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Rhonda Leigh Hopkins
The 1970's marked a change in sexual liberation. What was, and still is called a sexual revolution. This was marked by the rise of hard-core pornography within mainstream culture. A situation (fad if you like) that was short in popularity. It's most famous, and popular 'poster' for this was the 'high concept' premise of 1972's Deep Throat. This film (that was released in seemingly austere cinemas) had the story of a woman who's clitoris was found at the back of her throat. This was a concept brought forward into popular culture simply by the film's star, Linda Lovelace's, ability to take the shaft of a penis deep into her throat. This is now of course a staple of the porn film (now into extremes of gagging from this concept – ad nauseum). This film bred a stream of hard porn films that felt the need for some kind of story. This was later diminished by video, which subsequently killed 'cinematic' pornography. (Probably a good thing really. There is only so much narrative you can create around a f**k movie.)
So, within this concept of a new liberalism within the parameters of sexuality within cinema, there was clearly room for this high concept sexual obscurity within the non-pornographic comedy film. This is where our film, Chatterbox enters. Made in 1977 towards the end of this 'deviant' progression through sexual mores; it's not hard-core porn. It's not even soft-core porn. It is simply a concept film, placed within the ideas of the hard/soft porn fashion of the time. It is a late comer really with this idea, as the porn industry would soon be broken down, and marginalised to be entirely filmed on video. OK, so there really is no reason for hard core porn to have story, as we all realise in the world we live in today with its compilations of cum shots et al. But, I digress.
Chatterbox really has no connection to the porn industry as it was then, and certainly not as it is now. I simply open with this idea due to the fact that it does possess the qualities that Deep Throat set out to show. That is, a concept around sexuality that not only visualises something new, but also participates in a knowing joke. Deep Throats concept was/is essentially a form of comedy (something you are highly unlikely to see in pornography outside of the 1970's). Not necessarily a bad thing. They should be separated. Well, anyway, the film I'm supposed to be talking about is so far removed from porn. It is simply a comedy with t**s and ass!! So I digress yet again. Well, I don't, because I haven't even started on the film.
Chatterbox tells the story of Penelope Pittman (Candice Rialson), who has an issue with her vagina. The problem is, it is able to talk, with a completely separate mind and outlook of itself. In the opening scene, we see Penelope in sexual congress with her boyfriend Ted (Perry Bullington). Her wise-cracking (no pun intended) vagina begins a torrent of abuse that forces Ted to leave believing that Penelope is responsible for such hurtful diatribes. This would mark the end of the relationship, something Penelope is concerned about. Her concern is realised when she goes to see Dr Pearl, who confirms (and is shown clearly) that her vagina can talk. This sparks dollar signs in the eyes of the psychologist, who pursues a career for the seemingly shy Penelope (or specifically her talking/singing vagina – later to be named Virginia).
Well, the story is obvious. The film itself is low-low budget. It shows. But I think it adds to its charm. Yes, it does have charm. The acting is atrocious. We even see the boom-mic in several shots (a 'mistake' that is often used these days to parody – or even pay homage – to bad filmmaking in the past; just look at the brilliant Garth Merenghi's Dark Place as just one example).
Virginia becomes an over-night singing sensation in the film. Much to the chagrin of Penelope, who is clearly looking for Mr. Right in the world, whilst Virginia is only really after a good hard f**k. It may well be a juxtaposition of the female revolution that prevailed in the '70's. In that women had to mix the reality of promiscuity with the more promising aspect of longevity. The film is a certain piece of fun, that can be read in many ways.
I believe this is a thoroughly awful film. But it really has a charm to it that would make me recommend it to someone I know may appreciate its flaws. Whilst it is a very silly 'comedy', it also encapsulates a time of innocence. Yes sexuality was out-to-bear, but there was a complete innocence surrounding that. We are currently in a state of sexual ambiguity, simply because variety has been so degraded (and I do believe that film has played a part in this), and we find society focusing on tiny elements of sexuality (case in point – this is one example – the obsession with feet). I believe this has become a facet of sexuality due to photography and cinemas ability to frame aspects of the body, focusing on 'parts' of the body, and not representing the whole.
I'm really not sure if I've represented this film at all! But in a strange way I really enjoyed its innocent charm. An innocence that we should all enjoy in hindsight of the sexual downer that subsequently happened a decade later with the onset of aids! Yes, that's how you end a fluffy review!!
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