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Alice Friedland ...
Sharon Mills (as Claudine Benet)


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Some people will do anything for money...even if it kills them.


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April 1976 (USA)  »

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Late-in-the-game softcore porn that should have been XXX
10 January 2011 | by (New York, New York) – See all my reviews

Lately I've been seeing many regular films with hardcore inserts -perfectly good films ranging from Ornella Muti's debut THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WIFE to Rene Daalder's MASSACRE AT CENTRAL HIGH, but spiced up in the late '70s for porn playoff. LOVE GAMES is the opposite: a 1976 movie that should by all rights have been filmed as a hardcore movie but instead is a silly softcore tease.

Director Ed De Priest is a familiar name, listed on the crew of innumerable soft & hard porn pics back in the day. Why he and distributor Manuel S. Conde pegged this project as soft X is a mystery. It lacks the production values and "real movie" feel of a drive-in or action house picture, and plays more like a typical "weekend wonder", but where are the insertions & money shots? I can see an exhibitor or booker scratching his head with a silent "WTF?" reaction when it was screened back in 1976. More about that key issue later.

The story is old-hat in the extreme: a trio of con artists, two nondescript guys and femme fatale Claudine Benet (actually Alice Fredlund) prey on dumb guys. The scam is to have stewardess Benet seduce the mark, and then during sex her "husband" and the other confederate barge in, Benet pretends to shoot her husband, and the mark pays up in hefty blackmail money.

They do this to hapless Ed (an uncredited old coot who doesn't mind showing his Johnson on-screen in a soft porn movie), who later hires private eye Rick Taylor to track down the creepy criminals who bilked him out of $25,000.

Taylor is played (I should say overplayed) by Marc Brock, a familiar face from soft porn who I've seen in numerous 1-day wonders, notably COUSIN BETTY and THE GOOD FAIRY. Here he's Mr. Motormouth -constantly making in-joke movie references (a poor man's Michael Weatherly from TV series "NCIS"), and seemingly auditioning who-woulda-thunk-it acting skills for a hoped-for mainstream movie assignment (never happened).

As Taylor's new secretary we have the wonderful Sharon Kelly/Colleen Brennan, oddly outfitted with a Gabrielle Drake wig circa "UFO" or AU PAIR GIRLS. Brennan shows those money-making breasts and has a couple of minor sex scenes, but her comic abilities are foolishly misused here -compare with her brilliant work in ALICE GOODBODY.

The episodic script, which makes the film seem as long as EXODUS, has another scam hooker/stewardess with a British accent named Samantha doing the same routine on another mark. She gets down and dirty and threatens to move the film into its desired XXX slot, as she puts the John in bondage, straps on a dildo and forces him to suck it; later she puts Fredlund through the routine.

Taylor succeeds in outfoxing the villains, but there is a series of unconvincing plot twists that pad the film out interminably. I will avoid giving any spoilers, since these twists are about all there is to keep you awake, but a late in the film lengthy flashback is very poorly done, begs to be hardcore (and recast, so we don't have to look at flabby old Ed's body whomping away), and even breaks flashback rules, as the woman telling it is not privy to all the content presented to us.

Several false endings include the pointless insertion of Buck Flower as a police detective.

Not very pretty Fredlund, who sports an overall tan and huge breasts as her drawing cards, managed to make the big time just once, featured in John Cassavetes' classic THE KILLING OF A Chinese BOOKIE. Her uninhibited costar as "Samantha" remains anonymous.

This one's strictly for fans of very bad jokes, idiotic patter, and very fake simulated sex. The distributor Manuel S. Conde is sort of the Chaplin of porn: just as Chaplin insisted on making silent films many years after everybody else in the world had switched over to sound, Conde ended his career distributing lame-duck softcore X movies (notably THE ALL-American WOMAN and DEEP JAWS) long after XXX had replaced them. That probably is the reason why so obvious a hardcore opus as this one was shot softcore instead.

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