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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Do you remember, as a kid, how you made fun of old codgers waxing
nostalgically about old movies, claiming "they don't make 'em like they
used to anymore" ? I did, anyway, and now I'm on the other side of the
fence, saying the same thing
about porn ! That's right ! Gone are the
days of (relatively) huge budgets allowing for lavish production values
and ample shooting schedules, when adult movies were "real movies"
rather than a series of sex scenes in search of a plot. Yep, I get
misty-eyed whenever I recall the splendors of the genre's "Golden Age".
Thankfully, because of the miracle that is DVD, all of us old farts
(and the young upstarts who think we're just full of it) get to revisit
many of the period's finer achievements whenever we want, without the
disadvantages of trying to fend off the amorous overtures of the
raincoat-clad geezer two seats down as was often the case at one's
local porno palace. First among equals must be this wonderful Harold
Lime production that came hot on the heels of his similarly superb
DESIRES WITHIN YOUNG GIRLS, the finest film the erratic Richard Kanter
(a/k/a "Ramsey Karson") ever made. Sexy and sophisticated, it stands
head and shoulders (first of the young'uns to crack a dandruff joke
will have to chow down on my fist !) above all other attempts at carnal
comedy. Little wonder when you realize that the people behind it had a
film-making experience that stretched all the way back to the
sexploitation heyday of the '60s. Lime had made the early nudie classic
NOT TONIGHT, HENRY as "Ted Paramore" while director Gary Graver
("Robert McCallum" on triple X features) churned out many of the finer
simulated sex dramas including the recently redeemed SANDRA : THE
MAKING OF A WOMAN.
Generally regarded as the best of the Lime/Graver collaborations (among them such comparable classics like AMANDA BY NIGHT, INDECENT EXPOSURE and SOCIETY AFFAIRS), this follows the exploits of struggling actor Jerry (Jamie Gillis) whose sideline as "escort to the stars" is proving far more profitable than his professional efforts. In fact, so successful is he at seducing members of the opposite sex that he catches the eye of devious investor J.C. Church (late character actor John Alderman a/k/a "Frank Hollowell", sole male star of Chris Warfield's excellent LITTLE MISS INNOCENCE) who hires him on the spot, not for an upcoming movie but to lure his sister and four nieces. Come again ? J.C.'s dying brother Edgar owns the really big chunk of the Church family fortune and he's such a bluenose that he would promptly disown his daughters if they were exposed for being as sexually liberated as they secretly are, as well as their aunt Madeleine (Georgina Spelvin) for covering up their exploits over the years. Jerry's job is to catch the women's indiscretions on film, so that J.C. will appear like a choirboy by comparison, assuring him of the full inheritance. With film-making pals George (John Leslie) and Archie (Paul Thomas) in tow, Jerry schemes to trap all five women. Twins Nancy and Diane (both played by Serena) provide a classic contrast of naughty and nice, illustrated by "their" very different scenes with Gillis (her real life boyfriend at the time) in a dank dungeon and caught in the rain on a romantic picnic. Sports fanatic Constance (lovely Laurien Dominique, who sadly passed away from cancer in 1986) rewards Leslie for his perseverance with a roll in the hammock and self-centered Barbara (Lesllie Bovee) has the intricate "hall of mirrors" encounter with P.T. Spelvin proves yet again that you can't beat an older woman for erotic appeal and expertise by shedding her inhibitions among the African art in my personal favorite among the film's perfectly realized sexual set-pieces. Lime could never resist tagging a little life lesson onto each of his carnal creations, so Jerry has a last-minute change of heart via the redemptive powers of true love and J.C. gets a proper comeuppance. It's a tribute to the skill of the filmmakers that this message doesn't feel the least bit cloying.
More youthful dirty movie devotees may roll their eyes skyward, but as far as I'm concerned ECSTASY GIRLS stands out as perfect porn. Every aspect of production smacks of pure professionalism. Lest you feel the urge to interrupt, yes, I hereby include the irresistibly dated Ronny Romanovitch soundtrack (sort of an unholy mix between disco and Vegas style lounge-core) replete with schmaltzy theme song. The plot moves along at a brisk pace with cute dialog and strong characterizations by a superstar cast that delivers on both thespian and fornication front. Rarely called upon to carry a film, Serena comes through with flying colors subtly differentiating between both parts and somehow manages to work in her (slightly toned down) S&M specialty bit as part of the proceedings. Bovee once more proves her mettle as a vastly underrated comedienne (check out her dazzling performances in Chuck Vincent's MISBEHAVIN' and Chris Warfield's CHAMPAGNE FOR BREAKFAST) and no one past or present could ever hope to better the delightful Desiree Cousteau in the airhead sweepstakes. The latter's athletic bedroom workout with Gillis remains both a funny and horny highlight. Just in case identification poses a bit of a problem, the girls in the movie's most memorable opening threesome are cute Stacy Evans (also in Lime's previous DESIRES) and Nancy Suiter, a flawless blonde who has garnered a bit of a cult reputation (Reason ? Just look at her !) and starred in Jaacov Jaacovi's popular TAXI GIRLS. I dare any one of you to come up with an adult movie of recent vintage that generates the joy, nay, the undiluted exhilaration of this untouchable classic.
For a adult pic, you could fare much worse, where here, you haven't got a bad film, of course no masterpiece. You do have some helpings of sex, not overmuch, and some other visual goodies in between, to smooth it out. Gillis too, doesn't give a bad performance in this, in what is a "better than you" expect story. I hadn't seen this film for fourteen years, as sitting in a cardboard box of mine. There's funny stuff, too, including one hottie trying to make it, where not f..king and not s..king is part of her everyday vocabulary. Gilles plays an out of work actor, while working as an escort for his agent, driving stars to their shoots, what have you. Showing up at a party after, uninvited... a little drunk, where his agent is, a film producer, whatever, sees a great opportunity for himself, with Gilles being such a sex magnet, after all. He's thrown a proposition where him and his two friends, need I say who, lure five step daughters from the producer's family into some sexcapades, where if seen as immoral, by use of videotaped evidence, they are therefore cut of the will, as pops is his deathbed. It's no easy task too, when one of the girls is heavily into sports, giving John Leslie, oops sorry, I mentioned his name, a run for his cut. The story takes a nice turn in the end, when Gillis falls in love. You could do worse than The Ecstasy Girls, as really what unfolds isn't a bad adult pic, better than a lot of other adult junk, and pornos, and I mean as to quality and story.
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