Wednesday, January 26, 2022

The Minx (1969) Exploitation Noir Misfire



Directed and Produced by Raymond Jacobs. 

Written by Raymond Jacobs and Herbert Jaffey. Must have been a vanity project. The Cinematography was by Victor Petrashevic and the Music by Don Dannemann and Tom Dawes and performed by The Cyrkle who had the top 40 hits "Red Rubber Ball" and "Turn-Down Day".

The film stars one of Classis Noirs veterans Jan Sterling (Appointment with Danger (1950), Caged (1950), Mystery Street (1950), Union Station (1950), Ace in the Hole (1951), Split Second (1952), Alaska Seas (1953), The Human Jungle (1954), Women's Prison (1954), Female on the Beach (1955), The Harder They Fall (1956), The Female Animal (1958), and Transitional Noir's The Incident 1967)), as Louise Baxter.

Jan Sterling as Louise Baxter

Robert Rodan as Henry Baxter

Robert Rodan (Adam from Dark Shadows TV Series 1966–1971) as Henry Baxter, Shirley Parker as Terry, Michael Beirne as John Lawson, Robbie Heywood as Susan, Adrienne Jalbert as Nicole, Alan Dellay as Walter Harris, Philip Faversham as Charles Brennan, Ned Cary as Benjamin Thayer and William Gleason as Sam Burke.

Keep in mind most of these independent Exploitation Films only had to play two weeks basically 24/14  at a Times Square grindhouse theater to make all their money back. These theaters ran twenty-four hours a day. You could make a living making exploitation while it lasted.  If your film was a hit with the raincoat crowd you'd make a nice bundle. You had an amazing pool of talent in New York City. New York Film School Graduates, Television, Broadway and Off Broadway actors, and wanna be actors, writers, musicians, fine art artists, stage art artists, fashion models, artist and photographer models, advertising models, dancers, strippers, live nude girls, porn stars, wait people, secretaries, beats and hippies, you name it. But the product wasn't Hollywood polished product. Instead of a movie factory with equally well trained professionals making sausage links you had a pot luck of talent that was all over the map. You may have assembled a good director, a ok script but have an unimaginative cinematographer and one good actor or actress. Or get lucky and have an OK director with a great cinematographer a good script and a decent cast that is a hit. 

These various grindhouse exploitation films were cranked out between the end of the 1950s to the invention of the VHS and, the writing on the wall, i.e. the beginning of sales of home video players by mid 1977.  Figure you had at least 20 grindhouses around Times Square. There are probably more but I didn't count them. So let just use 20 theaters and just use 10 years between 1960-1970. Each theater would say have a double bill of two films that filled up 180 minutes that's 8 showings a day for two weeks makes 112 shows.  Each theater needed a new film every two weeks. So that makes a total of 26 films per theater per year so if we go with 20 grindhouse Times Square theaters that's 520 new films a year. So that just 10 years at that pace gives us a ballpark figure of 5,200 exploitation films. 

A good rule of thumb is that only about 3% of all Hollywood film production are going to be top notch product. I've tested this on Westerns. There were roughly 3,000 Hollywood Westerns produced, with the 3% rule, you get about a hundred that are top Westerns. Just try coming up with 100 best Westerns, its not easy, even if you are a fan of them.

So if we, for Grindhouse films cut that, 3% in half because of the 50/50 nature of the quality of the talent involved, the, for our guesstimate of 5,200 Exploitation films produced, then about 78 of them should be films of note, even if we go to half of that 39 Exploitation should be decent for what they are. However we'll never know how many of these are lost and ended up in landfills or are still languishing forgotten in film vaults. 

Anyway to not keep you further in suspense this one is not that good.

The Story

Brooklyn. Waterfront. Docks. Cargo ship. A mate at the ships rail, lights up his last cig, crushes the empty pack and throws it away. Carried by a breeze it lands down on the dock. 



The drop is seen by a female artist with her canvas setup at the bow. She's a drab, four eyed hippie chick with long brunette hair, a peacoat, jeans and a red sweater. Her subject the prow of the ship, New York Harbor, and the lower Manhattan skyline.  




She's been watching for the crumpled pack and when it hits the pavement she begins to casually walk towards it. She reaches down and picks up the castaway trash. 

We cut to a bedroom. A man grabs the naked shoulder of a woman. A redhead. He wakes her up. Before they make love. He clicks the timer button on his wrist watch. He's on a schedule. 





When they are finished he gets out of bed. Flashes some beefcake ass and leaves the frame.

Robert Rodan's ass

Back to the waterfront. The hippy chick grabs her canvas folds her easel and rushes off through the Brooklyn streets towards a silver 1969 Dodge Coronet convertible. 





She opens the trunk and throws in the easel and canvas. Looks around and peels down and off, her jeans. Underneath she's wearing panty hose and tucked up under the peacoat the hem of a beige knit mini dress.



The hem she pulls down, the wig and glasses she was wearing she tosses in the trunk. She's a slinky red head with short Judy Carne Laugh-In do. She grabs a orange faux fur coat and white purse out of the trunk to complete her transformation to mod swinger.

Cut back to the bedroom. The man drops $200 on the nightstand, the woman is a hooker. He puts on his coat and splits the scene carrying a briefcase. A businessman.

Cut to the alleyway and the redhead closing the trunk. She hops in the drivers seat and looks at the contents of the cig pack two rolls of microfilm in the palm of her hand. The title "The Minx" pops up on the screen, followed by the rest of the title sequence over a juxtaposing montage of both the redhead driving and the businessman helicoptering into Manhattan.






The businessman is Henry Baxter, he hops into a chauffeured caddy limousine at the Wall Street heliport. The redhead Terry, drives up alongside a blonde waiting along the curb and hands her the microfilm.

Baxter, president of Lawton Industries is going to pull a takeover of a company called Eastern Devices, that is controlled by Benjamin Thayer. In order to do this he plans to obtain the support of two of Eastern Devices board members to vote their proxies with his.

To get that support he plans a hunting party for the board members at a lodge with hookers on the side for entertainment. John Lawson, Baxter's brother-in-law, is put in charge of the entertainment. However Lawson is in cahoots with Benjamin Thayer. Lawson hires Minx a sort of call girl service who specialize in professional corporate spying and sexual blackmail (Terry, Nicole, and Susan).

Also in the mix are Baxter's older wife Louise (Lawson) Baxter, who he married to get control of Lawson industries and a detective Sam Burke who Louise has hired to tail Baxter.

Noirsville 

























































This film just tries to do too much with too little. Jan Sterling is wasted and Robert Rodan just sucks. The rest of the cast is wooden. A great Transitional Noir that has Jan Sterling and other Classic Noir veterans to catch is The Incident (1967).

There are here and there miniscule sputters of visual style. What usually helps to make these low budget flicks interesting is their guerilla filmmaking. It endows some of these films with a neo realist style, giving the viewer archival views of a New York City that is long gone. But the Minx set in the corporate world spends too much time indoors in the wrong places. It is for the most part boring. Only for those Jan Sterling completists, fans of The Cyrkle, and any Dark Shadows fans interested in seeing Rodan's ass.  lol 5/10