AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
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A Labor of Love
Director: Robert Flaxman (Dir)
Release Date:   27 Jul 1976
Premiere Information:   Premiere: 27 Jul 1976, Chicago, IL; Los Angeles opening: Nov 1976
Production Date:   Nov--Dec 1974
Duration (in mins):   67
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Cast:   Jerry Goodman (Prostitute (arm wrestler))  
    Anna Welsh (Production manager)  
    Robin Rutledge (Cameraman)  
    Joel Cohn (Runner)  
    Larry Hovde (Grip)  
    Mark Lynch (Grip)  
    Craig Summer (Gaffer)  
    Charles Zeiler (Soundman)  
    Henry Cheharbaschi (Director)  
    Deborah Dan (Star actress)  
    William Derl-Davis (Acting coach)  
    Ronald Dean (Lead actor (husband))  
    Leslie Peller (Make-up man)  
    Sissel Hansen (Script girl/Hooker)  
    Alex Boas (Producer)  
    Betty Thomas (Sleeping girl)  
  Male prostitutes: Hugh Jorgan (Gladiator)  
    John Smilely (Chessman)  
    Mert Rich (Monk)  
    Mark Root (Businessman)  
    Fred DeGrazio (Playboy)  
    John Michaels (Greaser)  
    Len Ozwald (Father figure)  
  [and] Wally Friedricks (Fat gladiator)  
    Bill Wallace (Second cameraman)  
    Marigray Jobes (Religious woman)  
    Amber Anders (Young daughter)  
    Peter Belden (Fill in [sex scene stand-in])  
    Ruth Rutledge (Production assistant)  
    Susan Anderson (Production stills)  
    Paul Fredricks (Male pick-up)  

Summary: In Chicago, IL, during November 1974, producer-director-writer Henri Charbakshi is shooting an X-rated film called The Last Affair. His production manager, Anna Welsh, describes it as a “combination [Federico] Fellini, [Francois] Truffaut, and [Ingmar] Bergman” film—a reference to three of Europe’s most respected directors. Acting coach William Derl-Davis explains that he has been working with the principal actors for over two months, and now their performances are in Charbakshi’s hands. In an early scene, Deborah Dan, the star, watches children playing in a park on a cold day. Charbakshi apologizes for beginning his film in the dead of winter, but he was only recently able to raise enough money. His investors have demanded that The Last Affair be X-rated, with up to sixty percent of the film devoted to explicit sex, but he bargained them down to twenty percent. In the next scene, Deborah and her “husband,” Ronald Dean, walk through an alley on their way to a brothel. Charbakshi says that prostitutes have fascinated him since his youth in Iran. He has already used prostitute characters in a couple of short films, but for a change, part of The Last Affair takes place in a male brothel for female customers. Make-up man Leslie Peller prepares an actor for his scene, and photographer Robin Rutledge and his crew set up their lights, while extras in various costumes wait. Actress Marigray Jobes, playing a woman who masturbates in front of a man dressed as a monk, says later that she was “dumb enough” to think she could do her scene “artistically,” but once it started, she only wanted to get it over with. In another scene, a baby-faced actress named Amber Anders performs with Len Ozwald, a graying “father figure,” in an incest fantasy, but Amber is uncomfortable. Len explains afterward that he and Amber had discussed the scene over lunch before the scene was scheduled to be shot, and he thought there would be no problem, but Amber found a new boyfriend in the meantime, and now she has had second thoughts. She agreed only to be Len’s passive sexual partner, and Len confesses that he was uncomfortable doing the scene. Anxious to get her pay check and leave, Amber refuses to talk about it. Jerry Goodman, playing the male prostitute that Deborah’s character chooses, brags that “heavy sex” is an “integral part” of his life, but separately, Deborah explains that she and Jerry have no chemistry together. She dislikes his attitude and accuses him of having a substance abuse problem. Jerry complains that Deborah is a prima donna who is “not my type,” and he was especially put off when she told him she was having her period. Their sex scene together begins late at night, and Deborah refuses to perform until a documentary film crew leaves the room. Later, Peter Belden, whose father owns the mansion in which they are filming, says he was recruited around two o’clock in the morning to “fill in” for Jerry, who was unable to complete his scene with Deborah. Peter is happy to comply, because the crew is using his bedroom and the only way he can get his bed back is to finish the scene. The next day, Deborah is more temperamental than usual. When William Derl-Davis berates her for not behaving professionally, she threatens to leave, and complains that she feels “dehumanized” and “defeminized.” Deborah’s sex scene today is with Paul Fredricks, and she has better chemistry with him, but she tells Charbakshi that the other night’s scene with Jerry went on too long. She explains how he can get a better performance out of her and Paul today by shooting the entire sequence in a single take, instead of interrupting them every few minutes and starting over. Afterward, Deborah is relatively happy with the scene, but declares she will never do anything like this again. 

Production Company: Flaxgold Productions  
Production Text: Flaxgold presents
A film by Robert Flaxman and Daniel Goldman
Distribution Company: Flaxman Productions  
  Nu-Image Films  
Director: Robert Flaxman (Dir)
  Daniel Goldman (Dir)
Producer: Daniel Goldman (Prod)
  Robert Flaxman (Prod)
  Jack Behrend (Assoc prod)
  John Iltis (Assoc prod)
Photography: Robert Flaxman (Photog)
  Movie-lab Hollywood Inc. (35mm prints)
Film Editor: Robert Flaxman (Ed)
  Daniel Goldman (Ed)
  Kathryn Schubert (Conformed by)
  My Sister's Cutting Room (Ed facilities)
Sound: Daniel Goldman (Sd)
  David Tekler (Sd)
  Sonart D/B (Sd mix)
  William Reis (Mixer)
Special Effects: Design in Motion (Titles)
Production Misc: Behrend's Inc. (Film equip)
MPAA Rating: R
Country: United States
Language: English

Music:
Songs:
Source Text:

Physical Properties: Sd:
  col:

 
Genre: Documentary
 
Subjects (Major): Brothels
  Human sexuality
  Motion pictures, Documentary
  Pornography and pornographers
  Sex
 
Subjects (Minor): Actors and actresses
  Confession (Religion)
  Fathers and daughters
  Incest
  Masturbation
  Monks
  Sex role

Note: Opening credits begin with the following information: “NOTE: You are hearing the motor noise of an unsilenced motion picture camera,” and “Not one word in this documentary has been scripted or rehearsed.” End credits begin with this information: “You have just seen selected moments from the filming of The Last Affair. Months later, the producers of The Last Affair rescripted their film and photographed new scenes. Their film, now in release, contains no explicit sex scenes and is rated 'R'.”
       Henri Charbakshi, the producer-director-writer of The Last Affair, is billed in A Labor of Love as “Henry Cheharbaschi.” Stars Ron Dean and Debbie Dan are credited here as “Ronald Dean” and “Deborah Dan.” The Last Affair was Dean’s first film role in what became a long career. Actress Marigray Jobes was stabbed to death in March 1976, according to the 27 Jul 1976 Chicago Tribune.
       In documents delivered to AFI Catalog and in personal statements made in Jan 2014, producer-director-photographer-editor Robert Flaxman said he previewed an X-rated version of A Labor of Love in Feb 1976 at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. The film premiered at two Chicago, IL, theaters on 27 Jul 1976, and despite its X rating, Roger Ebert of the Sun-Times and Gene Siskel of the Tribune reviewed it. However, before Flaxman and his filmmaking partner, Daniel Goldman, distributed the film, they “took Labor to the MPAA rating board and after a few snips Labor received an R-rating.” Flaxman said he removed about one minute of footage. The gentler version allowed the film to be reviewed by “family-friendly” newspapers, including the LAT. Labor of Love opened on the West Coast in Venice, CA, in Nov 1976.
       Ironically, Henri Charbakshi later removed the X-rated scenes from The Last Affair that had inspired Flaxman to make A Labor of Love. Charbakshi shot new scenes, including a bar fight, and re-edited the film for an R rating. The Last Affair premiered several months later than A Labor of Love, and played only in a Chicago theater partially owned by Charbakshi himself.

 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Chicago Tribune   27 Jul 1976.   
Chicago Sun-Times   16 Jan 1976   p. 64.
Chicago Sun-Times   27 Jul 1976   p. 41.
Milwaukee Journal   24 Oct 1976.   
Los Angeles Times   18 Nov 1976   Section G, p. 30.
Variety   18 Feb 1976.   
Variety   17 Mar 1976.   

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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