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Venus and Adonis offers a playful retelling of the Classical myth. Filmed at Chicago's North Avenue Beach, filmmaker Tom Palazzolo plays the handsome young Adonis who is seduced by Venus, the goddess of love, depicted by Natalie Jarnstedt (billed as "Autka").
The film begins with views of downtown Chicago shot from a river tour boat, followed by shots of marble sculptures and fountains. We are then introduced to Adonis (Palazzolo)—"the perfect male - except for a sinus condition"—who walks along North Avenue Beach with his radio. Adonis lounges along the shore as the beautiful Venus (Jarnstedt) emerges from the water surrounded by zephyrs. The camera lingers on the bodies of beach-goers as classical music plays. Venus chases a bashful Adonis through the shallows of Lake Michigan, eventually leading him to a beach blanket, where they playfully tussle. The couple's flirtation is brought to an end when the leather-clad Wild Boars street gang (Barbara Scharres and John Heinz) chase and eventually beat Adonis to death. A message in the sand reads "Adonis nipped in the bud." A mournful Venus gives him a kiss goodbye.
The film was declared "obscene" by the Chicago Police Censor Board (later reversed by the city's Motion Picture Appeal Board) and premiered at Second City's Aardvark Cinematheque in a screening dedicated to censored works. In his review of the program, critic Roger Ebert wrote, "Palazzolo's film is funny, clever, not too long, and good viewing for the entire family at an early evening hour. It proposes to update the legend of the title characters, and does so with at least one moment of genius, when Venus emerges from Lake Michigan in her bikini" (Chicago Sun-Times, Jan 22, 1967).
18 min 58 sec
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