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To Turn a Trick (1967)

Director:

(as Charles Andrew)

Writer:

(as Charles Andrew)
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Cast

Credited cast:
Inger Simonsen ...
Inga
Christopher Brennan ...
Lee
Janet Banzet ...
Angie
Yolanda Signorelli ...
Model
Joseph Marzano ...
Thug
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Nyla Lamar
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Storyline

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Taglines:

Inga was ready... any time... any place.

Genres:

Drama

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Release Date:

December 1967 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Les jeux dangereux  »

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Referenced in Schlock! The Secret History of American Movies (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

Unpleasant, botched soft porn
4 October 2010 | by (New York, New York) – See all my reviews

I was very disappointed with C. Davis Smith's TO TURN A TRICK, a porn film that tried to be different but is merely incompetent. His MOS-shot ALL MY MEN was impressive, but this subsequent stab at directing a talkie is embarrassing.

You'd never know it from the superlatives on the SWV box liner written by self-appointed "film historian" Casey. Throwing around such hype as "underrated gem", "unique art house aesthetic" and "unique, fascinating journey" reveal him to be a 100% shillmeister. If one consults these listings prior to making a purchase (I don't), simply interpret the opposite to all of Casey's comments and you will be closer to the truth.

The film was ground out by Smith for Sam Lake Enterprises, which dealt in porn by the meter, with zero interest in quality. It shows here, as the photography, sound recording and especially the acting & editing are atrocious. In the '70s and '80s exhibitors were always up in arms about the industry-evil of "blind bidding" (i.e., distributors would offer major films without permitting the exhibitor to see what he was bidding on), but a film like this one would be shown only at marginal cinemas with ultimately only the projectionist privy to its miscellaneous contents.

Sinking the enterprise from the outset is the poor casting, as both leads, one-shot "actors" Inger Simonsen and Christopher Brennan, have trouble reciting their direct-sound lines with any emotion whatsoever. For a melodrama, having such low-affect performers is a no-no. Brennan portrays a handicapped still photographer named Lee who is thoroughly dislikable, crutching around to capture life in the raw. Early on we see him failing to help a brutally beaten-up guy -he's only interested in snapping shots.

Scandi import Simonsen is in Manhattan looking for work as a model, but instead becomes Brennan's camera assistant. Thanks to weak scripting, execrable editing (most scenes are truncated by fades or lap-dissolves at just the wrong moment), their characters do not develop, especially Inger (as Inga) with a never-convincing arc to play. Several scenes in the middle of the film are shredded and incoherent -usually missing footage is at the beginning or ending of these salvaged films, but apparently the middle reels were ruined this time.

--MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD--

Several key scenes are abominably directed. Inger is raped after hours in the studio by a former employee of Lee's, who is evidently high, and has two models there to hold her down. The photography here (praised of course by Casey for being "shadowy") is poor so the scene has little impact, and it makes no sense -after several replays and hindsight from a later scene discussing the incident it finally appears that the rapist misunderstood in his stupor that Inga was asking for the $15 back stolen from her purse, when he thought she was offering him sex for a $50 charge. This apparently is the only (and I'm stretching to make a point) way the film's release title could possibly relate to the action/storyline -this is not a film about prostitution.

Inga's behavior never makes sense but when not stripping for 1967-acceptable levels of nudity, she wanders through the film on a Smith-enforced downward spiral, ultimately dying of an o.d. The callous creep who shoots her up with heroin, cryptically cuts her corpse's hair off (!) and then has a fat slob come to help him dispose of the body, in a ridiculous scene done in once again by the unintelligible sound recording. Film's beyond-cynical ending of Lee's blasé attitude when asked later about Inga: "I suppose she went back to Norway" backfires. It's not a hip, downbeat ending but rather another porn Freudian slip -Smith has a "who cares?" attitude towards the entire mess, and so will the (not on the payroll like Casey) arm's length viewer.

I recently watched Smith's FILE X FOR SEX, also ground out by him for Sam Lake in 1967, but shot MOS. In that film the ultra-busty Yolanda Signorelli makes a stimulating impression as a masseuse, but in TO TURN A TRICK she is made to look ugly by the poor cinematography in a nothing role as one of the girls who holds rape victim Inga down. Just an example of carelessness for this intended to be ephemeral '60s porn. Who woulda thunk that 30 to 50 years later creeps calling themselves experts would be praising it the skies with a presumably straight face?


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