OK, I admit that so far we’ve looked at some pretty bad movies. The Lonely Lady. The Giant Claw. Santa Claus. Still, this is where we really start to look at the fringe stuff. If there’s any kind of movie you can’t even really classify as, well, “movies,” it’s the Porno Film. After all, they really just exist to show sexual activities. The fact that they usually try to come up with some kind of “plot” or lame attempts at “characterization” is beside the point. Really, the goal is to include all the requisite scenes: a couple man-woman scenes, a woman-woman, a two guys-one woman scene, whatever. Ultimately, the idea that you need any connecting material between these antics is a conceit. I’m sure they waste the twenty or thirty minutes required to write the “script” for only two reasons. First, dialog scenes waste time. Generally, porn “actors” get paid per sexual performance. So the horrible dialog and acting on display between the, uh, grunt work, eat up time that would otherwise require, say, two more sex scenes. This would drive up the negligible budgets required to make these movies profitable. Second, they allow the people making the films, the “actors,” “directors” and “scriptwriters” to pretend that they’re really making, well, movies. I would imagine this rationalization is very important to people who don’t want to consider themselves ordinary prostitutes, having sex because they’re paid for it. Indeed, apparently our legal system agrees with them, as I’ve never heard of porn stars arrested for prostitution.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to start writing about porno films, for exactly the above reason. They’re not, in a very real sense, movies. So they are excluded from the Cinema Bell Curve. However, let’s examine the evolution of films that existed before the hard-core porno film became legal, and thus profitable enough to be made on the wide scale so common today.
First there were what we might generally call the Social Menace film. These were produced from the Twenties through the Sixties, until loosening legal standards started allowing prurient fare to be made purely for entertainment purposes, without the cloak of “artistic” or “social” justification. The general idea was to have an authority figure, usually a religiously neutral one like a doctor or judge, waging a war against some scourge. These included the usual suspects: marijuana or cocaine, various sexually transmitted diseases, prostitution rings, whatever. Then you introduce, say, a reporter doing a story on whatever “Public Enemy Number One” was the subject. Or perhaps the family member of a deceased “victim” would be seeking information. Maybe one of the “victims” themselves would come seeking salvation. In any case, the audience stand-in would be lectured to by our crusading protagonist, learning the horrifying “facts” regarding the plague threatening the community, the city or even the whole country. Among the regular characters would be the Gangster, who profited (until the end of the movie) from the goings on; the Quack, who would promise a quick but fraudulent fix for the afflicted, leading to certain destruction; and, of course, the Youths Gone Astray. Jail, death and insanity were the inevitable result of straying from the straight and narrow. But that wasn’t the whole reason, or even the main reason, these flicks were made.
No, that would be the lovingly detailed debauchery that preceded the somewhat exaggerated fates of the transgressors. Wild parties, dancing, drinking, drugs and, of course, illicit sex, would be examined in great, “disapproving,” detail. Thus, audiences could enjoy the explicit presentation of subject matter that could only be hinted at in mainstream Hollywood pictures. All while having the satisfaction of pretending to be dutifully engaging in good citizenship. Certainly, these flicks were the only socially valid means to see such sights as nudity at the time. In fact, seeing films from the ’30s, ’40s or ’50s containing nudity and sexual content seems somehow shocking even today.
For the guys who were so desperate as to risk social humiliation, there were “grind houses,” sleazy theaters showing films of strippers and such. Of course, those were the days before aerobics, so the nudity on display wasn’t quite up to the standards of the Cinemax connoisseur of today. These attendees made up the infamous “raincoat” crowd, who wore long coats to disguise their Paul Reubenesque activities. As an added worry, there was the always imminent danger of being caught up in a raid conducted by the local police department’s Vice Squad.
Legal and social rules, however, eventually loosened, partly as a result of the intelligentsia attending foreign films that included content excluded by Hollywood productions. The courts decided that the First Amendment covered works that included “socially relevant” material. Thus skin flicks started including last minute discussions of, say, suicide or drug abuse or political issues in order to provide legal cover for the flesh. Ultimately, two types of films developed. First, the “Nudie Cuties,” films that basically featured lots of nude females, but little or no sexual content. The prime sub-set was the “Nudism” flick, wherein a local nudist colony would come to the attention of the town elders. Someone would go to check out the situation, and end up converted to the “healthy” and “natural” lifestyle of Nudism, which would prove to be mostly about sun worship, and invariably sexually wholesome. Nude volleyball would usually be a highlight.
The Nudie Cuties were driven out of the market by franker films (“soft-core”) that contained much harder sexual content. The bridge to the hardcore porn films, these movies, which today might be rated a hard “R,” contained all the now common carnal activities, although perhaps not in quite the gynecological detail of today’s “adult” pictures. In fact, the sex was usually simulated. These flicks also tended to contain actual attempts at scripting and plot lines, more or less unheard of now (and seldom missed). And although the sex was less graphic, the films would often mix violence and sexual material in a way that today’s porn viewers would undoubtedly find disconcerting. Flagellation and whippings were common, as well as rape scenes. Thus you went from lighter flicks like Trader Hornee, a soft-core spoof of jungle pictures, all the way to, say, Love Camp #9, a despicable flick that detailed the “true events” of sex/concentration camps run by the Nazis during WWII. This kind of stuff was so sick that, frankly, I couldn’t even watch the trailer for Love Camp #9 (contained on a collection of weird film trailers I have), much less the film itself.
For those who are bewildered by the charges that today’s porn flicks typically contain degrading sexual violence and rape, I suppose the market is still being judged by the these films of the ’60s and ’70s. For although hardcore drove out soft-core (which, again, ironically often contained sexual violence that today’s viewer would find more offensive than today’s much more graphic sexual content), it wasn’t until the VCR became available that porn flicks became the multi-billion dollar business they are today. In fact, porn is credited with supporting the VCR in its fragile early days. The VCR for the first time allowed people to conveniently watch porno in the privacy of their own homes, thus reducing any chance of social stigma. The porno market sustained VCR sales until the unit prices dropped enough for them to become the household item they are today. Porno films also largely created the market for prerecorded films on tape, years before regular Hollywood fare became common. As a side effect, as porn became a much larger middle-class market, the films broadened their appeal by dropping the violence, as well as any attempts to distract the audience with a plot or acting. I’m sure there’s specialized markets for harder stuff, say bondage or S/M. But today’s typical porn film, the type found in backrooms in video stores across America, is, other than the sex, fairly innocuous. The biggest problem with them is that they are usually so devoid of anything other than sex that they can just barely be called films.
That out of the way, let’s meet two unusual women: Doris Wishman and Chesty Morgan. Wishman was an oddity, one of the few women to direct Nudie Cuties. Her titles includes such gems as Nude on the Moon, wherein astronauts go the moon and find, yes, nudists. I remember an article on Ms. Wishman I once read (I believe in an issue of Cult Movies Magazine) in which the author perfectly described the Wishman directorial style. He noted that Wishman directed movies like someone who had never seen a movie before. This is a perfect description. Wishman’s movies are directed in the oddest fashion, violating rules of cinematic “language” that you might not even know you knew until you see them broken. The camera is just never looking where it should be. In the middle of a conversation, the camera might wander off the participants and examine furniture or wall decorations. Floor shots are common, with particular, and constant, emphasize on the character’s shoes. If Wishman shoots two people talking, the camera will invariably be on the back of the head of the person speaking, rather than the other way around. Actually, I think that’s probably so when she loops in dialog later, she doesn’t have to bother trying to sync it with lip movement. One of her noted elements is a scene of a nude women swimming in a pool that purportedly appears in many of her films, including Deadly Weapons, her first collaboration with Chesty Morgan.
Chesty was a famous stripper on the strip club circuit, known for her gigantic, hefty-bagesque breasts. However, be warned: these are not the firm silicone wonders on view on Cable TV today, but saggy, mooshy breasts with big, visible veins shooting through them. Aside from her boobs, Chesty was notable for two reasons. First, she possessed the worst collection of clothes in history. Imagine the very worst of Seventies fashions, then imagine them tailored for a woman about three feet thick from front to back. Accentuating the awfulness of her wardrobe is her habit of wearing extremely frilly clothing, presumably in a (vain) attempt to make her freakish form look feminine. She also favored towering platform shoes, on which she constantly wobbles and seems at any given moment about half an inch from tumbling over. Her other notable attribute is the fact that she is, without a doubt, the single worst “actress” to ever be filmed in any context whatsoever. Chesty makes the worst porno star seem like Merle Streep. Replacing her with an inflatable sex doll on wires would improve her performances no end. Basically, Chesty, no matter what she’s doing, always seems horribly bored and fatigued, like someone who has lived for ten thousand years and only wants to die. When Chesty goes undercover as a stripper in Deadly Weapons, you can’t believe anyone could be that bad at it. Then you remember that that is in fact what Chesty really did for a living! She can’t even take a shower or bath naturally.
Word is that Doris and Chesty didn’t get along that well, but apparently Deadly Weapons, wherein Chesty seeks revenge on gangsters by smothering them with her prodigious chestal units (!), made enough bucks to bring them back together. On the Chesty front (no pun intended), there is one major improvement and one horrifying downturn to be found in Double Agent 73. The improvement: Doris, having apparently learned a lesson from the first movie, now has all of Chesty’s dialog dubbed in by another actress. However, this doesn’t come close to mitigating the awful awareness that Chesty had obviously put on a lot of weight between screen appearances. Never really attractive in any normal sense, the stockier Chesty is even more uneasy on the eyes. Aside from Chesty, there is one major improvement over Deadly Weapons: the film’s plot is about ten times goofier, and thus more enjoyable to watch.
We open with a production logo, a rather unimaginative cartoon rendering of a crown, with the legend “Juri Productions, Inc. Presents…” underneath. Seldom, we shall soon see, has a Juri been guilty of such an awful crime (insert your own “O.J. Simpson” joke here). This is followed by a series of images (one hesitates to label it a montage): close-ups of revolvers going off, a woman with her hands behind her back, and finally a close-up of a sparkler, over which the title and an explosion sound effect are superimposed. Next we travel up Chesty Morgan’s body, clad in a black dress. We pause at her Wagnerian bosom, then go on up to her slack, overly mascaraed face. As goofy music begins, she awkwardly negotiates herself out of her top and bra. Grabbing one hefty breast, she pulls upward, resulting in a camera noise and flash effect. This shot recurs throughout the credits and will become “clear” as the movie proceeds.
The first shot of the film proper is of tree branches, followed by an awkward, shaky pull-away shot that establishes the locale as a suburban house. Then, an awkward, shaky zoom-shot (um, Doris, they have these things called “tripods”…) sorta ends up pointing at a window. Inside (I assume), a card game is in progress in front of some giant beaded wall hanging (I think). The only thing worse than the clothes in a Doris Wishman movie is the invariably awful home decor. One guy’s got a huge birthmark on his face. The camera helpfully zooms in and then lingers on it, to make sure we notice it. Back outside, the camera shakily pans left to reveal a guy skulking in the bushes (it’s broad daylight). He checks the windows for access, but is thwarted, as they’re locked. So he goes to the front door and pulls out what are no doubt the actor’s actual house keys. But let’s go along and pretend they’re skeleton keys. Apparently (you have to do a lot of deducing when watching a Wishman film) he uses one on the screen door, and then the front door is unlocked (?).
Inside, an exciting first, as we see our first “shoe” shot of the movie. The camera travels up to reveal a guy with bad ’70s hair and mustache, as well as some hideous home decor. He skulks around, doing a very poor impression of someone searching a room, and then we cut back to his shoes again (!). He walks into another room, meanwhile conducting the least efficient search in cinema history. Amazingly, he happens upon the microfilm he’s looking for, and, instead of heading out the way he came in, goes down another hallway to a completely different door, in an obviously different room than the one he came in. In a virtuoso shot from a master filmmaker, we are treated to intercutting shots of two pairs of shoes, walking on the same ugly red tile and obviously on a collision course to destiny. Sure enough, as Mustache Guy attempts to leave, he’s hit from behind. Birthmark guy refers to his unseen boss as “Mr. Toplar,” a name hazily repeated by the victim. The two henchguys carry him out the door, which proves from the outside to be the same door the guy sneaked into, even though on the inside it’s clearly not the same door. Then, in daylight, in full view of any neighbors, the clever bad guys carry Mustache Guy out into the street and go to toss him into the trunk of a car parked by the curb.
But Mustache Guy isn’t through yet. He kicks Henchguy #1 and punches Birthmark Guy (I think). After some other confusing shots, the two baddies jump in their car and chase Mustache Guy for about a block down the suburban street. They’re going all of about ten miles an hour before, sorta, running him down. Off to the side is a treed area, but they drag him only to the edge of the trees (on what appears to be some guy’s lawn), and leave him there. Mustache Guy is approached by a mysterious associate, and whispers “scar” and “Toplar” before he dies. Then the mysterious guy splits, leaving the body behind.
Next we cut to an establishing shot of what appears to be Gilligan’s Island. Then to people playing volleyball (one team naked, the other wearing shorts). Then some flowers. Some more flowers. Back to the volleyballers. Finally, we spot our heroine, awkwardly lounging on a stone shelf and pretending to read a book. She’s attired in a short red skirt, a black bra-type thing and gigantic flaming red platform shoes. She hears a whimpering sound, and awkwardly looks around. Oddly, it’s not the audience making the noise, but a dog. Then we cut back to Chesty from a different angle, revealing rich rolls of fat. Her giant breasts are trying to escape their harness, looking like ice cream cones that someone attempted to cram a half-gallon of ice cream onto. The whimpering continues. She looks in a totally different direction then she did before, although we cut to the exact same shot, from the same angle, of the dog. Then a close-up of Chesty. Then legs in front of the dog. Somebody throws a handful of grass at it (?). Is it Chesty? It’s really hard to tell. Then we see Chesty standing up in all her dubious glory, about bursting out of her clothes, and then she awkwardly sits in a lawn chair. This allows us to study her garish jewelry, which looks like it came from a Liberace Outlet store. She awkwardly unfastens the wire ties on her giant shoes, affording us an unfortunately clear shot of her stockinged thighs. Then the camera pans down to her feet. Then to a short shot of the dog. Then Chesty’s walking around (after that big production to get her into the chair!). She walks forward until her breasts block the camera lens, terrifying any claustrophobic audience members.
A page over the PA system informs Chesty that she has a phone call. We cut to a phone. Then to make sure we “get” it, we cut to a closer shot of the phone. Chesty (wearing a different top) answers the phone. Throughout the conversation, we cut from a medium shot to a close-up and back again and so on, without any rhyme or reason. Chesty’s dubbed voice learns that she’s being called back to New York, cutting her vacation short. This starts an oddly imperative musical cue– as if something exciting were happening on the screen. No such luck– the end of the movie is a good seventy minutes off. Hanging up the phone, she turns her head and gives a wistful look, obviously thinking “Calgon, take me away!”
Next we see a plane landing, apparently in Stockfootagevania. This is followed by shots of a city, cars driving, and, finally, an office building. Inside, Chesty is getting briefed on her assignment by her boss, Bill. Bill’s office is supposed to be in the aforementioned office building, but is obviously a room in somebody’s house. Chesty apparently is a spy, or government assassin, or something. I must say, though, that neither James Bond or Derek Flint ever spent this much time bitching about having their vacations cut short. It’s hard to summarize the briefing, because the conversation is as goofy and awkward as everything else in the film.
Still, here’s the info highlights:
Bill gives Chesty a kid’s blue report binder containing “leads” on Toplar’s agents. When they are verified, Chesty will be notified with an icon that looks like an 8 with a nail through it. Then she will kill the guy and take his picture. Because any one of the guys working for Toplar might be Toplar (?), it’s imperative that she take their picture after whacking them. Or something. Bill then informs Chesty that it’s “imperative” that she return to the office by 10:00 PM, on March 22nd. This is repeated twice, so that anyone still awake in the audience will understand that this is a crucial piece of information.
Next we see Chesty lying down with a bandage on her left boob. This sets up the film’s ridiculous plot device: an “XL17 camera” has been implanted in Chesty’s, well, chest. It is activated by grabbing her breast and pulling upward, resulting in a camera noise and a flashbulb burst (!). How any of this would work is left to our imaginations. But sure enough, for the rest of the movie, every time Chesty whacks somebody she proceeds to remove her blouse and yank her breast.
Chesty is recovering in what appears less like a hospital room than someone’s very poorly decorated spare bedroom. A nurse comes in, sees that Chesty has shellacked her eyelids with thick, sparkly silver makeup, and notes that she “looks pretty.” This is, perhaps, an esthetic viewpoint that is not overly representative of the public at large’s. The nurse gives Chesty a painkiller. However, a voice over, like a low rent Obi Wan Kenobi advising Luke Skywalker, reminds her to trust no one. Chesty asks the time, and when the nurse turns to look at the room’s garish, intensely ugly clock, palms the pill. Sure enough, the nurse is one of Toplar’s agents. Believing she has successfully eliminated Chesty, she goes to phone in her success. However, as she hangs up, Chesty meanders down the hall (in a horrifying blue, frilly nightgown that leaves her pendulous breasts entirely exposed) and strangles the nurse with the phone cord. Unsurprisingly, this scene is partly represented by a shot of the nurse’s flailing legs and shoes. Chesty then uses her XL17, as the audience, for the first time, ponders exactly how the damn thing is supposed to work.
Presumably leaving the body lying there, Chesty wanders into her bathroom. Standing in front of the mirror, she awkwardly removes her bandages. The bandages stick, and it looks a little painful. Still, Chesty’s grimaces of agony are a bit much, particularly for a secret agent. I mean, if she’s that freaked out by a sticky bandage, she probably wouldn’t stand up well to torture. Out in the hall, a note is pushed under the door. Upon opening it she finds what appears to be a five year old’s conception of a coded message. Her translated instructions: go to the “Bigelow Rock Bar” and find a fellow by the name of Mark Chiaro, who is Toplar’s “top man.”
To establish the “rock bar,” we see colored strobe lights, the back of a band, a close up of fingers strumming a guitar, and, wow, a shot of the dancing patron’s shoes. This is followed by continued stock footage of dancers at a club, all from the waist down. We spot what must be Mark Chiaro, as he’s the only guy over fifty. The also too-old Chesty comes up and engages him in conversation. Say, if you look real close, you’ll see that Chesty and Chiaro are, in fact, not actually in a club. Yes, through the magic of editing, footage of Chesty and Chiaro shot in front of a minimalist background of golden tinfoil is “cleverly” inserted between “dance club” stock footage. This effect is, uh, somewhat less than seamless. In between stock footage shots, Chesty and her quarry engage in banter. For instance, Chiaro tells Chesty that she’s “a fine looking chick,” leading one to suspect that he has not exactly been nursing his liquor. He informs Chesty that’s he’s in Room 6, in case she gets lonely. He grabs her nearly full glass, and goes to the bar for a “refill.” Chesty takes advantage of his absence to split.
The next twenty seconds contain more odd elements than you can shake a stick at, a Doris Wishman trademark. For instance, the first thing we see, the number “6” on the door, looks phony. I think it’s just been cut out of a kid’s book and taped to the door. You know you’re in trouble when a filmmaker can’t even adequately fake a hotel room number. Chesty proceeds to breaks into the room with an inadequate looking “explosive” prop. This, unfortunately, doesn’t quite proceed fast enough. We can’t help but notice subtle clues that, rather than standing in a hallway and entering a room, Chesty is in fact already in a room, and apparently “breaking into” the hallway. The sharp-eyed viewer will note, for instance, that the doorknob’s on the left side. Or that the wallpaper in the “hall” screams “kitchen.” And to the left of the door you can see the room’s light switch panel.
After “blowing” the lock, Chesty enters an office that of course looks like nothing connected to the door she just “came through.” After searching for, like, five seconds, Chesty finds an incriminating 8 x 10 photo in the unlocked desk. She removes her coat, revealing hideous-even-for-her green plaid pants and an orange and white patterned blouse. Even worse, she now removes her blouse to access her hidden camera. Um, wouldn’t a secondary camera, one that you didn’t need to remove your top to use, be a handy item for our heroine? She proceeds to photograph miscellaneous office correspondence as well. This scene gives us plenty of time (believe you, me) to check out Chesty’s giant, saggy knockers and thick, flabby trunk. Suddenly, Chiaro shows up and attacks. We cut to slow motion (rather redundant at this point). Chesty defends herself by whopping Chiaro with a monstrous mammary, blinding him with the flash from her built-in camera. As Chiaro lays stunned, Chesty runs past the clearly seen exit door toward the camera. A previous establishing shot showed this to be a wall. But Chesty is next seen outside. Ah, another moment of that ol’ Wishman magic.
In spite of the fact that she was just in a jumping ‘teen “rock bar,” when Chesty goes outside it’s broad daylight. Chesty awkwardly waddles to her beaten up car, ponderously followed by Chiaro, who jumps into his own broken down auto. A “car chase” ensues, with dubbed in screeching sounds and the film sped up like when a gaggle of women are chasing Benny Hill. In spite of the reckless speed of their chase, we actually see a number of cars passing them by. Chesty finally pulls over (?), and Chiaro comes over with a pistol. He transfer her to his car. They drive around awhile. One sorta notices that every shot out the side of the moving car shows a different background, from an industrial area to a suburban road to a city block. Finally, Chiaro pulls over. He tells her to get out of the car, as she pulls open a lipstick and dabs her mouth. As she leaves the car, the camera zooms in on the lipstick container she left on the seat and holds on it, to make sure we “get” it. Then we see Chesty’s giant white platform shoes, as she runs as fast as she can (needless to say, Jesse Owens wouldn’t have lost any sleep). Chiaro laughs and leans out the car window. He’s holding his pistol between the straightened fingers of both hands, as if it fired when squeezed, like a plastic ketchup bottle. However, just before he kills Chesty, his car explodes, presumably the result of a bomb in Chesty’s lipstick. Back home, Chesty scratches out Chiaro’s name in her blue report folder.
Next we cut to Birthmark Guy’s dreary apartment. He’s making coffee, and wearing what appears to be the same shirt and “ascot” tie he was wearing in the beginning of the film. For a top lieutenant in a multi-million dollar heroin ring, he seems to live in a rather, eh, Spartan lifestyle. Toplar calls, complaining about a woman (gee, could it be our Chesty?). He doesn’t know her name, but wants her eliminated. Birthmark Guy sagely notes that “Dimitri” is the man for the job. Hanging up, he calls Dimitri and sets up the hit. During the conversation we learn that a) even though Toplar didn’t know Chesty’s name, he was able to provide her address (!), b) that Birthmark Guy’s name is “Igor” (!!), and c) that Toplar’s minions refer to him as “Mr. T” (insert your own obligatory “I pity the fool!” joke here).
Meanwhile, Chesty’s answering the door to her own dreary apartment. She doesn’t bother looking through the spy-eye in the door, and it appears that the door wasn’t even locked. It turns out to be a woman who’s a friend of Chesty’s. Chesty goes to the kitchen to gets some refreshments. Hey, that wallpaper looks familiar! If I didn’t know better, I’d almost say that the kitchen door is the one Chesty blew the lock on to get into Chiaro’s office. Anyway, when Chesty opens the fridge, the camera zooms over its contents. Chesty then says that she has to run out. Here’s my theory: that we’re to deduce that she didn’t have the refreshments she wanted to offer her friend, and she’s going to run out and get them. This is purely conjecture, though, and I’m sure you could easily come up with a theory that’s just as good. Gee, so Chesty’s left the apartment, and her friend, another woman, is waiting there alone. I wonder what’ll happen next?
Outside, Chesty happens to pick up a piece of scrap paper, which turns out to her next set of instructions. It reads, in part, “Atlantis-Seven…He’s Our Man” [“…If He Can’t Do it…No One Can…Burma Shave!”], and informs her he’ll be at the zoo that afternoon. Back in the apartment, her pal is stripping down to take a shower. She’s no great looker or anything, but at this point any woman that looks vaguely human is a relief. So she’s in the shower and Dimitri the assassin enters. Opening the shower door, we see he has a knife, which he carries by sticking the blade down the front of his pants. Yeah, that’s how’d I’d carry it. It turns out to be one of those magician’s prop knives, that leave a trail of prop blood across any surface it’s dragged over. I’m sorry to say it, but yeah, we’re now “treated” to Wishman’s lame rip-off of the shower scene from Psycho. Needless to say, Alfred Hitchcock wouldn’t have lost any sleep. Dimitri stabs her like fifty times and leaves with blood all over himself. You can see why mobsters trust him with sensitive jobs like killing off a secret agent. When Chesty returns, she notes the corpse of her friend in her shower. Horrified moans are dubbed in to reflect her dismay, but Chesty’s slightly irritated facial reaction makes it seem more likely that’s she’s thinking, “Brother! if it’s not one thing, it’s another!” She next checks her watch, which appears to be a clumsy Soviet knock-off of a “Swatch.”
An “arty” segue shows the watch forty-five minutes later, and a shot of a cavorting seal establishes that Chesty’s at the zoo, looking for “Atlantis-Seven.” Amazingly, the woman who couldn’t find a door with a “6” on it to shoot manages to do some location shooting at an actual zoo. After wasting some time with zoo shots, a man in bell-bottomed pants and an ugly double breasted suit coat, worn over a patterned polyester shirt sporting a gigantic collar, intercepts Chesty. He passes her a note establishing that he’s been sent by her boss. His instructions are to watch over her. She at first says she doesn’t need any help, but then accepts the situation (I think). Amazingly mellow for an assassin, Chesty notes that “flowers are pretty,” leading her new partner to state how beautiful Chesty is. I’ll tell you, of all the movie universes I’ve seen, the one I least would want to be stuck in is one where Chesty Morgan is one of the most beautiful women in the world.
As Chesty and this guy walk by, the camera zooms in on a bush (?). Then we cut back to Igor’s apartment, who at least is wearing a new shirt and tie (even though, hey, isn’t this supposed to be later the same day? Why would he have changed his clothes now?). My theory is that the zoom shot was to indicate that Chesty was being spied on, but I can’t really prove it. Igor calls Dimitri and informs him he “hit” the wrong target. He tells him that “Mr. T” is mighty mad, and that if he messes up again, he’ll be bumped off himself.
The next scene, for a straight minute and a half, appears to exist purely to highlight the background music. Said music sounds like a generic TV drama theme, or the music for an industrial film (“Zinc…making the lives of all Americans safer for the future!”). Sounding like a bland first draft of the “LA Law” theme, the music blares over the otherwise silent sequence. Chesty enters her apartment. She goes to the tacky corner bar unit and makes a drink. She sits down and removes her frightening polka-dotted blouse with its giant frilly collar. This reveals the industrial strength bra that supports her two talents. Then the bra comes off.
As our featured tune finally ends, we are unshocked to see Dimitri enter from another room with a revolver. You know, for a government secret agent, Chesty has an awfully poor home security system. I mean, this is the same afternoon that her friend was stabbed to death in her shower. You’d think she’d have at least looked around. Anyway, as Dimitri approaches her, Chesty strokes the spout of this horrible-beyond-description decanter on the bar. A stream of smoke comes out. It apparently effects Dimitri. As he staggers, the camera plays hazily over Chesty’s naked chest. Actually, it seems equally likely that the sight of Chesty’s gazongas are what’s causing him to pass out. As Dimitri lays prostrate on the floor, Chesty chokes him to death by filling his mouth with ice cubes (?). When he’s dead, she takes his picture, per instructions. Then she goes back to the bar, grabs her drink, and makes a phone call. “I have a package for you to pick up,” she slyly notes. Apparently, nobody bitches about the fact that this is presumably the second “package” she’s needed picked up at her apartment today.
Next, in a scene that doesn’t even try to justify itself, we spy on Chesty in bed, wearing only panties. She rolls around mercilessly, exposing her beefy, slab-like back, as the camera cruelly continues to tour every lumpy bit of her body. The phone rings, and it’s “Atlantis-Seven.” He asks her out for dinner and dancing, because she’s so, uh, attractive. This is a little hard to take, as Chesty answers the phone in a dressing gown designed to keep her rotting-pumpkin breasts exposed. Chest happily agrees, and learns that Atlantis-Seven’s real name is Tim. The scene adds with an odd back-lit image of Chesty, barechested with her gown whipping around her, spinning in slow motion like a mutated Stevie Nicks.
Tim and Chesty are next seen repairing to his apartment after their night on the town. Chesty is wearing an absolutely indescribable outfit. It’s sort of a white silk pantsuit, with puffed out legs, a frilly collar and, of course, a low cut front that reveals her Grand Canyonesque cleavage. As well, she’s wearing a gigantic “diamond” studded necklace that would embarrass Zsa Zsa Gabor. Oh, and the fact she was to go dancing didn’t keep her from wearing pants that hang down and brush along the floor. The fact that the clumsy Chesty even makes it to the sofa seems like a triumph. Chesty and Tim begin exchanging looks of “passion,” and soon are making out on the couch, Tim fondling and kissing Chesty’s chest. EE-Yuck! This is a scene that will haunt me for years. Boy, the things I endure to bring you people these reports.
Chesty’s blue notebook reveals her next assignment to be a Larry Koch. (It’s weird how, although we never see Chesty remove any of the previous sheets from the notebook, her next target’s name is always on the front page whenever she opens it.) Immediately after this, Chesty enters a bedroom wearing a revolting frilly white long-sleeve blouse and dark blue short-shorts adorned with a daisy. Exaggerated “action” music blares over Chesty opening a drawer. This confused me until I figured out that she’s probably supposed to be in Koch’s room conducting a search. Koch’s room is decorated with leopard-skin wallpaper, a painting of a lion, and a zebra patterned bedspread. Chesty pulls open drawers and glances at the very top of their contents before closing them again. This search, unsurprisingly, is quickly punctuated by a shot of Chesty’s current grotesque footwear. For those keeping track, they aren’t platforms, but rather orange pumps with wobbly five-inch tall heels.
Chesty again quickly comes across what are presumably incriminating documents. One really has to wonder how this heroin ring keeps going when all its major operators insist on leaving vital documents in unlocked cabinets and desks. Of course, the finding of documents inevitably leads to Chesty removing her blouse and bra yet again. A couple of quick snapshots (while Chesty covers the documents with her hand to hold them down, thus obscuring their contents), and another blare of music, as Chesty rushes to return them to their “hiding” place. Suddenly, when we most expect it, Koch (presumably) enters. Facing Chesty, he pulls a revolver from under his jacket. Ha ha, but Chesty is too fast, and throws an earring at him (I think we’re to recognize that it’s a special deadly “spy” earring). Oddly enough, even though they are directly facing each other, Koch grabs the side of his neck, indicating perhaps that the earring is designed to mimic the trajectory of, say, a boomerang. As he dies, he also (like Dimitri) has hazy visions of Chesty’s naked instruments, which, frankly, I think is just adding insult to injury. After he falls, large coil earring embedded in his neck, Chesty takes the requisite photos, gathers up her clothes (but not donning them), and splits. Finally, we see her scratching Koch’s name out in the blue notebook.
Next we cut to a phone table in yet another tragically decorated room. Really, someday an international symposium of top scientists will have to be convened to determine if it’s the clothing or the home decor in this movie that is the more ghastly. It’s Tim’s place, and he soon crosses to the phone to call Bill, their boss. Oddly, although a secretary answers, Bill is obviously at his house, not his office. Bill instructs Tim to curtail investigating “Highlight 1,” as something bigger has happened: Agent 73 (Chesty) has gone missing (when was this?). Bill orders Tim to make finding Chesty his top priority, and suggests that she ought to be at the “big race” the next day, with Sam Burr (who?). This is strange, because is he knows where she’s going to be, well, then she’s not really missing, is she?
A sharp blare of jazzy music pops up, apparently to punctuate Tim lighting a cigarette (this also apparently requires a dramatic zoom shot). Then Tim crosses to the window, staring out at some stock footage of a highway. An interior monologue reveals that Tim can’t get Chesty out of his mind. Sure, he muses, she’s beautiful (?!), but he’s “had a hundred beautiful women, as beautiful as she.” I don’t think this is quite the boast he means it to be. Still, he admits to himself, “there is something different about her” (to say the least!). Falling in love with her would be dangerous, but…Here we also note Tim’s amazing “spy” ability to give nothing away to an observer. For even though his thoughts reflect the deepest inner turmoil, Tim’ s face reflects, at best, boredom. I must say that this reflects a seldom seen level of talent on the actor’s part (actually, I seem to see it all the time).
A rather un-official looking sign informs us that we’re at the “Horgan Race-Track.” Tim arrives in his car, and gets out wearing what looks like what Tom Laughlin’s Billy Jack would wear if his clothes had been altered by “Starsky & Hutch”‘s Huggy Bear. Close-ups of his footwear reveal black boots with twin red stripes on top. After standing there for roughly one second, his interior voice reveals that if Chesty and/or Sam Burr “are here, I sure can’t see them.” Then we immediately cut to stock footage of a huge race track, both inside and outside, with about ten thousand people in attendance. Yeah, you might as well give up if you haven’ t found them by now. Actually, the truly knowledgeable film buff will perceive that the actor playing Tim isn’t even at a race track! In fact, he’s just standing in a field, as the movie splices in stock footage of guys laying bets, horsing rounding the track, etc. Still, the illusion is fostered with a level of skill seldom seen on a film editor’s part (actually, I seem to see it all the time). Exhausted by his intensive efforts to locate Chesty, Tim heads out.
Confusingly (or it would be if we could follow anything that was happening here), we next see our friend the blue folder again. This time the name in front is “Hans Schmidt” (hmmm, would that be French?). Next we cut to Chesty in what is, by far, the worst outfit she’s worn yet. It’s a matching red top and bottom, with big white dots, sporting a big frilly collar, gigantic frilly ballooning wrists and matching bellbottom pant legs. It looks, and I mean this literally, like a clown costume. Chesty approaches a door, which has a piece of note paper taped to it, with “Hans Schmidt” written across it in purple marker (really! I swear!). Chesty pulls a wire from her purse, and pretends to pick the lock. Then, apparently cutting to another movie entirely, a man and woman enter a bedroom. Wildly inappropriate voices and dialog follow their actions (although we never see their mouths while they’re supposed to be talking). This leads one to postulate that the couple aren’t in fact speaking, but rather poorly miming lines coming from, say, a hidden radio. They start making out. Considering that neither participant looks likely to win any beauty contests any time soon, this is more unpleasant that sexy. Of course, in a world where everything thinks Chesty Morgan represents a high standard of physical beauty, these two are probably famous for their god-like attractiveness.
The woman breaks the clinch so that she can change into something more comfortable. In this case, this means changing her current top for another top, so she goes and picks out a frightful leopard-skin patterned shirt. Then she walks into the bathroom (magically now wearing said leopard-skin top) to brush her hair. The bathroom is wallpapered with a revolting pattern featuring great big flowers. As she brushes, Chesty jumps from behind the shower curtain (oh, so this is the same movie!) and awkwardly pretends to give the woman kind of a karate chop thing across the side of her neck. She then binds and gags her unconscious victim, pausing only to (yawn) take her picture.
Next, she removes a bottle from her purse and rubs some liquid on her breasts. She goes into the bedroom, where her target lies slumbering. Getting into bed, she half wakes him up. He rolls over, and, not looking at her face, (and this is truly unbelievable) supposedly doesn’t notice either her Bozo outfit or the fact that her chest is about ten times larger than his wife’s (or whatever). He begins nuzzling her breasts, and by the time he looks up to see that the woman he’s suckling isn’t his partner, it’s too late. Yes, apparently Chesty rubbed poison on her breasts (!) and the guy dies, after the compulsory “hazy breasts” montage. Chesty removes her bra and takes Schmidt’s picture (although she didn’t take off her bra when photographing the woman). Then she goes back into the bathroom to bathe and towel her breasts, ignoring the now awakened and squealing woman. The scene is closed by the mandatory scratching-out-of-the-name.
Back to the phone table in Tim’s apartment. It rings, and Tim, wearing a truly adjective-defying shirt, comes and picks it up. It’s Bill, who basically informs Tim to get off his ass and find Chesty (who, I guess, is supposed to still be missing).
The blue notebook’s next listing is Igor Stotsky. You know, Birthmark Guy. In a typical Wishman “who cares?” touch, the notebook is obviously opened by a man’s hand, not Chesty’s. Also, the hand writing is obviously different from the rest of the listings. I have to conclude that they forgot to shoot Igor’s name when they filmed the others, and shot it later when they were putting the movie together. At least the notebook looks the same.
In any case, Chesty ends up in an elevator outside Igor’s room, wearing her plaid green pants and bright red platform shoes. She pauses in the hallway, looking confused as the camera zooms in and out on her face. But her cat-like reflexes are too late. Igor pops out from a door behind her, and hustles her into his typically tacky apartment. During the “struggle,” the camera cuts to a close-up of an empty beer bottle on the floor. This might mean that the bottle will later come into play, then again, maybe it’s just a close-up of an empty beer bottle. After all, we also now endure our three thousandth meaningless close-up of Chesty’s monstrous cleavage.
Igor ties Chesty to a chair, then goes over to the apartment door and closes it. He mocks Chesty, and she spits on him. Well, actually, we see a close-up of her spitting, and the spittle can clearly be seen going about three inches, presumably landing in her lap. Oddly, though, when we cut to Igor sitting about two feet away from her, he’s wiping spittle off his face. It must have ricocheted or something. Igor slaps her for her impertinence. Or maybe because he’s a film buff. In fact, he slaps her repeatedly, maybe because it’s hard to hurt someone when you keep stopping your hand before actual contact is made. Plus, you can see that it’s in fact the same “slap” footage repeated a couple of times. In one characteristic Wishman edit, we watch Igor launch his closed fist into Chesty’s face, but when we cut to the blow actually landing, it’s the same open-handed slap. When he’s finally done “working her over,” we note the charcoal rubbed on Chesty’s face to cleverly simulate bruising. Wow, movie magic!
Overcome by Chesty’s fabulous beauty, Igor begins to molest her. Hey, what red-blooded guy wouldn’t take advantage of having the gorgeous Chesty Morgan tied up in his living room? Right, guys? Fortunately for Chesty, Igor is interrupted by a knock at the door. Hey, it’s Gerta, the woman Chesty subdued when she liquidated Hans Schmidt (Say, notice how “Hans Schmidt” and “Gerta” are both German names? Well, that attention to detail is why Doris Wishman is The Master). Why, Gerta wasn’t an innocent bystander, she was part of the heroin ring the whole time! Gerta takes advantage of the situation by trying to scare Chesty. She does this by repeatedly swinging her hand at Chesty’s face, but always stopping about an inch away from actually hitting her. This is so effective that it causes stage makeup blood to run down from Chesty’s mouth. In a I-didn’t-really-need-to-see-that shot, we watch a drop of it fall onto Chesty’s breasts.
Chesty begs for a drink of water. Gerta sarcastically agrees to get “our capitalistic pig” (since when were these guys supposed to be Communists?) a drink. She comes back with a paper cup like you’d get in a movie theater. But then, instead of giving it to Chesty, she starts cackling and drinks it herself! Gerta, you fiend!! Has your cruelty no bounds?! Chesty falls back into the chair, and we get another charming close-up of her chest as more stage blood drip onto it. Igor then complains that he’s hungry (?), and tells Gerta to round up some chow. She leaves to get sandwiches.
The phone rings, and Igor goes to answer it. Chesty takes advantage of this break in their scrutiny to cause some gizmo in her ring (I guess) to shoot sparks, which causes the twine binding her hands to fall apart in some odd fashion. Hey, that scene was in the opening credits! Cool, huh. Chesty then unties her legs, grabs the earlier mentioned bottle, and smashes it to create a jagged weapon. Meanwhile, Igor is mystified when Toplar orders him to release Chesty unharmed. Igor reenters the living room when Gerta arrives. Their backs turned, Chesty makes her attack, slashing Igor’s face with the bottle. Then she proceeds to give Gerta another karate chop, or Vulcan Death Grip, or something. After photographing Igor’s “mutilated” face, Chesty makes her exit.
Bill, Chesty’s boss, is pacing his office. A close-up of the clock reveals that it’s about twenty-five minutes until (presumably) the 10:00 deadline when Chesty was told to show up there (see earlier in the article). A guy enters, and Bill tells him to look at the clock. Another close-up of the clock follows, and we’re amazed to see that ten minutes has passes since the last close-up of the clock eight seconds ago (I timed it). Boy, time flies when you’re really, really bored. We’ve never seen the guy in Bill’s office before, and apparently he’s there solely as an excuse to engage in some expository dialog. Bill explains about Chesty’s mission, and how they don’t know what Toplar looks like, and then reveals the big secret: the camera in Chesty’s breast is “set to go off at ten o’clock” (!!!).
Yep, the camera contains a bomb, but why they would do this (later Bill lamely reveals his belief that Chesty would by better off dead than captured), or at least not tell Chesty about it, truly beggars the imagination. I mean, let’s be frank here, it’s to provide a “suspenseful” time element to the end of the movie, and has no internal logic. Meanwhile, another glance at the clock, now about a minute since the last look, reveals that another seven minutes have passed. It’s now about 9:53, meaning Chesty has, I figure, fifty seconds to make the 10:00 p.m. deadline. Then…wow, big surprise. Chesty stumbles in at the last minute. Bill calls for an ambulance, which we’re to presume will show up and get Chesty to a surgeon in the three remaining minutes before the bomb blows up. Over the image of Chesty collapsed on the floor, a doctor preparing for surgery is superimposed (how arty!). Thank goodness, they were just in time (duh)!
Later, Bill is getting ready to view the pictures Chesty took. These have oddly enough been transferred to a movie reel rather than slides. The now recovered Chesty joins him to compare notes. When they view the picture Chesty took of the nurse she killed (c’mon…you remember! The one that tried to poison Chesty in the beginning of the movie?), someone recognizes her. In spite of the fact that’s the woman’s obviously dead, he rather oddly asks, “Linda Torrance! Is she still around?” They finally run through all the pictures, ending on a picture of Tim. Apparently, Chesty’s camera went off when they were, uh, frankly, I don’t want to think about it. Oddly, a second shot of Tim is a side shot. Why, he’ s got a scar on his left ear! He’s Toplar! How amazing that no-one ever noticed his scar before. Or argued that Igor has a big scar, so maybe he’s Toplar. Actually, though, since this is a “hard-hitting” spy melodrama, it’s pretty much a plot requirement that Chesty be betrayed. And since we know Bill isn’t Toplar (or he wouldn’t have had Chesty rushed to the hospital), process of elimination leaves only one other character the betrayer could be: Tim. Chesty demands that Bill let her bring Tim in alone, without any help.
Yet next we cut to Chesty in her own apartment (I think). She’s wearing a hideous nightgown, open down the entire front. A couple of very quick shots lead me to suspect that she’s (yuck!) completely naked. Luckily, her first full frontal nudity scene is restricted to extremely short flashes, though if they’re correct about how the unconcious mind can decipher subliminally fast images, well, then, I’m pretty much scarred for life. Chesty engages in an interior monalog of her own, bitterly noting that she had thought that Tim was “the one,” and that they’d end up with a house in the country and (ewwww!) children. Instead, he’d only been using her. Now angry and full of purpose, she puts down her cup of coffee and leaves the room. You can, in fact, faintly see the boom mike’s shadow on her head when she stands up to leave.
At Tim’s place, he gets up to answer the doorbell. It’s, of course, Chesty, and as lush romantic music plays (or at least romantic music that sounds composed by a lush) fills the soundtrack, Tim reveals his love for Chesty. He pretty much confesses to being Toplar (though not in so many words), but wants to make amends, and asks Chesty to marry him (which would, admittedly, expedite an awful lot of sins). He’s shocked, however, when Chesty answers by pulling a gun and shooting him dead. This moment contains a classic “Wishman”: the director had one stock close-up shot of a snub-nosed revolver going off in front of a black wall that she used whenever a gunshot was required. The eagle-eyed will note, however, that Chesty and Tim are in front of a yellow wall, and that the pistol she pulls is in fact not a revolver at all, but a semi-automatic. Ahhh, who else guarantees you stuff like that in every movie? Anyway, considering that Tim confessed and everything, you’d think Chesty could at least have apprehended him rather than killing him, but, you know, “Hell hath no fury….” After staring remorsefully (I guess) at the corpse, Chesty heads home.
Just as she gets there, the phone rings as the film sets up its “hilarious” coda. It’s Bill, telling Chesty he has another assignment in Instanbul (he never asks about Tim or anything). In a replay of the “comic” scene in the beginning of the movie when he interrupted her vacation to assign her the case covered by the film, Chesty tells Bill “no way.” But then, over a final shot of Chesty’s cleavage, we see a superimposed plane taking off. At first we’re confused. After all, given Chesty’s cleavage it doesn’t seem unreasonable that a plane could land there. But then a voice-over informs us “that we’ll be landing in Instanbul in five minutes.” Oh, Chesty, where will your life of danger lead you next?
Of the various pieces of tripe I’ve reviewed here, this is the one I really must suggest you actually procure and watch yourselves. (Secret Agent 73 and Chesty’s first film, Deadly Weapons, as well as other weird stuff, can be purchased through Something Weird Video. There’s a link to their webpage in my Link List.) This film is made in a way that makes Ed Wood’s stuff look like Orson Welles’. I’m not exaggerating here. The acting, the camera work, the editing, the musical cues, everything. Words fail, and ultimately this films must be seen to be truly dis-appreciated.
I think all the dialog was improvised, often resulting only in sentence fragments. So there’s no “funny” bad dialog to report.