Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Private Parts (1972) on the Cusp Neo Noir

"A most bizarre voyage into the psycho sexual!"

Mystery/Horror/Black Comedy/Fantasy. Part Psycho, part David Lynch, part John Waters a dash of The Coen Brothers a pinch of Tom Waits, the film is a Noir, Thriller, Horror, Suspense, using alienated and obsessed characters and adding Noir type twists. It's got enough noir stylistic visuals to just tip Noir for me. Private Parts is on the cusp of Neo Noir.

Michael J. Weldon lists it in his Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film. The general definition of Psychotronic is a film genre comprised of science fiction, fantasy and horror films. Psychotronic Films aren't merely genre fare though, they are films that think outside the box, ones that try to break the mold. Films that are daring enough to be different.

Private Parts was directed by Paul Bartel who puts his own bizarre Noir/Horror spin on Exploitation, is a fun flick.

Directed by Paul Bartel. Written by Philip Kearney, Les Rendelstein, and an uncredited Paul Bartel.
Cinematography by Andrew Davis and Music by Hugo Friedhofer

Ayn Ruymen as Cheryl Stratton.

Lucille Benson as Aunt Martha Atwood 

Ann Gibbs as Judy

John Ventantonio as George Atwood 

Patrick Strong as Artie

Laurie Main as Reverend Moon

Dorothy Neumann as Mrs. Quigley
The film stars Ayn Ruymen as Cheryl Stratton. Lucille Benson (The Fugitive Kind (1960), Slaughterhouse-Five (1972)) as her Aunt Martha Atwood owner of The King Edward Hotel, John Ventantonio as George Atwood "The Photographer." Laurie Main as Reverend Moon, Stanley Livingston ("Chip" Douglas, the third son of Steve Douglas on the television series My Three Sons) as Jeff. Noir vet Dorothy Neumann (High Wall (1947), Sorry, Wrong Number (1948), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), The Glass Wall (1953), Sudden Danger (1955)) as Mrs. Quigley, Ann Gibbs as Judy, Patrick Strong as Artie, Len Travis as Mike, and the King Edward Hotel  on "The Nickel" at 121 E. 5th St, Los Angeles.

Cheryl Stratton ran away from home in Ohio with her best friend Judy Adams. They made to Venice Beach California where Judy, being the more sexually active one, soon is shacked up with a beach bum. They are both living in his house. Cheryl sexually curious, peeps on the Judy's lovemaking. Judy catches her and tells her to get out.

Cheryl spying on Judy

Get out!

Cheryl packs up her stuff and heads to her weird Aunt Martha's skid row hotel The King Edward on "The Nickel." Martha is priggish and a bit of a bluenose. Her hobby is attending funerals with a camera. There she tries to capture "the moment when the soul leaves the body."

The Hotel has a few other seedy odd eccentrics. George is a shy peeping tom photographer, who sleeps with an inflatable doll. The Reverend Moon is another wing nut who's personal brand of religion mixes Christianity with S&M and Muscle Magazine iconography. The mad Mrs. Quigley is the former owner of the hotel.

Aunt Martha lets Cheryl stay in her daughter Alice's old room. Alice is nowhere to be found. She was a model and supposedly left a while ago for better things. Mrs Quidley with wild frizzed out hair mistakens Cheryl for Alice

Cheryl helps her Aunt Martha do the housecleaning duties. However certain rooms Aunt Martha declares off limits to Cheryl.

Cheryls budding libido drives her to an obsession with the dark and secretive George. George is equally obsessed with Cheryl. He leaves her gifts of sexy underwear.  An empty storeroom between Cheryl's room and the hotels shared bath provides the vantage point for George to peep upon Cheryl.

When Aunt Martha leaves to attend a funeral or go grocery shopping Cheryl takes the set of passkeys and begins to snoop around. When she enters the storeroom she discovers Georges peepholes

snooping Cheryl

The S&M Jesus in REverend Moon's room

Cheryl discovers George's peephole

When Cheryl enters the storeroom she discovers Georges peepholes. Instead of becoming upset Cheryl becomes an exhibitionish setting events spiralling into Noirsville.


Beach bum 

 the graphic title sequence

 the graphic title sequence

George's Studio

 the graphic title sequence

The Reverend Moon's beefcake photo collection

George's blow up girlfriend

George's peephole

Reverend Moon's beefcake playing cards

 the graphic title sequence

Whitey Aunt Martha's pet rat

Stanley Livingston (Chip Douglas) right front

Main Street Los Angeles with Dreamland Dancing and the Burbank Theater in the background

posing for George

I've been a fan of Lucille Benson and her distinct voice ever since I saw her in The Fugitive Kind (1960) and later as Michael J. Pollard's Mother Fauss in Little Fauss and Big Halsy (1970).  Ayn Ruymen was a surprise, she was impressive as a young woman on the verge of womanhood. It was also fun seeing Stanley Livingston from My Three Sons also.

A bit over the top in spots but fun with a Noir/Horror/Thriller vibe available on Prime Video 7/10

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