I saw and enjoyed THE SEVEN SEDUCTIONS OF MADAME LAU theatrically back in first-run 30 years ago, and its more recent revival on DVD confirms it as a successful erotic film.
In fact we see here a clear distinction between eroticism and mere porn. MADAME LAU, as other commenters have noted, is deficient in several story areas but it delivers arousal stimulation, largely through the efforts of title star Annette Haven. When the dust finally settles she may emerge as the greatest of all porn stars, thanks to a combination of incredible beauty, acting talent, and sexual performance.
Odd credit on the DVD-R print I just watched is co-director accorded to a fictitious "Christie MacDonald", alongside Charles De Santos. No clue who that might be.
Shot with greater care and production values (nay-sayers criticizing the low lighting evidently did not see it theatrically; you can't judge from video alone) than the lion's share of porn, story begins creakily with failed slapstick humor involving pilot Richard Pacheco getting a blow job while at the controls, almost causing him to crash. Having stripper Carol Doda as the back-seat passenger to do reaction shots was a bad move, as she is an inexpressive no-show when it comes to films -should have stayed on the stage in Frisco. Her strictly softcore sex scenes later in the movie are strictly desultory.
A Shirley Bassey theme song entitled "The Temptress" is warbled, another touch you don't find in pirate-music-track XXX. Trio (including the fellatrix) arrives, blindfolded, at the remote mansion of Haven's Madame Lau, and she recites endless mumbo-jumbo about Pacheco's spiritual quest, sort of a roadshow Herman Hesse routine.
Negativists regarding Haven cast as an oriental miss the film's point: Madame Lau is a shape-shifter, which should be obvious in that in subsequent scenes Haven at her mirror transforms herself into all manner of women, even Kay Parker! The film quickly loses narrative steam when it falls into the standard, repetitive nature of seven sex scenes, one after another. Haven quizzes Pacheco on his greatest desires and his most formative memories, each of which gives rise to a different XXX tryst for our viewing pleasure.
This begins with a cleansing rite, as Haven oils up the both of them and gives Pacheco a fabulous softcore hand job, leading to fellatio, her riding him St. George style and a creative finish of chanting OM in yoga position, rather than the genre's usual money shot.
That sequence is pure eroticism and a powerful dovetailing of softcore and hardcore techniques. It virtually announces the purpose of the film -arousal, nothing more, nothing less. If that seems a puny artistic goal, consider the vast number, rounding off at well in excess of 99%, of soft & hard porn projects that fail to deliver.
Laura Lazare, the nonpareil beauty who later achieved stardom in the classic PURELY PHYSICAL, portrays Farrah Fawcett, supposedly stepping out of the pages of the 1978 Playboy Magazine pictorial Pacheco is perusing (excuse the alliteration in this paragraph!).
She does not speak at all, somewhat irritating Pacheco, but more than makes up for it in the sack. We see Lazare turn back into Haven at the end of the scene.
Pacheco cites BEYOND THE GREEN DOOR as a movie that particularly turned him on, and Haven becomes a female version of Johnnie Keyes, with false nose, black-face (and body) makeup job, and his iconic white cutout-crotch jumpsuit, remarkable work by makeup man David Clark, who had an exemplary career on A-grade porn shoots, including Pacheco's best movie NOTHING TO HIDE. Black Haven supervises group sex wherein four girls service Pacheco simultaneously, with Haven taking over at the end to give Rich the coup de grace. It is unfortunate that these actresses are uncredited.
Craving sexual overload, Pacheco is next taking place in an orgy, devolving into him humping in succession a string of beauties, each of whom turns into a mannequin while he's aboard. This XXX "Twilight Zone" segment is a bit cryptic, with a kinky touch of one girl wearing a mask, so that Pacheco ejaculates on the mask before she turns into Anne Francis/Kim Cattrall mode.
He next gets nostalgic, longing for his first girlfriend Lucy, and Haven is quite convincing dolled up in fuzzy sweater as a teenybopper having Pacheco pop her cherry in soft focus.
His mentor in sex is next presented in the form of employer Georgina Spelvin, humping a safe-sex-condom-ed Pacheco in a memorably erotic sequence.
Pacheco's final seduction is with his actress wife, as we see Haven become Kay Parker, our hero's true love. The DVD-R version ends abruptly with his money shot -I don't recall if the original theatrical version had a more elegant finish.
Kudos to Haven, De Santos and company, for the fine art of seducing a porn audience and sending its members off to masturbatory bliss. Hardly true enlightenment, but just what the doctor ordered.
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