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Glauco Del Mar
Guillermo De Córdova,
I prefer the alternate title for this loser, THE CANDIDATE, to its wordy generic release title. You don't get Robert Redford in a classic and timely drama, but instead it's strictly porn, poorly executed and not the "real movie" its makers hoped it to be.
This completes my self-imposed homework assignment to sit through the collected works of producer/distributor Charles Abrams, batting .000 in my book. His LOVE AFTER DEATH is one of the clumsiest and dumbest of the patchwork jobs of the '60s (worse than Jerry Warren), and this movie, CARGO OF LOVE and COMMUTER GAME are all examples of upwardly mobile porn failing miserably to achieve some level of respectability. Reminds me of the hoary description of a tight wad: "short arms & deep pockets", though Abrams doesn't overspend on these pretentious cheapies.
Lead actors give flat, uninteresting performances for starters: Harold Retlow/Herbsman as Bruce Harrington, a candidate for U.S. Senator and Kate Wilson/Janis Young as his beautiful (not really, but she has a nice rack) wife Helen. At one point he is about to become, I quote "Senator of the United States", the specific state left out in some fit of tastefulness.
Turns out wifey has a checkered past, revealed to us in two endless, momentum killing flashbacks. She was raped by a couple of guys after being drugged at a party, and later ended up in the loony bin. The creep who brought her to that party shows up at the Harrington mansion just four days before the election, blackmailing Helen to the tune of a fast $10,000 to keep his trap shut and not show around some convenient Polaroids showing her in compromising positions.
Just having watched wonderful character comedian Richard B. Schull embarrass himself in Abrams' earlier production CARGO OF LOVE, I was ready for the spectacle of even more revered character comedian Allen Garfield (here sloppily billed as "Alan Garfield") in a sex role early in his career. He debuted in untalented director Robert Canton's ORGY GIRLS '69, apparently a lost film, but no such luck here, as we get to see Garfield strip down and hump (softcore style) two porn superstars: Jennifer Welles and Uta Erickson!
Not only going through sex-simulation motions, but Garfield throws in some preposterous "Method Acting" mannerisms, taking his stupid role way too seriously.
Welles, at the outset of her legendary career, is stuck with the black hair but her hourglass figure is truly impressive and undoubtedly the only reason for anyone to sit through this junk. Her role, alas, is idiotic: as maid in the Harrington (oops, I almost typed Huffington!) household she keeps complaining to the would-be senator that Garfield, an old b.f. now the family's chauffeur, keeps raping her against her will, but our creepy hero Bruce basically tells her to "get over it".
While wifey has baggage, he's still at it, as Bruce requires a daily portion of whipping with cat o' nine tails from Welles plus the verbal abuse that goes with it. This closet masochist is either prime material for the U.S. Senate or ineligible -it all depends on the viewer's p-o-v and level of cynicism re: politics & politicians.
Various plot twists are poorly executed and the film basically boils down to merely a 1969/1970 showcase in beautiful black & white of female flesh, with plenty of bush shots (not Welles, however).
Writer-director Canton is clearly a hack -he doesn't sequence or edit his scenes in an interesting manner, and even fails to hide all the obvious corner cutting. Most scenes are introduced with lame transition shots showing the mansion exterior or grounds; interminable flashbacks are a no-no; two scenes on successive days of Garfield in a bar drowning his sorrows before reluctantly hiring $20 prostie Uta are obviously filmed together but "pretend" to be separate, etc., etc.
Worst element, which kept this out of the "real movie" category for me entirely, was the complete absence of the crucial "big campaign party and speech" sequence that the story is building up to for over an hour: cast jumps into the Cadillac with Garfield at the wheel to go there and next thing you know they're returning home "triumphant".
Without giving away spoilers, finale when the police descend upon the mansion after a hokey almost-DIAL M FOR MURDER plot riff goes awry, is meant to be an exciting open ending, but comes off flat as a pancake. Maybe because the corpse in question wasn't even hidden at all, but lying in plain sight for Garfield to trip over?
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