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Embarrassing mix of S&M with comedy

Author: lor_ from New York, New York
3 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In mainstream cinema, Garry Marshall's film EXIT TO EDEN proved that bondage/S&M and comedy don't mix. It's such a stinker that it probably is only shown nowadays to embarrass Dana Delaney and Rosie O'Donnell at parties.

CALL ME ANGEL, SIR was a failed attempt to bring niche S&M material to mainstream Adult Cinemas by sugar coating the content with outright silliness. Result is a tedious sequence of WTF? moments.

I had enjoyed director David Davidson's romance SUMMER OF LAURA, like this movie a collaboration with Erica Eaton. But with ANGEL they apparently ended their behind-the-camera porn careers.

Jean Dalton stars as the 18-year-old title character Jody Angel, visiting her aunt Ange Lewis (hambone Ultra Max) in NYC. For me the highlight of the film was the opening, well-shot location footage of Columbus Circle and Lincoln Center as they looked 35 years ago.

Lewis is a "body broker", supposedly something of a sex therapist and Angel is anxious to learn the trade. Lewis is introed having sex with her slave Blue Kinsey, an untalented performer who goes uncredited (and untracked down by IMDb sleuths). The plot and characters are developed mainly in voice-over by Zebedy Colt, who does not appear in the on-screen action.

Eaton's florid dialog is embarrassing, with Ultra Max's extremely campy overacting not helping matters, as she keeps saying "My pretty" in emulation of Margaret Hamilton's witch in THE WIZARD OF OZ. Typical inanity: her order to her slave: "Eat me, you fool!".

SPOILERS AHEAD:

Film quickly goes off the deep end with an unrelated vignette starring Annie Sprinkle as Tracy Dixon, in love with frog prince Andy Green, who turns out to be dwarf Luis De Jesus, at first wearing a cheap frog's head. Their sex scene is distasteful as promised, and goes on forever, accompanied by tango music. Must have seemed funny on the set.

With pigtails, wearing braces and teddy bear in tow, Dalton does her patented underage-girl thing, playing opposite football stud Wade Nichols, who's scheduled to shoot a centerfold for Playgirl magazine. He's unsure of his size being adequate so Dalton uses a vacuum pump on his dick, sort of a mainstream version of the infamous footage in Curt McDowell's underground film THUNDERCRACK! She recites her tag line, "Call Me Angel, Sir" a couple of times for good measure.

Eaton pops up, styled quite unattractively, as a dominatrix who whips a guy and barks orders as he services her. This is perhaps the weakest sequence in the film and should have been dropped, had not Eaton been a co-auteur.

When (courtesy of voice-over) the anonymous Blue Kinsey splits for Rome, Jeffrey Hurst becomes Ultra Max's new slave, named J.J. Norris. Ultra whacks him with a riding crop during sex, and Angel masturbates watching them clandestinely.

Our young heroine soon gets hers, in the film's piece de resistance. On Ultra's orders, J.J. dishes out as much punishment as he can think of to Angel, perhaps titillating to mainstream fans back in the day, but clearly wimpy in S&M circles.

She is chained up hanging horizontally in the air (as if in levitating position) as Hurst forces her to deep throat him, runs a sharp knife up and down her body, ties a scarf tightly around her neck, whips her lightly, and hands out plenty of verbal abuse. Ultra cackles throughout, masturbating in delight, and director Davidson throws in many unrelated shots of nipple clamps being applied in closeup which don't match the scene at all -just extra kinkiness.

Nonsense escalates to Hurst trying to insert a prosthetic arm in Jean's vagina, but we don't see this, and in any event the whole gross-out routine is as phony as a 3-dollar bill. Angel manages to escape, just in time for a completely idiotic coda/happy ending -she meets Hurst out on the street after he's left Ultra's employ and they hook up, headed for Miami or Frisco and a new life together. I guess his abuse didn't leave any scars.

This junk is well-photographed and even boasts a high-profile composer (Ron Frangipane who scored Jodorowsky's classic THE HOLY MOUNTAIN). But like many intentionally silly efforts of the time (see the stupid LITTLE ORPHAN SAMMY as a prime example) it doesn't hold up at all. Melodrama and morbid, dead serious films, especially when it comes to a subject like S&M or bondage, have an intrinsic staying power, just as the films noirs of the late 1940s have long outlasted the frivolous comedies and musicals of that era.

As Steve Martin famously said "Comedy isn't pretty". And as any movie buff knows, it is far more difficult to pull off than drama. Eaton & Davidson had to learn this fact the hard way.

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