Yet another quality film lost in the shuffle, PAMELA is a sex melodrama released in 1968 as just another porn movie (from low-low end Gotham sex distributor Distribpix), but its DVD-R reissue reveals a quality product. Chalk it up as another winner from William Rose, best known for his drive-in success THE GIRL IN ROOM 2A.
For starters, Rose cast Elaine Edwards in the title MILF role -a rare opportunity for her to play the lead after a long career as character actress from TV. Opening reels, shot in high-contrast black & white, have pro acting, editing and sets -giving the patina of a "real" film.
But with Edwards going topless (we nearly get full frontal nudity, but no) and a comical sex scene of Calvin (played by Paul Hardy, evidently a fake name) seducing her on the breakfast table, it is clear we're in adult territory. Story revolves around adultery, with Pamela having a problem explaining her indiscretion to stepdaughter Susan (Mary Lindsay). Matters escalate when Calvin goes after Susan, too.
As the husband & father Felix, Sherman Lloyd overacts portraying his stern/stiff persona, dragging down the movie quite a bit. In fact, his sex scene with his secretary is straight out of the porn play book.
Calvin's bohemian pad, replete with the iconic Brando THE WILD ONE poster on the wall, is a treat, where he introduces innocent Susan to the world of s&m. Moving into Doris Wishman territory, it is entertaining if tongue in cheek to watch Susan collecting "experiences" and spiraling into sin.
Rose lets lose in an orgy scene which features minor kinkiness (e.g., Nazi regalia), an integrated cast and even sex in a coffin (a frequently occurring though cryptic element of many a '60s porn movie). There are pretensions of underground movie status here, with folk songs and knowing references to the East Village Other and other hip NYC stuff.
When Elaine starts tripping on LSD at the party, the film takes a turn towards experimentalism. She hallucinates, imagining the party goers as nuns and priests. At this point the film shifts into Silent Era color tints and even full color (typical of an LSD movie). There's evidence of a decent budget and some effective imagery, such as a horrific shot of Pamela nude on a beach clutched by many hands from below. The special effects are poor, unfortunately, ruining such interesting (from a story board point-of-view) shots as a mouse imagined crawling into Pam's mouth or a fantasy flashback of her as a child being tied up and beaten by little boys.
I found the final reel, post-LSD trip, to be a letdown, with poor resolution of characters' conflicts, especially a comical fight between Calvin and Felix. It's as if the filmmakers lost their nerve and subverted the melodrama with tongue-in-cheek attitudes. Title song is sung-over at the end, and it's pretty awful. Well, the film's title is awful, too -what were they thinking? When you go to an adult theater you want a catchy title, like The Czech is In the Male (for gays) or Bang the Nun Slowly or Genital Hospital.
Still in all, this is a fine showcase for Elaine Edwards and way more interesting than the typical porn of its day. It's definitely worth viewing by anyone satiated on the big-name auteurs of this era, Sarno, Findlays, Wishman, etc.
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