Recently had the chance to catch-up on the first season of the HBO drama series THE DEUCE, which looks at life amongst the denizens of New York's 42nd Street in the early-seventies, a decade before the big clean-up started and the area was rife with street prostitution, drugs, crime and corruption, and hardcore XXX movies were moving from the back room peep booths to the once-grand old cinemas which populated Times Square.
Of course I only know this period from what I have read in books and seen in movies and documentaries, so how accurate it may be in capturing the zeitgeist of the times may be open to debate, but THE DEUCE certainly brings the period to life in a visually impressive way (apart from the odd dodgy 70s wig on some of the male cast members). Created by the team behind the acclaimed THE WIRE, there are certainly some impressive names behind THE DEUCE that lend it some extra gravitas and credence. Noted crime fiction author Megan Abbott serves as a story consultant and also wrote one of the episodes, while the folks behind The Rialto Report (a remarkable website/podcast which documents the golden age of adult sinema) worked on it as creative consultants.
Maggie Gyllenhaal (who also executive produces the series) is excellent in the lead role as the hooker who finds a much-needed mental and creative outlet behind the camera, and she has some quite brave and daring scenes. I am not a huge James Franco fan and was dubious about him playing not one but two roles in this (as twin brothers), but I warmed to his characters and performances after a couple of episodes. And of course there is just the sheer joy of seeing all the Times Square cinema marquees recreated and advertising everything from Dave Friedman and Herschell Gordon Lewis films to THE OMEGA MAN and Argento's THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMMAGE (given an extra M here).
Looking forward to the second season which premieres in September and apparently jumps ahead five years, picking up the story and characters in 1977.