Resurrection of Eve (1973)
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Less atmospheric but considerably more plot-driven than GREEN DOOR, EVE once again tells its story from the woman's point of view, a still revolutionary concept in the very early '70s. Played as a very grown up 12-year old by one shot wonder Nancy Welch, Eve Goodman was molested in an indelible sequence that manages to walk the fine line between shocking and downright salacious by suitably scary-looking Dale Meador as a sailor friend of her dead dad, scarring the girl for life. As a young woman, she's shy and retiring but still manages to catch the eye of womanizing radio deejay Frank Paradise, impressively acted by Matthew Armon, who dumps his sexually adventurous girlfriend Kandi (the delightful Kandi Jones, who did a few more barely remembered flicks around that time with self-explanatory titles like BOTTOM BUSTERS and DENTAL NURSE and was one of Alex De Renzy's notorious LITTLE SISTERS along with Clair Dia) and asks her to move in with him. Now portrayed by Mimi Morgan, an extremely reliable second stringer until Sam Weston cast her in the lead for his unjustly overlooked MY FIRST TIME, she has been both fan and platonic friend to up 'n' coming black boxer Johnnie Keyes. But Frank wrongfully suspects more and his jealousy leads to Eve's car crash that leaves her disfigured. Extensive plastic surgery eventually turns her into superstar Marilyn Chambers, a vision of loveliness so overpowering that Frank proposes to her while still in hospital. Hardly a one woman man by nature, he quickly tires of home life however and suggests swinging to his initially reluctant spouse. Over the course of several group sex parties, she grows to enjoy the experience more than her husband had anticipated, another (welcome ?) reminder of the old adage to be very careful just what you wish for. As Eve makes love to Johnnie in a neat twist (the supposed adultery that lead to her accident now the tool of her second "resurrection" as a fully independent woman, remember this movie was made on the cusp of the '70s, with the previous decade's much heralded sexual freedom still in full swing), Frank realizes he no longer has any control over her and has indeed lost her forever as Eve's scathing last line drives home.
Sex scenes are generally short but realistically portrayed during the film's first hour, including an absence of cum shots, with progressively kinky orgy stuff taking up the final third. Eagle-eyed viewers can spot performers like Tyler Reynolds, Jon Martin, Mark Ellinger and Curt McDowell (star and director respectively of the cult favorite LUNCH), the latter two providing the fleeting to the point of - intentionally - subliminal gay coupling during the movie's climax. As on GREEN DOOR and several subsequent Mitchell masterpieces, the exquisite cinematography comes courtesy of Jon Fontana, also credited as co-director on this occasion. An original song-filled soundtrack by Richard Wynkoop runs the gamut from preachy to poignant but frequently adds to the film's effectiveness as well. The greatest attraction remains Chambers however, taken to task at the time for proving herself only a barely adequate actress (contemporary critics' words, not mine) following her silent GREEN DOOR performance. Save for the fact that critics probably liked to sharpen their knives as much then as they do know, eager to bring down a rising star, they also conveniently overlooked the evolution the character of Eve goes through. Morgan may in fact be entirely too pretty for "plain Eve" in view of the cruel comments her looks - or supposed lack thereof - beget, but her lack of confidence beautifully carries through into Chambers' acting, her bashful initial line readings perfectly synchronized with the part as conceived. It was nothing less than a full-blown stroke of genius on part of the Mitchells to cast her opposite Armon, who had extensive theatrical experience and whose assured thesping effectively intimidated the young actress who was still feeling her way as befitting her character. Chambers conspicuously lacks the professionalism here that would make her so appealing in later stages of her awesome career - spanning the likes of Cronenberg's RABID and the underestimated spy farce ANGEL OF H.E.A.T. as well as her early '80s adult classics INSATIABLE and UP 'N' COMING, both by Stu Segall a/k/a "Godfrey Daniels" - but replaces it with something she subsequently and inevitably lost along the way, namely innocence and sincerity. I find her extremely touching in this role. The orgies actually prove beneficial for Eve (more signs of the times...) as they make her face up to her newfound attractiveness and sex appeal, engendering her liberation from the dominating male force in her life as personified by the tellingly, not unsympathetic but merely misguided Frank who's left lost and alone while his erstwhile trophy wife flourishes. She is Woman, hear her roar !
The most bizarre thing about this film is that Eve is played by three different actresses! When the film starts off, she's just a girl so obviously a different actress for her younger and older years was required, but why have the whole car accident/reconstruction thing going on? It's even more bizarre when you consider that Marilyn Chambers as the final Eve looks nothing like the previous two played by Nancy Welch and Mimi Morgan respectively. Anyway...I guess it's not too important. Marilyn Chambers is the main actress of the three and she's excellent in her role. Nice looking actress and she actually has some acting talent too. Matthew Armon stars alongside her and also gives a good performance. Naturally the most important thing about this film is the sex and there's certainly plenty of it! Since the core plot focuses on group sex you can expect a lot of that too and the orgy scenes are very well done. The directors also pay a lot of attention to background detail and there are a lot of scenes that feature couples randomly getting it on in the background. The sex is also rather erotic, which isn't always the case with adult cinema. Overall, Resurrection of Eve is up there with The Punishment of Anne and Through the Looking Glass as one of the best porn flicks of the seventies and porn fans won't want to miss it!
** (out of 4)
The Mitchell Brothers follow-up to their BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR is certainly more ambitious in terms of a story but that doesn't mean we're going to get a good film. In the movie we meet Eve, a shy woman who suffers a horrible car crash that leaves her face mutilated. We then meet Eve after the wreck when her rather lousy boyfriend tries to "resurrect" her sexuality by making her join a club of swingers. When I read reviews calling the story to this film excellent and more thought provoking than most adult movies it's probably a good idea to highlight the "adult movie" thing. The reason I say this is that the story here is extremely well when compared to any movie with the exception of those bump 'n grind flicks scattered throughout this golden age of porn. With that said, I'll give this film credit for trying to tell a decent story but in the end the story is just downright stupid and it's hard to believe those just wanting sex would be entertained by this and those wanting some sort of story are going to be disappointed as well. The film has three different women playing Eve: Nancy Welch as the teenager, Mimi Morgan as the pre-wreck and then Marilyn Chambers as the post-wreck. I'm really not sure what the entire point of this was unless star Chambers didn't want to appear in every scene in the film. The teenage thing kicks our film off as the 12-year-old Eve gets sex lessons from her white trash stepfather in a sequence that is so corny that you can overlook the ugly subject matter and just laugh. I'm not sure laughter is what they were going for but the situation is just so corny, the dialogue so bad and the acting so silly that I couldn't help but laugh. Chambers is going to be the main reason people watch this thing and she's certainly extremely beautiful and the performances isn't that bad either. The story being told here never really makes much sense outside of the lousy boyfriend wanting her to open up for some wilder sex. The majority of the running time features less than explicit sex scenes with only brief shots of the hardcore footage. These scenes are often filmed in a way where we see very little, which would give me the thought that your typical bump 'n grind crowd wouldn't enjoy this. The more graphic stuff happens towards the end when the orgy stuff begins to happen but by then I was already yawning and checking my watch to see how much more there was.
The melodramatic storyline of the car crash and plastic surgery is a bit of a red herring, silly and unrealistic although not more so that the plots of some 1940s Hollywood women's pictures (compare A Woman's Face). I suspect that the film was begun without Chambers, even without being a hardcore film, and then changed to cash in on the success of Green Door (Chambers turns in a pretty decent performance in the role, btw). As it stands, the sex in The Resurrection of Eve is hardly aimed at a masturbatory audience, being rather an intrinsic bone of contention in the plot and what's more the nexus of the issues which face the characters. And these characters do have issues not just around whether they will be a traditional, monogamous couple or a pair of swingers (although this is a bone of contention) but also in terms of "surviving" child abuse, dealing with white male jealousy, chauvinism and sadism. The plot, which switches between Eve and Frank, is ultimately her story of sexual liberation, and things end with her putting into practise his greatest fears (that she wants to screw her black male friend) and announcing that their marriage is "over." The liberation of Eve has a superficially feminist tinge to it, and it is interesting how many of the classics of 70s porn problematize and attempt to "solve" female attitudes to sexual satisfaction. Eve the character is a creation of men, and although she learns that what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and we see her not merely coming around to the idea that they should swing but surpassing her husband in her taste for it, we have to take this with a pinch of salt, as it suits the men who made it a little too much to have a woman come round to their point of view, punishment of Frank the character notwithstanding. Yet it's fascinating that the makers of porn films should have felt the need to engage in these questions at all; many of them did, and The Resurrection of Eve is one of the most sophisticated. Shorn of its hardcore shots and with better production values, a script such as this would be seen as a perfectly respectable contribution to post-1960s cinema, as insightful as a film by Paul Mazursky or Milos Foreman's Taking Off.
The film is shot in Day-Glo colours which assault the eye of the viewer with their extremity. The narrative is tricksy, especially in the first half hour, as the past and present of Eve, portrayed by the 3 actresses, are portrayed in unison. There are some odd digressions, such as the shot of a movie concession stand employee pocketing change, a fat woman plopping turds into a loo whilst she speaks to Eve on the phone and, oddest of all, a long interlude at a Nickelodeon show. The hospital scene are risible, and I suspect were an inspiration for John Waters when he planned Dawn Davenport's disfigurement in Female Trouble; certainly the fat black nurse is a Waters-like figure. All in all, a curate's egg, and proof positive if nothing else that at least some of the makers of 70s porn were serious about making genuine erotic feature films as opposed to mere loops strung together around a flimsy plot.