Over the hill film starlet Gaye Roman lounges around her rundown Hollywood home and ekes out a living coercing innocent young men into taking her carnal acting courses. Meanwhile, smarmy ...
See full summary »
Over the hill film starlet Gaye Roman lounges around her rundown Hollywood home and ekes out a living coercing innocent young men into taking her carnal acting courses. Meanwhile, smarmy con artist photographer Rodney Lecoq manipulates lovely and naive hippie girls into doing revealing poses for him. Written by
I like Walt Davis's body of porn films (especially SUBSTITUTION), which evidence a true comic talent wasted (perhaps) in a gutter medium. "DOLL" exemplifies the clash between trying to entertain an audience and simultaneously pander to that audience's avowed prurient interests.
A useful comparison would be with the East Coast's clown prince of porn, Shaun Costello. Whereas Shaun cranked out dozens of these improvised dirty comedies with a kind of careless nonchalance, one senses that Walt is more ambitious, trying to achieve some level of "quality". Who's to say which approach is correct?
The odd gimmick here, one which Costello never indulged in, is to recruit a familiar cast of hardcore performers and have them staged and photographed in strictly softcore content. There's no danger of explicit penetration or a money shot appearing on screen, but like several of Joe Sarno's self-touted exercises, it appears the actors are actually "getting it on" at times, even though we're not allowed to see it. Davis scrupulously avoids any closeups during the sex scenes, relying upon unedited (read: CHEAP), real-time theatrical stagings and aloof camera, but one keeps expecting a XXX payoff. Like most porn, this movie could easily have been spiced up by post-production (or even years later) addition of hardcore insert closeups, but the SWV DVD-R reissue plays integrally as 100% soft.
"DOLL" is a showcase for Cleo O'Hara, a porn actress who was only given a chance to shine in several of Davis's films. She plays over-the-hill Hollywood actress Gaye Ramon, now giving acting lessons out of her home (alleged by the SWV notes to be Davis's actual home). With her lipstick smeared unattractively throughout the film, she is clearly less a Gloria Swanson (SUNSET BLVD.) or Bette Davis (BABY JANE) than a Sylvia Miles, fresh from Morrissey's classic HEAT. I saw Miles on stage in "It's Me, Sylvia" during the '80s, and that one-woman play is also in exactly the same vein as "DOLL".
O'Hara's improvised dialog is extremely well done, and the film suffers (and falls to earth with a thud) whenever she isn't on screen camping it up and dominating the frame. Davis's conceit here is that she isn't merely another self-deluded diva bitter about aging and falling from starry heights of yesteryear, but frankly an admitted whore, constantly proud of her former status as "the best c**ksucker in Hollywood". The subtext that resonated with me was obvious but effective: both O'Hara and Davis are talents who clearly never got even a remote chance to strut their stuff in a "real" Hollywood movie. I would have loved to see them do a semi-straight biopic on Tallulah Bankhead, for example.
Another talented comedian is on display, Keith Erickson as director Rodney Lecoq. With a truly phony wig hiding his famously receding hairline, Erickson camps it up in Taylor Mead fashion, and proves a great foil for Cleo. At one point he reveals a huge erection on camera, the closest to hardcore for "DOLL".
The rest of the cast seems hamstrung by the softcore structure, causing one to infer that the film would have been better simply shot hardcore. Sandy Carey is virtually unrecognizable in a red wig, upstaged by pal Andy Bellamy's big, pointy breasts sticking out, while the team of lovely Jill Sweete and boy friend Billy Lane are extremely dull when left adrift to ad lib consistently boring, ho-hum conversation. In a real film their desultory scenes would be dropped, and Lane would probably have been replaced altogether, given that his scenes opposite Cleo are completely carried by her (he's a blank).
Ultimately, burdened with a boring non-ending of the "life goes on" variety, "DOLL" emerges as a coulda, shoulda been a contender. Alongside Davis's notorious horror/porn THE DEMON IN MISS JONES, it's still in search of its cult.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?