(1982)

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Dirty Secrets of the Oh Yeah Sisterhood
Dries Vermeulen31 August 2007
The late Chuck Vincent's ultimate cross-over hit swept the AFAA (Adult Film Association of America, founded by Dave Friedman) Awards the year it came out, while simultaneously alienating a lot of porn fans and critics alike, perhaps already planting the seeds for what were to become such organizations as the XRCO (X-Rated Critics Organization) and FOXE (Fans of X-Rated Entertainment). The reason for this very controversy is blatantly obvious. While ROOMMATES delivers in spades in all aspects of good film-making (i.e. script, acting, production values), it virtually overlooks the one aspect that separates adult from mainstream movies. While there's plenty of sex involved, very little of it is actually erotic or indeed intended as such. "Cult Movies" auteur Danny Peary actually hit the nail on the head when he labeled the film borderline misogynist as its three female lead characters are put through the wringer just to show how strong and plucky they happen to be. That said, Vincent and his regular writer Rick Marx did manage to create a trio of gutsy (if not quite yet independent) women who were unapologetic about their penile pursuits that was totally different from the porn norm and this long before SEX AND THE CITY made such "female misbehavior" acceptable to mainstream audiences. Presumably the first adult film to play mainstream venues since Bill Osco's porn musical ALICE IN WONDERLAND in 1976 with varying degrees of explicitness, it was embraced by a spectator-ship well beyond the dyed in the wool dirty movie devotees.

In order to beat the high cost of living in New York, three very different but equally career-oriented women decide to move in together. Billie (Samantha Fox in a career-best performance) is an up 'n' coming advertising executive with a past in high-priced prostitution that's coming back to haunt her with a vengeance. Struggling actress Joan (Veronica Hart) wants to make it big on Broadway but carries on an affair with a married man (tall, hulking Frank Adams, a beefy Brian Keith type who was also in Vincent's GAMES WOMEN PLAY and THIS LADY IS A TRAMP). Model Sherry (Kelly Nichols) has a coke habit that invariably gets her in trouble including gang rape and a persistent pervert, disturbingly portrayed by – who else but – Jamie Gillis. Of the three, Joan gets off the easiest, just having to cope with being strung along by her lying lover and her budding attraction to gay fellow actor Eddie, one of the first parts that allowed the excellent Jerry Butler to flex his acting muscles. As Billie is blackmailed by her former pimp Marv (a rare nasty turn from that terrific comedian Bobby Astyr) to resume her previous capacity as a hooker lest he blow her cover, she winds up at the bachelor party of her lover Jim (Jack Wrangler, JACK 'N' JILL together again), adding insult to injury as she had no idea that he was about to marry someone else ! And so it goes. Just about every single sexual encounter has one character (usually male) forcing or willfully deluding the other (usually female), leaving an unpleasant aftertaste. Exceptions are Sherry's popper-fueled one night stand with Ron Hudd, shot and edited in stuttering MTV style (then not yet the overworked device it has become since), and Joan's tender initiation of the sexually confused Eddie. Veronica Hart has gone on record to claim that her scene with Jerry Butler here was the only time on-screen sex ever felt like actual lovemaking to her.

Like Chuck's own follow-up IN LOVE and a few other titles like Stephen Sayadian's CAFE FLESH or Larry Revene's RAW TALENT, ROOMMATES falls into that severely limited category of adult movies that keep resurfacing on people's "best of" lists even though they're not all that hot. Each of them is very well made however with acting that puts the industry standard to shame. Hey, credit where it's due. Fox, Hart and Nichols were all Vincent discoveries to some extent – in BAD PENNY, GAMES WOMEN PLAY and BON APPETIT respectively – so it's particularly pleasing to find the three of them together in the one such case where they received equal billing and screen time. The director's right hand man behind the camera, the aforementioned Revene, performs his customary sterling duties plus there's a hauntingly wistful theme song ("Not Another Love Affair") by the same guys who wrote the slushy theme for IN LOVE. Had Vincent turned up the heat a notch, ROOMMATES would really be the adult classic "everyone" keeps saying it is.
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10/10
One of the best porn movies ever made
gpan27 June 2000
This movie has a well-told story about real characters who grow and change, portrayed with (mostly) credible performances. Veronica Hart is a good actress by mainstream, let alone porn standards. Music is even appropriate to the action most of the time. It lacks many of the traditional porn cliches such as sex scenes that have no connection to the story, and external come shots. In short a well-made movie with explicit sex. It isn't Schindler's List but it's better than a lot of mainstream movies that had 100 times its budget.
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8/10
Well written X-rater
fertilecelluloid1 January 2005
This Chuck Vincent-directed drama (with X-rated sex scenes) is one of very few adult features that crossed the street into the mainstream -- at least for a week or two. After playing X-rated venues, it was re-cut and released in mainstream theatres across the country with an "R" rating.

It's easy to see why. It's an engaging girls-about-town drama that boasts convincing performances and a believable series of conflicts which are truthfully resolved by an exciting conclusion.

Samantha Fox, Veronica hart and Kelly Nichols are the three female leads; all had appeared in countless X-rated features prior to this. Hart, now directing quality porn under the name Jane Hamilton, impresses greatly as a budding actress in a loveless relationship; she's natural and very attractive.

Vincent regular Larry Revene photographed the pic while Vincent and regular scripter Rick Marx shared the screenplay.
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Overpraised and pretentious
Jim Donald Ellis15 April 2009
The overpraise this glorified porno has received is staggering. Veronica Hart may had been good in other roles; here she is trying too hard. Samantha Fox is downright terrible and over-acting(if we can use that word 'acting) and obnoxious to watch. Her only believable dialogue occurs when performing her sex-scenes, in all seriousness. Kelly Nicols,ironically, gives the only pure performance with her natural delivery. Jamie Gillis is fine,as usual. Chuck Vincent evidently got his directing-knack down with future efforts,but this is a fancy wrapped package with nothing inside, except a self-fulfillment wish for Vincent.
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8/10
Precursor to Raw Talent
Darrin7 November 2008
Chuck Vincent is perhaps the first "mainstream" filmmaker to crossover into adult films. When one is able to watch "Roommates" (1981), without having to utilize the ffwd search button, that is the mark of any good adult film. It has above-average acting and storyline, shot entirely on-location in NYC (most romanticized city in TV/film), and fairly arousing sex scenes. This film is on par with any mainstream B-movie. Sidenote: cult fans of "Raw Talent" (1984) will get a kick out of seeing Jerry Butler in what appears to be a precursor to his "Eddie" character. This role seems to have been the basis for his casting in "Raw Talent," right on down to using the same name, "Eddie." Butler once again gives a wacky and unpredictable performance as a struggling actor looking to make the big time.
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