Thursday, October 31, 2019

Fleshpot on 42hd Street (1973) Times Square Sexploitation/Porn Noir

"Good Girls go to heaven Bad Girls go to Tiffany's"


Again here is another example of the above quote. 

Visually, stylistically, and story-wise to varying degrees, without the Motion Picture Production Code guardrails, Film Noir diffused into all genres. Independent produc
tions that combined a Film Noir style with the ever looser restraints in the industry brought along the advent of the Exploitation films. These films exploited current trends, niche genres, and lurid content. They were the mainstay of the Grindhouse theaters

I first watched this Neo Noir Drama from 1973 streaming on Amazon Prime. It would be labeled "soft core" or "R" today.  Back then it would have been labeled Sexploitation. The version I first saw streaming was in a 1.85 : 1 aspect ratio and 78 minutes long. The original was 87 minutes so both would fit in the old Classic Noir "B" film length range. The 87 minute length probably shows, oh my god some real "sex." But you can see in the cut version the Noir Style of the film.

Warning the following review has some adult NSFW content.

Being curious and not prudish, I have since watched the directors 87 minute 1.33:1 cut and can confirm that it does show some brief sequences of penetration but its quite tastefully done, its just a tad over the line for an R rated film. In other words the director used restraint and good judgement. If it shocks and pisses off the puritans and prudes on one side, and gets bashed for being boring and not showing 99% of the old in and out in its various configurations on the other, you know the director hit the middle ground. It's real art in a film that has a bit of explicit sex.

Fleshpot On 42nd Street was restored from a 16mm original camera reversal using sound mix elements using original audio where available and sections of a 35mm release print. There is a new Blu ray available.

It would make a good double bill with Midnight Cowboy. Or fit in a triple bill with Taxi Driver as the other book end. It captures a slice of life and a time and place that no longer exist except in the minds of those that were there (myself included) and in films like this.

It's an archival treasure of Times Square. It's also a small open window of when anything was possible that eventually got closed down by various forces. A window on freedom and creativity with no boundaries in solid dramatic films that flirted with pornography.

The film comes out of a world where a lot of dynamics were intermingling. It was at the end of the old Motion Picture Production Code, it was a time when obscenity laws were being redefined, it was a time when Nuclear annihilation was immanentized. It was a time you could find your ass in Vietnam. It was the time of the high priests of Pop Art, Peter Max and Andy Warhol.

It was the end of the soft core Sexploitation Film and the beginnings of XXX Hardcore Sexploitation Pornography.  Of what was called "Porno Chic." It was also the time of the rise of low budget Gore/Horror movies. It was a time of off off Broadway experimental theater along side legitimate theater and TV dramas and Soaps. There were still taxi dance joints next to arcades, with Topless GoGo bars and adult bookstores with Live Nude Girl Peep Shows. It was the beginnings of the Sexual Revolution.  Fleshpot on 42nd Street is the creative ephemera of an era when pop culture pushed the envelope.

Ground zero was about one square mile around Times Square Manhattan circa 1969+. The creators of this film commingled with all of the above. It was sort of an anti Hollywood, call it a New York City based  Noir-lywood.

Our star Laura Cannon (born Janet Lynn Channin in Illinois and attended high school in La Jolla California, graduating in 1965) went on to New York City to attend the NYU Tisch Graduate Acting School, graduating in 1971. She worked in off Broadway theater, summer stock, but also did some cheesecake posing for Shelley Karpel.

Laura who plays Dusty Cole is a damn good actress. Not some bimbo off the streets, or some strung out junkie, that, would become the popular opinion of what some politicos would later cook up as the "moral majority." It's just that sophomoric attitude and nervously immature notions and or uncomfortable reactions to what is a natural act.

Fleshpot on 42nd Street is about a young woman who is a hustler, con artist, user/shack-up artist, petty thief, hooker, who is scratching for survival around Times Square circa 1973. How Noir of her. Most of the film is shot on location and in real houses, bars, and flop apartments.

Our Noir Femme Dusty has been shacking up with her current "sugar daddy." He comes back to his apartment from getting groceries and complains when he sees Dusty watching TV, and the apartment is not "cleaned up." 

They argue. Sugar Daddy wants her to do more that just provide him sex. Dusty thinks that sex should be enough but still promises to look for a job. They have makeup sex. Sugar Daddy cools down.

Laura Cannon as Dusty Cole with Sugar Daddy

Same ol'. Same ol' bitch,  Dusty thinks that sex should be enough but still promises to look for a job. Dusty cools things down with an offer of makeup sex.

Rheingold Beer (nice)

Sugar Daddy drained of cools down. Sugar Daddy is now post coital happy, and as he is about to leave for work, Dusty hits him up for a few bucks. As soon as Sugar Daddy leaves though,  Dusty who obviously knows the drill begins to throw all her clothes into shopping bags. She also as a bonus grabs his TV, a radio, jewelry and assorted other items.

Cleaning out her clothes

She splits the dump with her swag and heads to a Pawn Shop where she "knows" the owner hoping to hock the TV and other items for cash.

This is at the corner of Broad and Bay Streets in Staten Island NYC, (location of pawn shop on Bay ) story-wise, it's supposed to be somewhere in Manhattan.

Broad & Bay Street intersection Staten Island, New York City. - Unknown

Dusty and her bag of swag.

At the pawn shop she tells the pawnbroker that she needs $40 bucks, The owner tells her the stuff isn't worth that much. They dicker about it and the owner says he'll give her the $40 for a little nookie on the side.

$40 but with little nookie to boot.

Ok but for $55

She agrees to have sex with him but for $55. He agrees. Dusty wants the money in advance. He tells her not to look while he gets a wad of money out of a sugar jar. Dusty peeks and sees where he keeps his stash. 

Don't leave any soap on it this time...

He pays her, and then tells her that he's got to go to the john first. She instructs him to not leave soap on "it" this time. The soap must not "taste" to good. lol. (see there's still room for subtext) While he's in the john. she takes his keys out of his coat pocket. 

The pawnbroker and Dusty start to "get it on" as we used to say in the 1960s.

The shit I gotta do for cash

After the deeds are done. The owner suggest that they go nosh at the deli down the street for lunch. Dusty tells him that she's got to first make a phone call down at the corner phone booth, and that while she is doing that, he should go to the deli and pick up lunch for the both of them. He agrees locks the shop door with a padlock and takes off.  

I'll meet you back at the shop

Coast clear. Dusty doubles back to the pawnshop, unlocks the padlock on the door with his keys and goes in. She steals the money from the sugar jar and splits.

Unlocking the pawn shop door

Later Dusty next runs into Cherry a transvestite hooker she knows outside of The King Of Pizza on 42nd St., and asks him if she can crash at his place. Cherry says sure.

King of Pizza , 208 W 42nd Street, New York City

Neil Flanagan as Cherry Lane

They decide that they could team up as prostitutes and that Dusty could thus help out with the rent. When a trick stops by to see Cherry,  he spots Dusty and asks Cherry what's up. Cherry offers Dusty the trick and she agrees. The trick though likes it rough.

Paul Matthews as Jimmie rt.

He tells he to turn over

He likes hitting women, he may have mommy issues, it's a trick. When they are done he offers Dusty a job servicing him and three other guys at his weekly poker night game that he's going to throw in a few days.


Dusty tells him she doesn't "do" gang bangs, he assures her that it will be just one at a time. Dusty tells him OK then, she wants $200. He tells her that's too much. He tells her he can give her $150. Dusty agrees to that but tells him she'll only stay at the game then an hour and a half. 

Later, Dusty walking around Times Square and spots a friend. She runs up to him and they talk they take off down the street to the lounge. 

Here we get another candid tour of long gone store fronts of Times Square in the b.g as Dusty and her friend stroll along.  

Van Dyck Seafood, Steaks, and Chops - 733 8th Ave corner of 46th Street, Manhattan. 

Cherry and other hookers. While there shooting the breeze, she spots a cute guy named Bob sitting at the bar who really attracts her. She goes over to pick him up.

Dusty and the  Simmons Sisters

Bob (Harry Reems) and Dusty

Bob and Dusty hit it off. It's love at first site. He asks her to go home with him to Staten Island. She agrees. and they take a cab to the ferry at the tip of Manhattan. Here, during Bob and Dusty's cab ride sequence , we get more 1960s Manhattan on  Broadway heading South, caught in glimpses out through the rearview window. 

Dave’s Luncheonette,  SE corner of Canal Street and Broadway over Dusty's shoulder.

Andy should have shot some footage on the Staten Island Ferry, If I got to criticize anything it would be this. It would have been a nice juxtaposition New York harbor and the claustrophobic, shops, lounges, and flop apartments.  As is, we jump from The cab to outside Bobs place at 149 Corson Ave. Staten Island. In real time it's about a 20 minute walk to the ferry terminal. 

149 Corson Ave. Staten Island

Bob gives Dusty a tour of his home. They begin to make out. Dusty drops to her knees and begins undoing Bob's belt. How Noir of her? Just like she is servicing a trick.

Bob stops her and suggests that they go upstairs to his bedroom. Bob is showing some class and being a bit more civilized than Dusty's usual low rent clientele. 

They eventually make love. The director shows quite a bit of restraint and believe it or not it's quite tastefully shot in a very noir-ish style.

Sex Noir Style

Oh my god a penis... How Noir is that?

Post coital bliss

Dusty and Bob really fit well together. Bob tells her that he's a lawyer. She tells him that she's a hustler. Bob tells her we're all hustlers. He trusts her enough to give her the keys to his house.

We're all hustlers

Dusty thinks she's actually falling in love with this guy. She calls Cherry with the news from Bob's house. 

Fleshpot on 42nd Street is in color but is stylistically visually noir and just when you just think our heroine sees a light at the far end of the tunnel when she finally gets there it's a road flare in Noirsville.


This film is a masterpiece and I just don't mean of Sexploitation. The cut version I first watched would be labeled NC-17 the full version is a soft X.

Anyway it's a film that should be more known by a director, Andy Milligan, who got stuck in Grindhouse oblivion.

I urge any of you who think all Grindhouse/Sexploitation films are crap with lousy acting, direction, cinematography, story, etc., etc., go to Amazon Prime pay with your credit card the $1.99 fee, and watch the R/NC-17 streaming version of his film that is available. You may not like or approve the subject matter of it but it will be an eye opener to the amount of quality that was achieved on a low budget. Bravo Andy Milligan. Vinegar Syndrome has a restored Blu ray.

Laura Cannon's credentials as a legitimate actress will become immediately apparent as soon as she appears on screen. She very believable, there is conviction in her performance and a naturalness in a role that would make quite a few of today's actresses balk or ask for a body double. Laura a real struggling actress who resorted to porn films to be in show biz and hustle a living in NYC obviously informs her melancholic performance.

Laura while still a grad student at NYU answered an ad for modeling and began working for Shelley Karpel an old-school type of cheesecake photographer in the same vein as Irving and Paula Klaw (Bettie Page Bondage) were 12-15 years earlier. 

Karpel had contacts with some cheap New York nudie pulp magazines like Rascal and Frolic, and he’d sell them spreads of Laura. She even made the cover of Frolic.

She got an offer from Leonard Kirtman on weekends in 1970 for $50 a day making porn loops in probably the notorious 14th Street studio, with catchy titles like The Bed Spread (1969), Catch 69 (1970), Lip Service (1970), School of Hard Knocks (1970), Secretaries Spread (1970), Wall Street Walker (1970), Love Thy Neighbor (1970), Exchange Student (1970), Use the Back Door (1971), Vice Versa! (1971), and Pay the Baby Sitter (1971).

"She made around 30 films and loops, and worked for notable directors like Joe Sarno (The Young, Erotic Fanny Hill (1971)), Gerard Damiano (The Magical Ring (1971)), and Leonard Kirtman." (Rialto Report)

Laura was also featured as the first porn actress ever to get a centerfold photo spread in Playboy.

Playboy Spread

Besides Laura Cannon, the major players in the cast are Harry Reems (famous for Deep Throat) and Neil Flanagan who I've never heard of before. They both can also act BTW. Laura Cannon quit the adult film biz in 1974 while Reems lasted until the 1980s.

More about Laura Cannon here in The Rialto Report

Written, Directed, and Filmed by Andy Milligan. It's a sort of gritty, Noir, melancholy, Pretty Woman. 9/10