Transitional porn, injecting hardcore into the softcore format
Cleverly titled, this vintage porn film plays as a typical 1-day (or half a day perhaps) wonder from the 1970 period, but features a single scene of explicit hardcore action. It has been reissued by Something Weird Video on Vol. 195 of its Dragon Art Theatre series.
Tipoff is the casting of Fifi Watson, in the history books in the title role of MONA, essentially the film that launched the wide dissemination of hardcore porn (and is still watchable 40 years later). I'm not blaming it for the ubiquitous, trillion-dollar industry that followed, but MONA represents more than a historical footnote.
LITTLE WOMEN GET AHEAD, on the other hand, has zero historical importance, and would not have been missed (or sought after) had SWV not received a well-preserved print from its Dragon Art purchase. It is mediocre in every respect, yet interesting in unintended ways.
Shot ultra-cheaply on just two sets, a living room and a bedroom, it consists of improvised filler lensed with a "no retakes" policy. The cast of familiar porn thesps (save for one, which I will discuss later) improvise half-heartedly around a meager skeleton of a premise, virtually mocking the "script" at times due to their disinterest. For example, the ubiquitous soft porn maven Gerard Broulard is introduced as Fifi's brother, and everyone mocks this status, as it will prevent the duo from getting it on, revealing instantly to the viewer how arbitrary was this relationship in the script. Similarly, the pretense of blonde star Kathy Hilton as a hooker-in-training is laboriously introduced and utterly pointless.
The actors take turns simulating sex acts, with the aloof camera making sure that no penetration is seen, and fellatio carefully simulated with the "hands in the way" mode of ancient softcore. However, Watson, whose b.j.'s as MONA launched a million ships, does give William Howard an explicit oral treatment here. How those few hardcore moments remained in the surviving print submitted to SWV, and were not whisked away to a private stash by some "Cinema Paradiso"-styled Dragon Art projectionist is beyond me.
-MINOR SPOILER AHEAD-
Beyond the inane banter by the bored cast, semblance of a plot ensues with the arrival of good old John Dullaghan as a "trick" whose impotence presents quite a challenge to the hookers. When a newly arrived Sandy Dempsey (with a large bandage covering up her butterfly tattoo this time around -oh the perils of adult performers with tattoos prior to the current era when everybody has some) is sent in the bedroom to try to get John off, we have the shock ending as he exclaims: "That's My Wife!". Who said vaudeville was dead?
The brain-dead scribe for SWV who touts each film on the back of the box, misidentified both Dullaghan and the character name for Lynn Harris, mixing her up with an unidentified black actress who is her teammate in trying to get John to ejaculate. Of historical interest, in early porn there were quite a few black actresses and actors employed off & on, but with the possible exception of Johnnie Keyes (breakthrough performance in BEYOND THE GREEN DOOR, yet not too many followups) they were (and remain) largely anonymous, never afforded the opportunity at that time to forge an actual career like their white peers in the Adult Industry. The Civil Rights Movement opened the door, but just a crack (no pun intended, despite the temptation). Russ Meyer once explained to me the racism involved (when I asked him about the lack of black thesps in his films prior to Lavelle Roby joining his stock company circa 1968), noting that films with integrated casts simply couldn't get bookings in the South, forcing filmmakers (of wide-distribution films, not the 1-day wonders) to avoid casting minorities.
The crummy sets also reminded me of a quote from one of the interviewees in the 2004 French documentary on Henri Langlois, world's leading film archivist. A guy claims that an "American university" (unnamed of course) has purchased a copy of "every" porn film ever made (!) for study purposes. He maintains that students watch the films to study the history of American interior decoration, as the most mundane bedroom sets, night stands, dressers, are preserved in these cheapies. As absurd as this apocryphal claim is, and I believe it to be 100% bogus on its face, there is a slight grain of truth, as the crappy furniture displayed in LITTLE WOMEN GET AHEAD is perhaps its only memorable imagery, not the desultory, going-through-the-motions for the umpteenth time sexual content. As far as Mr. Froggy who made this nutty claim, it reminded me of the old canard guys would offer when asked about Playboy Magazine back in the day: "I read it for the interviews".
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