"FILM NOIR HAD AN INEVITABLE TRAJECTORY…
THE ECCENTRIC & OFTEN GUTSY STYLE OF FILM NOIR HAD NO WHERE ELSE TO GO… BUT TO REACH FOR EVEN MORE OFF-BEAT, DEVIANT– ENDLESSLY RISKY & TABOO ORIENTED SET OF NARRATIVES FOUND IN THE SUBVERSIVE AND EXPLOITATIVE CULT FILMS OF THE MID TO LATE 50s through the 60s and into the early 70s!" The Last Drive In (thelastdrivein.com)
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 productions 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.
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. 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 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.
|Horn & Hardart Automat on Broadway|
|The Deuce - 42nd Street|
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 "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 a New York City based Noirlywood.
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 that sophomoric attitude and nervously immature notions and or uncomfortable reactions to 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. How Noir of her. Most of the film is shot on location and in real houses and flop apartments.
|Laura Cannon as Dusty Cole with Sugar Daddy|
|Notice the Rheingold Beer Beer Can|
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 Dusty begins to throw all her clothes in shopping bags. She also as a bonus grabs his TV a radio and other items.
|Stuffing her clothes in shopping bags|
|grabbing the TV|
At the pawn shop she tells the owner 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.
|Ok but for $55|
After the deeds are done. The owner suggest that they go nosh at the deli for lunch. Dusty tells him that she's got to make a phone call down at the phone booth, and that while she is doing so he should go to the deli and pick up lunch for the both of them. He agrees locks the shop door and takes off.
Dusty next runs into Cherry a transvestite hooker she knows and asks him if she can crash at his place.
|Cherry (Neil Flanagan)|
|He tells he to turn over|
|He gets hard hitting women with his belt|
When they are done he offers Dusty a job servicing him and three other guys at a weekly poker game that he's going to throw in a few days.
Dusty tells him she doesn't do gang bangs, he he assures her that it will be one at a time. Dusty tells him she wants $200 he tells her that's too much. He tells her he can give her $150 she agrees but tells him she'll only stay then an hour and a half.
Later at a bar she meets up with Cherry and other hookers. While there she spots a cute guy Bob sitting at the bar who attracts her. She goes over to pick him up.
|Dusty and the Simmons Sisters|
|Bob (Harry Reems) and Dusty|
They 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.
|Oh my god a penis....|
Dusty thinks she's falling in love. 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 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 were 12-15 years earlier. Karpel had contacts with some cheap New York nudie magazines like Rascal and Frolic, and he’d sell them spreads of Laura. She made the cover of Frolic.
She got an offer from Leonard Kirtman on weekends in 1970 for $50 a day making porn loops with catchy titles 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 in Playboy/
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.
It's a sort of gritty, Noir, melancholy, Pretty Woman. 9/10