The Pleasure Principle

From Victorian voyeurism to Soho striptease: how a hidden film industry emerged to satisfy the sexual appetites of (male) viewers.

Sex and cinema have been bawdy bedfellows almost since the first flickering frames hit a screen. As early as 1896, saucy shorts were already being cranked out to titillate voyeuristic - and invariably male - Victorian viewers. Time and tastes have moved on, and taboos have been swept away, but sex remained a constant preoccupation, and filmmakers continued to explore, enact and exploit our deepest, darkest desires - often attracting the attention of the censor in the process. This highly-combustible collection revisits and contextualises these sometimes scandalous, oft-disreputable films, incorporating 'mondo'-style exposés of Soho striptease, voyeuristic studies of British nudists and tragic tales of good girls gone bad - and much more besides.

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A Woman UndressingA Woman Undressing

Pornography18961 minsSilent

A treat for Victorian voyeurs - and Britain's oldest erotic film?

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Dream DollDream Doll

Animation & Artists Moving Image197912 minsSilent

A relationship liable to blow up at any moment is at the heart of this animated short about a man and an inflatable sex doll

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Animation & Artists Moving Image196912 mins

An intimate, unusual encounter with the progressive narrative of orgasm.

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The Sex VictimsThe Sex Victims

Horror197337 mins

A truck driver thinks he’s in luck when he meets a strange girl by the road in this supernatural horror short

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Beauty in BriefBeauty in Brief

Drama19554 minsSilent Location: London

A young bride-to-be models a modish nylon nightie before a voyeuristic camera in this silent 1950s striptease film.

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Pornography19605 minsSilent

Glamour goddess Pamela Green reveals all in a key ‘60s striptease collaboration with George Harrison Marks.

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Grecian Princess and the Slave GirlGrecian Princess and the Slave Girl

19725 minsSilent

Erotica doesn't get much lower budget than this musty 8mm reel made for the home movie market

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Exeter School of StripteaseExeter School of Striptease

Current affairs19706 mins Location: Exeter

Teaching exotic dance moves has a reporter going with the flow.

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Horror196410 mins Location: Soho

Soho 'glamour' filmmaker George Harrison Marks plays girl-hungry vampire Count Dracula III in this strange striptease short

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Burlesque QueenBurlesque Queen

Documentary19616 minsSilent Location: Soho

Tassel-spinning showgirl Tina stars in this rare 60s British burlesque stage show reel.

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Off the ShoulderOff the Shoulder

Amateur film19514 minsSilent

Odd 1950s short film which simply celebrates the contours of the female upper torso

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Pleasure PillPleasure Pill

Drama20024 mins

In this 3 minute drama, Kath, played by Sharon Morgan, discovers the drug-enhanced delights of leeks and lamp posts.

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Fiona Richmond at her PleasureFiona Richmond at her Pleasure

Current affairs19709 mins Location: Plymouth

Fiona Richmond is interviewed about her Men Only column and attitudes towards sex.

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The Look of Lingerie at Castle DrogoThe Look of Lingerie at Castle Drogo

Current affairs19805 mins Location: Castle Drogo

Lingerie models dress for a titillating chase around Castle Drogo.

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Dear Margery BoobsDear Margery Boobs

Animation & Artists Moving Image19775 mins

Agony Aunt finds her romantic match in a man with increasingly complicated sex fantasies.

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Talent Contest (Fun Palace outtakes)Talent Contest (Fun Palace outtakes)

Amateur film196310 minsSilent Location: London

A compelling glimpse inside an unnamed East End pub in 1963 where a talent show takes place featuring singers and strippers.

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Inside Film19686 mins

An unedited interview with striptease artiste 'Shirley', conducted by broadcaster Bernard Braden.

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Union Street on a Saturday NightUnion Street on a Saturday Night

Current affairs19664 mins Location: Plymouth

Punters gather for a night out on Plymouth’s famed Union Street.

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Documentary drama192939 minsSilent Location: Welwyn Garden City

This striking female-focused silent drama muses on the long-term perils of sexually transmitted diseases

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Once Upon a SundayOnce Upon a Sunday

Amateur film196910 mins Location: Leeds

The disappointment of youthful love, as the gritty realism of the early 1960s stands in stark contrast with the fantasies of the later 1960s.

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Merry Moments in FranceMerry Moments in France

19073 minsSilent

Lively Gallic goings on in an early film sound experiment

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Chinese CheckersChinese Checkers

Animation & Artists Moving Image196513 mins

Two masked women make love while playing the board game.

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Nude Woman by WaterfallNude Woman by Waterfall

192011 minsSilent

A model poses in and out of her diaphanous shift in this risqué experiment from British cinema pioneer Claude Friese-Greene

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Uncharted SeaUncharted Sea

Documentary drama192839 minsSilent

This silent 1920s public information film warns of the dire consequences that will arise from visiting prostitutes

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Animation & Artists Moving Image196313 mins

A girl alone in her room, smoking, putting on make-up, masturbating.

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Stranger in the CityStranger in the City

Documentary196122 mins Location: London

Pay a voyeuristic visit to the striptease bars on some of London's shadow-shrouded backstreets in this 1961 short film

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Action in Slow MotionAction in Slow Motion

19433 minsSilent

A naked woman cavorts innocently at the seaside in this 1940s nudist film, strictly for artists and students only

More Pleasure Principle films in our Subscription collection.

More Pleasure Principle films in our Rentals collection.

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