used and controlled by Claire and Jean.


Marilyn Robert (Claire)- Breasts and a hint of bush being dominated at the end of the film by Jean.

Mary Mendum (Anne): - Full Frontal, Bondage, Bush close-ups (some of them involving teasing her with a rose outdoors),  Jean stuffs Anne's pussie with vegetables under the table in a restaurant. Anne peeing outdoors in a public rose garden with Jean and Claire watching. Anne giving head to Jean

Clerk: Anne giving head to the Clerk in a 3-way in the dressing room, Clerk giving head to Jean.

Metzger was a serious director and made many excellent films before turning to hard-core, and his life-long love of film carried over to his porn efforts, both in technical quality, and in artistic achievement. This film was lovingly restored from the original camera negatives, and is a nearly perfect transfer. This release marks the first time the film has been available on home video in the uncut version. Metzger has fashioned a fetish masterpiece that sizzles throughout, but also explores the concept of the exchange of power, and the close relationship between pleasure and pain with insight and sensitivity.

Anne is played by Mary Mendum, and The Image came immediately following her appearance in the Broadway version of Hair.

This is a must own for anyone interested in the fetishes portrayed (graphic oral sex, bondage, whipping, and urination), and also for those who would like to see what quality porn can look like. If we used a different rating system, I would award 4 stars, but, as a hard-core with no appeal to those who dislike the genre, the proper grade is C+.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • isolated musical score

  • widescreen anamorphic format, 1.78:1

Scoop's notes in yellow:

  • Note that IMDb is incorrect in attributing this film to Henry Paris, Metzger's hard-core pseudonym. Metzger himself points out "Henry Paris wasn't conceived until the year following The Image"
  • Metzger himself was a serious film buff, ala Peter Bogdanovich. He also had a good education, and a grounding in legitimate theater, making him one of the most intelligent and cultured men ever to make fuck films. His own films are pretty much in the mainstream tradition of European art films, except that they exhibit a different balance between sex and art, sex being raised to the forefront and awarded the position of raison d'etre in Radley's films. His medium-core "Lickerish Quartet", which he also wrote, is an homage to Pirandello. I would venture a guess that he's probably the only pornographer who can even spell "Pirandello", let alone quote him.
  • The two great works in the 20th century literature of dominance/submission were written by women. The Story of O was written by "Pauline Reage", a pseudonym for Dominique Aury. L'Image was ostensibly written by "Jean de Berg" - the name of the man who narrates the film as well as the novel. In reality, Mr de Berg is no Mr at all, but Catherine Rstakian, who became somewhat better known as Catherine Robbe-Grillet after she married the avant garde novelist and filmmaker, Alain Robbe-Grillet. She herself was a dominatrix, and husband Alain used sadomasochistic themes throughout his own work. Some three decades later, Catherine wrote another dominance/submission book called Women's Rites, this time using the nom de plume of "Jeanne de Berg" - simply the feminized version of "Jean de Berg".

The Critics Vote

  • no major reviews online.


The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb has some mathematical errors in their report on this film. They say, for example, that 12 men have voted, with a numerical average score of 4.1, which can't be because the lowest 12 votes on the list average 6.83!!
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+ (both reviewers). One of the most stylish, intelligent, artistic, technically excellent porno films ever made.

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