Monday, February 23, 2009

Pacific Banana (1981)

Directed by John Lamond
Starring Graeme Blundell, Robin Stewart, Luan Peters, Deborah Gray
Rated R

"Are you two-timing me?"
"Yes, of course I am."

Although they've had very little play in the States over the years, Australia has produced its fair share of Boob Cinema. Most notable was 1973's Alvin Purple, starring muppet-faced Graeme Blundell. A classic male sex fantasy, Purple follows the antics and buffoonery of the titular character, a bungling numbskull blessed with neither looks or personality and yet, he's irresistible to women everywhere. This sort of wish-fulfillment premise occasionally showed up in US films as well, but usually the protagonist had to drink a magic potion or sell his soul to the devil. Not in Australia, mate. Down there, ugly dudes don't need no magical powers to pull the birds. They just fockin' pull 'em.

Alvin Purple spawned a sequel and a television series and laid the groundwork for many a tits-out Aussie romp. Fast forward a decade, and folks still couldn't get enough of Blundell's aw-shucks accidental cocksman, and so, Pacific Banana, an Alvin Purple in reverse sorta riff that borrows heavily from that classic Brit-com conceit: the guy whose dick doesn't work.

Martin (Blundell) is a pilot for Blandings Airlines. That's the good news. The bad news is, he suffers from a very particular form of erectile dysfunction. Every time he starts to get amorous with a woman, he sneezes and blows his load. It's a pretty revolting development. When the boss's wife, Lady Blandings (Audine Leith) attempts to seduce him during a private flight, she's thwarted by his wet noodle, so she has him fired. Since similar circumstances have hobbled many a Blandings pilot, Sir Harry Blandings (Alan Hopsgood) shows Martin a little kindness and gets him a co-pilot gig at Banana Airlines, the absolute bottom-scrapers at the Melbourne airport.

Paul (Robin Stewart, Get Crazy), the captain of Banana Airlines' flagship plane, the Pacific Banana, has the exact opposite problem as Martin: he can't stop banging women. When we meet him, he's in bed with a purring Swedish chick while he talks his way out of it on the phone with his fiancés, sexy stews Mandy (Alyson Best) and Sally (Deborah Gray, who also wrote the amazing theme song).

He's somehow engaged to both of the Banana's stewardesses. Is that illegal in Australia? Could be, they're pretty manly down there.

After getting molested by a big-breasted woman who gives him a ride to the airport, Martin meets Paul and his horny gang and sees what he'll be flying for now on. The Pacific Banana is a battered, bright yellow propeller plane that flies from Australia to various island paradises, including Tahiti. "The Spirit of '35" is painted on the nose, which is not very comforting in 1980. As Martin straps in for his first flight, Paul asks him if he's scared. He shakes his head.
"Well, you ought to be," winks Paul. As the plane starts up, Martin looks out the window to see the mechanic on the tarmac praying.

Mandy and Sally wear yellow dresses with slits that go up to their waists. Before the plane takes off, they struggle to secure all the overhead baggage, offering the perfect view for the wrinkly old men and pervy priests on board to ogle them. Meanwhile, our narrator, Martin's fairy godfather, chuckles maniacally on the soundtrack. I'm not sure why we need a narrator, but the whole set-up is pretty awesomely creepy.

I should mention the subplot here. Sir Harry's teenage daughter Julia (Helen Hemingway, who was pushing 30 at the time) stows herself away on every Banana flight. She's attempting to run away from home. Although her disguises and hiding places are relatively clever (an old biddy, a coffin) she continually gets caught, and Martin hands her over to whatever counts as authority on the various islands they land in. The assumption is that this will all lead up to something later, because she serves no real purpose for 95% of the film's running time.

After Paul nips off to have sex with the stews, and after Martin is through tying up Julia and calming down a hysterical, matronly passenger by massaging her giant breasts (it's the only thing that will get her to stop screamining) the bedraggled crew finally gets to its first destination, Tahiti. While there, Paul tries to cure Martin's problem by taking him to an exotic brothel called the House of Joy, where the ladies offer their customers bizarre scenarios like 'The Missionary' (they have sex in a boiling pot), or "The Tarzan' (I think monkeys are involved). Martin is clearly not built for this sort of sex-play. He opts for the rather pedestrian sex-on-a-waterbed option, but sneezes before they can get to business.

Paul is then obliged to bang the island girl himself. Then he goes back to his bungalow and bangs his two fiancés/employees. Paul's fuck-everything routine gets pretty tiresome after awhile.

The following day, Paul sits in the Banana Airlines offices, plotting his next sexual conquest. In stomps Candy Bubbles (Hammer horror hottie Luan Peters) in a low-cut blue dress that accentuates her ample bosom.
"Oh, Christ," says Paul. You will, too.
"Yes, I know they're big," she acknowledges. "Now, take a good look, so we can get down to business."
Candy wants to use the Pacific Banana as the go-to charter plane for her hedonistic resort, Club Candy. Paul agrees - how could he not? - and soon enough, the Banana is packed to the rafters with young nubiles looking for an exotic week in the tropics.

What with all those women on board, you'd expect something sexy to happen. But just when you least expect it, a banana cream pie fight breaks out on the plane. This goes on at least twice as long as usual, so apparently Australians think food fights are uproarious.

After a lengthy cleanup, everyone ends up at Club Candy. Having overheard Martin's troubles on the plane (the two pilots never seem to notice the loudspeaker is on when they talk about sex), Candy offers to help him. She lets him loose in a pile of naked girl-flesh with a paintbrush and they all get squishy creating body-art.

At first it appears to be working, but then he sneezes, and the fun is over. Determined to crack this nut, Candy sends her girls in wave after wave to Martin's room to get a rise out of him. There's a fraulein in leather, a two-girl combo and even a brunette in the bathtub, but nothing works.

Candy realizes, with some amount of trepidation, that she's going to have to handle this one herself.
"For his sake, I will perform the ritual of the sleeping giant," she announces.
"Oh no," squeaks one of the girls. "If it gets out of control, every man on the island will be driven mad with lust!"
"Believe me, I know how risky it is," she says, somberly. "Pray for us both."

The ritual involves dudes playing conga drums blindfolded while Candy does a strip dance in front of Martin. By the way, Luan Peters' may have the most perfect set of double-Ds since Supervixen herself, Shari Eubank. And that's saying something. Those are some prime 70's tits, and it's no wonder that the whole island goes bananas when she starts shaking them around. The islanders all start fucking in the sand, trees topple over, and a volcano erupts. But does the dance work for Martin? And what does all of this have to do with our plucky teenage stowaway?

Hey man, that's for me to know and you to find out. Although it's all pretty obvious.

Pacific Banana is never quite as funny as you'd like it to be, even though it tries, desperately, to make you laugh, with every grown-worthy sex-com gag in the book. On the other hand, the women are frequently naked and uniformly gorgeous, in that understated, well-built Aussie sort of way, the scenery is incredible, and the atmosphere is so warm and sunny you practically need to slather on sunblock just to watch it. So I'm not complaining.

PS: Makes an obvious companion piece to the loopy Party Plane.

More Bananas?
25 or so years later, and most of the cast and crew are all still alive, kicking, and making movies. It takes a lot to kill Australians.

Clip: Pacific Banana trailer!

Availability: Pacific Banana is available on DVD.

-Ken McIntyre

1 comment:

  1. This was a Dusk-To-Dawn drive-in mainstay when I was growing up.

    I must have seen it ten times at various drive-ins around Australia.

    Blundell is still about.


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