Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Naughty Stewardesses (1975)

Directed by Al Adamson
Starring Connie Hoffman, Marilyn Joi, Donna Young, Sydney Jordan
Rated R

"Eat Your Heart Out, Burt Reynolds!"

70's Z-king Al Adamson - the genius-blunderer behind eyeball searing trash like Dracula VS. Frankenstein (1971) and Brain of Blood (1972) - and his longtime partner in grime, producer Sam Sherman, clearly thought 1975 was the Year of the Stewardess. Together, they produced two waitress-in-the-sky epics in '75: Blazing Stewardesses and The Naughty Stewardesses. Although they shared several cast members, both films were quite different from one another. Blazing was a cringe-worthy 'comedy' full of creaky old vaudeville acts and slapstick gags. Naughty Stewardesses, on the other hand, was a sexploitation/kidnap drama mash-up with a generous dose of nudity and a creaky old cowboy. Both made a bundle at the drive-ins during their initial releases, but they have not aged equally well. Blazing is literally painful to watch at this point, even with the benefit of 70's nostalgia-goggles. Naughty Stewardesses, on the other hand, still gets the job done. In fact, it remains one of Adamson's most consistently watchable films, and may be his strongest directorial effort, next to 1969's notorious Satans's Sadists. Not surprisingly, he reportedly hated it.

Debbie (Connie Hoffman) is a golden-haired starchild from Nowheresville, headed to Los Angeles to discover herself. She nabs a decent gig as a stewardess, and even ends up rooming with a whole house full of them.

Her new roomies - Jane (Sydney Jordan), Barbara (Marilyn Joi, Ilsa Harem Keeper of the Oil Shieks), and Margie (Donna Young, Fugitive Girls) - are all free-spirits prone to mile-high club antics and sexy, extravagant house parties. In fact, they throw an anything-goes bash for Jane's birthday just a couple days after Debbie arrives, complete with a live penis-cake for raunchy Jane.

This proves all too much for small-town Debbie, who is quite unsure whether she wants to be part of this permissive new lifestyle. Margie talks her off the ledge, however, and the two begin to bond. Debbie calms down, and the girls resume frolicking through the friendly skies. And then, presumably because it was cheap to film, the stews go traipsing around the Las Vegas strip, gawking at the neon and occasionally tugging at a slot machine.

Later, during a bumpy flight, some dude starts having an allergic reaction to something. Or maybe he's choking, it's never all that clear. The point is, the fucker turns purple.

He is saved by retired soldier Brewster (40's cowboy star Robert Livingston), a smooth-talking ladies' man/rich old bastard. Despite the fact that he's a cadaverous 70 year old, the stews are quite taken with him. He even talks Debbie into going home with him.

When he gets there, there's already a naked broad waiting for him in his bed. He leaves Debbie downstairs and tells her he has to attend to a sick dog upstairs. So he bangs the chick and then sends her packing, so he can work on Debbie. Not a bad night for a great-grandpa.

Presumably, Adamson cast Livingston because he was a contemporary/friend of Al's dad, cowboy star Victor "Denver Dixon" Adamson. Fair enough, and Livingston was certainly spry for 71, but he was clearly 25 years too old for the role. The ridiculous, ill-fitting blue jumpsuit they have him in for half of the movie doesn't help the case much, either.

At any rate, Debbie's latest flight takes her to San Francisco, so she decides to see the sights. She ends up in a cab with Cal (Richard Smedley, The Abductors) a talky driver who tells her she'd make a great model. That shit has to work once in a while, right? Somewhere along the way, he gets into a road rage incident with a burly black guy in a VW Bug, who punches him in the chest so hard it makes his head bleed.

Naturally, Debbie ends up going home with him, just to make sure that he's OK. Once he gets her in his place, he starts to show her his collection of photographs, and she agrees to model for him.

Cue the takin' pictures montage, complete with a horrendous/awesome Jesusploitation number by John Kay's pre-Steppenwolf band The Sparrow called "The Rainsun Song" that starts out like warbly acid-folk, but bursts into Polyphonic Spree-esque sunshine pop by the chorus.

Also, there's a bunch of Hare Krishnas wandering around. You used to see those fuckers everywhere. Where'd they all go?

That all goes so well, they go home and do a topless shoot. But afterward, Cal starts crying. This is what you would call a "warning sign".

Creaky old perv Brewster throws a bash at his place. Barbara pops her top and frugs around the swimming pool while her boyfriend EV (Al Richardson, Mean Mother) raps with Cal. Cal explains that he's looking for work as a photographer, and EV tells him he might have a gig for 'em. Hardcore porn!

Cal doesn't seem to fazed by the offer, but then he starts hassling Dab about how he hates her friends. And then he splits. Eventually, the party breaks up, allowing Brewster the opportunity to hit on Debbie. Amazingly, she lets the skeletal old bastard have his way with her. So that was kinda gross. In the morning, Brewster drives her to work, and she says, "That was the most delirious, wonderful night I've ever had."

Brewster drops her off, picks up Margie, and brings her home to fuck in some sort of French sex basket. Not a bad day's work for an 80 year old.

Meanwhile, our man Cal is really losing it. He calls Debbie to reconcile, but she blows him off, so he threatens her and hangs up. Then he goes back to work shooting "Locked Loins", but starts spazzing out mid-shoot.

He tells EV that he's part of the "People's Liberation Front", which has helped out "Lots of blacks and Chicanos". He also says they get by on ripping off rich old fuckers like Brewster. If EV will help him out, he can knock over Brewster for $50,000, and also get back at Debbie in the process. Clearly, Cal needs a rest. Preferably at the state hospital.

EV agrees to help him - for two-thirds of that take. That's ridiculous, but Cal's nuts, so he goes along with it. AV tricks the girls into thinking they're going skiing, but he really ends up kidnapping them in a cabin and holding them for ransom. Brewster agrees to pay the 50K, but plans on giving them something else entirely - a hail of bullets.

Again, pretty ballsy plan for a 95 year old guy.

Back in the cabin, Cal admits to Debbie that he is both impotent and certifiable. Then he rapes her. Afterwards, she slips out the window and makes a run for it through the snow. EV takes off after, and we rush towards a thrilling climax full of rapists, kidnappers, pissed-off stewardesses, and old dudes with high-powered rifles.

Stylistically similar to 1979's head-spinning Cheerleader's Wild Weekend - which also starred Marilyn Joi - The Naughty Stewardesses deftly balances tongue-in-cheek humor with 70's scuzzball nihilism and TV Movie-of-the-week style-action.

Of course, we are dealing with an Al Adamson film, so there's a fair amount of stock footage and stilted dialogue to wade through, but even so, the performances are solid, the girls - particularly Sydney Jordan, who sadly never acted again - are both fetching and frequently undressed, the music is both ridiculous and sublime, the over-aged cowboy is hilariously miscast, and there's a slapdash, anything-goes energy to the production that's difficult to dislike.

And also, it's got stewardesses in minidresses and go-go boots. So everybody wins.

Naughty Stewardesses and Blazing Stewardesses are available in a two-disc set from Retro Seduction Cinema.

- Ken McIntyre

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