Mae Jordan (Laura Gemser), a photographer from Europe known as Emanuelle to her readers, is on an aeroplane journey to Nairobi for an assignment there when her daydreaming is interrupted by a couple getting amorous across the aisle. Having mixed feelings about this, she gets up to ask the stewardess something when she falls into conversation with one of the other passengers who tells her that he is going to Africa to become a missionary. Emanuelle is shocked that such a handsome young chap should be throwing his life away like that, but is her way of life any better?
Emanuelle is a decadent sort, you see, sleeping her way through the idle rich both male and female, much like the lead character of another film. That would be Emmanuelle, then, but please note that director and co-writer Bitto Albertini got around any copyright problems by removing a letter "M" from his protagonist's name. So completely different then? Not really, as this film, the first in a series to make Gemser a sexploitation star, was pretty slavish in its imitation of the French moneyspinner which starred Sylvia Kristel (Gemser had appeared with her in Emmanuelle 2 the same year as this).
So what you get for your attention is a series of couplings with our heroine at the centre of them, all amidst some attractive, travelogue-style scenery to add that touch of class. And in truth, it could have been sleazier (some versions include hardcore inserts) yet it's not exactly wholesome for all that, with Emanuelle's lame excuses for her promiscuous behaviour dressed up as a philosophy that will convince nobody. Nobody that cannot admit they're watching this simply to see some naked flesh, at any rate, and that is the purpose here.
Certainly Black Emanuelle (Gemser is actually Indonesian) delivers on that promise, but it does grow monotonous after a while, with the title character apparently never meeting a man she did not like, honestly, you can get quite ill thinking about the relentlessness of her sexual exploits - including an entire men's hockey team. We meet the wealthy types she will be getting together with at a party sequence near the beginning, which predictably ends with almost everyone jumping into the pool, but does allow Emanuelle an opportunity to get to know the husband of her hostess better.
He is Gianni (Angelo Infanti) and there is an attraction there you will not be shocked to learn, but Emanuelle does not wish to engage with him just anywhere - no, the situation must be right. Or it is at first, for after about half an hour she is sleeping with a man who picked her up hitchhiking, simply to spite Gianni who she overhears on the telephone calling her a tramp. Mind you, he might have had a point, yet the composure of Gemser allows us to believe we're watching something with a bit of quality rather than the semi-porno cash-in that it really is. For many, she is the reason to sit through the increasingly tawdry Black Emanuelle instalments, and if you like films where the female lead's catchphrase might as well be "Oops, all my clothes have fallen off!" then this is worth a look. Music by Nico Fidenco.