Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Stewardesses (1969)

AKA International Stewardesses
Supersonic Supergirls
Directed by Al Siliman Jr
Starring Christina Hart, Paula Erikson, Angelique de Moline, Kathy Ferrick
Rated X
Buy poster

Shot in nine days (on weekends, over the course of a year and half, but still) for a budget of $40,000, The Stewardesses went on to gross over $6 million dollars in it's initial theatrical run, a monumental feat for any film in the late 1960's, never mind a grubby, X-rated 3D softcore flick. Once the buzz had set in for this one, people lined around blocks, snarling traffic for miles, just to see it. This would give you the impression that it was worth seeing. That's the bitch about buying a movie ticket, though. They won't give you your money back, just because the film is terrible. I am quite sure that the exit was just as busy as the entrance when The Stewardesses came to town in 1970.

The title alone suggests a bawdy, youthful romp, with tits and laughs, and perhaps a hammy gay dude in a neckerchief or a fat kid on a too-small bicycle. It makes you think of films like The Cheerleaders (1970) or The Student Teachers (1973) or Night Call Nurses (1972), or even Naughty Stewardesses (1974), films with colorful characters and actual storylines. Alas, The Stewardesses offer us none of that. Instead, we are handed a loose, rambling collection of gimmicky scenes that mean nothing and go nowhere. Were it not for the odd pool cue stabbing you directly in the eyeball, the film would be virtually unwatchable.

As stated, there is no story, just a series of mostly unrelated events. If there is a main character, it is Samantha (Christina Hart, The Roomates), a young, impressionable stewardess who desperately wants to become an actress. She meets a swaggering ad exec who promises to put her in pictures but, shockingly, does not deliver. She responds by smashing his skull in with a statue, then jumping out the window and splattering on the pavement. That might seem spoiler-y, but the odds are, you wouldn't have gotten to the end of the movie on your own anyway. I should also point out that this is supposed to be a comedy, yet it ends in a surprise suicide. Not a funny surprise suicide, either.

Hart's bits were added in later, to pad the running time and give the film some dramatic weight. Most of the movie is even less engaging. There is one note-worthy scene where one of the stews takes a hit of acid and has sex with a lamp. If they didn't drag it out for ten minutes, it might have been a classic bit of sexploitation weirdness.

There's also an incredibly awkward improvisational lesbian seduction scene that goes on forever and just gets more and more absurd as it rolls on. "Pretend you're in the ocean, and I'm the water." Yeesh.

Of course, the whole reason this film exists is to show off a bunch of pokey 3D effects, and although the experience is pretty patchy on DVD, The Stewardesses does deliver on a few cheap thrills in that department, particularly during the trip to the amusement park, when the camera vrooms around in a haunted house with scary old ladies poking you in the face with their crutches and disembodied skulls floating eerily around your living room. That was cool, as was the doggie-style porking/ensuing leisure suit fist-fight that follows soon after. Oh, and there's a party scene with a pretty swank teenage psyche band called the Re-Establishment and dozens of stewardesses, all in different uniforms. It is unclear whether they are wearing their work-clothes because they're all going to clock in after getting tanked all night, or they just love wearing polyester minidresses. At any rate, it looks just like a scene out of The Warriors. Only with more bare knees.

As stated, it ends badly, but then it begins pretty badly as well, so who's counting?

Availability: The Stewardesses is available on DVD in a deluxe 2 disc 40th Anniversary Edition from Shout! Factory, which includes two 3D versions of the movie (color and black & white), a 2D version, and a bonus disc with several featurettes, including a short history of 3D, complete with early examples, an explanation of the 3D processes used in the Stewardesses (snore) and a 20 minute collection of interviews from the crew and cast. One of the wiseguys on the crew claims that the lesbian scene is a 'comedy classic', but a still-cute Christina Hart is more honest about this whole tawdry affair.
"The movie is appallingly bad," she says, point blank. And she is not lying.

All I can say is, thank god for T&A.

Oh, and there's two sets of 3D glasses with the DVD, as well. Good luck on finding a willing sucker to sit through it with you.

Clip: Stewardesses trailer

-Ken McIntyre

1 comment:

  1. This is another one that started playing in drive-ins in the south around 1971,and continued to show up on multiple bills for the next 10 or 12 years...usually with other stewardess themed movies like-"Swinging Stewardesses" and "Swedish Fly Girls".


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