Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Working Girls (1974)

Directed by Stephanie Rothman. This ensemble cast-driven exploitation film has too much going on and never pursues any part of it to develop a theme but also never sticks with anything too long to bore you. The end result is that this never quite good nor quite bad.

This is actually a famous movie in the exploitation realm. It’s highly creative home video title in the U.S. on VHS was “Elvira Naked” because actress Cassandra Peterson, more famous for Vampirella-styled TV-hostess Elvira has a strip scene in the flick.

Otherwise, a huge cast makes the overall acting competence score here typical; nobody is great, some are better than others. The comic stand-out is Solomon Sturges as Vernon Sudsmith IV, a multi-millionaire who gives an unusual job to Honey (Sarah Kennedy), who seems like the main character of the film until about the 15-minute mark when the plotline goes haywire.

In addition to Honey’s career crisis, we see Jill and Nick struggle with a doomed relationship because their jobs as a strip club manager and a small-time gangster get in the way. We also watch Denise struggle as a painter despite being the only one in the whole lot with a place to live – a palatial townhouse far nicer than anything I’ll ever own. We see Mike’s descent into drug addiction and folk music, with no hint of which is worse.

As a melodrama it moves quickly and has a pretty damn good ending, and as an exploitation flick it has the strip club storyline that supplies nudity and all of the actresses are great looking. Female directors were exceedingly rare in this genre and it’s a shame Stephanie Rothman never made another film. I plan to see her 1973 flick, “Group Marriage,” which I recently got a copy of, sometime soon.

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