Along with the untouchable Radley Metzger a/k/a "Henry Paris", the late Chuck Vincent may be the only pornographer whose carnal comedies can be accurately described as witty. While fellow fornication filmmakers frequently dealt in knockabout slapstick and gross-out toilet humor to score laughter, Vincent responded with rib-tickling sophistication apparently influenced by '50s Doris Day/Rock Hudson tandems, which he as a gay man would have predictably cherished. Even though the "real world" chooses to emphasize crossover adult dramas ROOMMATES and IN LOVE as his most important cinematic contributions, presumably because they came closest to mainstream in both style and content, comedy has always been Vincent's stock in trade. For my money, MISBEHAVIN' rates second only to the original JACK 'N' JILL in a line-up of Chuck's finest farces. So funny is it, in fact, that hardcore content tends to be somewhat eclipsed, lending credence to the common criticism that his movies are a tad soft on sex for the seasoned sleaze hound.
Only last week, this three decade old movie turned up at the Brussels ABC Theater, Belgium's last remaining 35mm screening adult cinema, on a double bill with Hans Billian's equally excellent JOSEFINE MUTZENBACHER (1. TEIL) a/k/a SENSATIONAL JANINE. Unfortunately, that's the full extent of the good news as it was shown in an un-subtitled German dub, rendered impenetrably muffled through the auditorium's crap sound system, which proved fatal for a film this heavy on its inspired dialog. Familiar with the material from past viewings, I could sympathize with an audience clasping fresh eyes on it, impatiently sighing for the sex to start as Chuck's meticulously crafted comedy routines were rendered unintelligible due to this sad state of affairs.
The premise is straight out of classic Hollywood comedies such as HEAVEN CAN WAIT or HERE COMES MR. JORDAN with the devil (Dick Gallan, who briefly appeared in Armand Weston's sublime TAKE OFF) and an angel (Vincent's regular character actor Kurt Mann) making a wager whether oft-divorced Rita Lawrence, portrayed by the wonderful Leslie Bovee in one of the finest performances of her very distinguished dirty movie career, will marry her next husband and we're running well into double digits here for either love or money. With a professional gold digger like Rita, who has extracted her most recent settlement through torture (albeit played for laughs), the answer would seem obvious, but clever scripting by the director's significant other Bill Slobodian, who sadly passed away from AIDS-related causes three years prior to his longtime lover, keeps the audience guessing as to the eventual outcome. As a matter of fact, the twist in the tail reminded me of a remark made by fellow hardcore historian John Lyons who writes those illuminating "classix comments" on www.adultdvdtalk.com and is also a reliably regular poster on the AV Maniacs Forum. He pointed out to me that none of Vincent's films have a completely happy ending. Though he said this in reference to VISIONS and IN LOVE, it holds equally true here. See it and you'll understand
Still, this is very much a comedy and Rita's hunt for her next spouse, aided and abetted by loyal gal pal Gloria (industry doyenne Gloria Leonard hitting all the right, wry, Eve Arden-esquire notes), makes for the bulk of the fast-paced narrative. The garden party opening showcases the movie's sole glaring defect as patently god-awful rock band Harlequin, who has since retreated into well-deserved obscurity, blares its talent-barren way through an atrocious track entitled "Stray Pussy". 'Nuff said. Lots of funny business keeps viewer attention occupied as Rita's disgruntled ex-mother in law (magnificent Mollie Malone, another Vincent regular) attempts to kill her, hot-blooded Hispanic ex Carlos (adorable stud muffin Marc Valentine, the rectal Romeo from DEEP INSIDE ANNIE SPRINKLE) threatens suicide, with bimbo maid Lilly (the late Arcadia Lake in a part indicative of sadly untapped comedic talents) obliviously bungling both their efforts. Meanwhile, Gloria drags her cowboy escort Clyde (future action star Sonny Landham, who saw his campaign for Governor to the State of Kentucky thwarted by his porno past) into the bathroom for some impromptu intimacy. The latter attracts Rita's attention as well and one of the film's funniest not to mention well-sustained sequences has her juggling Clyde, recent paramour Steve (Eric Edwards) and geriatric millionaire Mr. Cornwall (Eric Stanhope, who played "Fuller Shyte" on Carter Stevens' ROLLERBABIES) in various parts of the house to avoid they would meet.
As in his screenplay for the subsequent, inferior BON APPETIT, Slobodian throws in a gratuitous pool party cum orgy to up the sex ante, with guest appearances by nubile Georgette Sanders, sultry Erica Havens (the blushing bride from Carter Stevens' HONEYMOON HAVEN), built as a brick outhouse Rikki O'Neal and Ellyn "Burgundy" Grant who had small bits in Damiano's PEOPLE and ODYSSEY. While this group gets nasty, Rita wanders around looking for the apparently penniless Edwards who may or may not be her shot at true love. Not that this infatuation keeps her from getting her hands dirty, as she gives a ride to her black stable hand (one shot Ajito) and sneaks off for a hot quickie with restaurateur Jack Wrangler, who tragically died a few months ago, during a dull dinner with Cornwall.
It almost goes without saying that this is also an extremely well produced film. DoP Pierre Schwartz, a master of atmosphere as evidenced by his work on Duddy Kane's moody WET RAINBOW and the snowy scapes of Joel Scott's underrated A COMING OF ANGELS, passed the torch to an eager young upstart (as far as feature films are concerned for he had been shooting loops for legendary Bob Wolfe since decade's dawn) called Larry Revene, who worked as camera operator on this particular project. A fast friendship was forged and Revene would remain a loyal contributor to Vincent's career until the latter's untimely death as well as a fine fornication filmmaker in his own right.
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