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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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MomentMoment

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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Xcitement!Xcitement!

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

News19706 mins Location: Exeter

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

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VampireVampire

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

News19709 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

News19805 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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ShirleyShirley

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

News19664 mins Location: Plymouth

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

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IrresponsiblesIrresponsibles

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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AloneAlone

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

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