Virgin Snow (1976)

Something of a hybrid between the happy go lucky silliness Bill Milling adopted whenever working as "Dexter Eagle" (as per spirited spy spoof Blonde Velvet and crazy cult caper Ecstasy in Blue) and his more serious thematic concerns as "Philip Drexler Jr.", Virgin Snow shapes up as an accurately observed social sketch of the shifting dynamics within a small circle of comfortably middle class friends akin to much of Joe Sarno's '70s output like Sleepy Head and Confessions of a Young American Housewife.  Although its ostensible premise appears to be college graduate Virginia's troubled quest for orgasm, the story takes a much more compelling turn once the action moves to Eagle Mountain ski lodge, with the introduction of Sally's slutty sister Marilyn as intimate interloper.

Framing the drama, which unfolds in flashback, is the potentially awkward situation wherein the charmingly neurotic Virginia (another feather in the cap for unsung Jenny Baxter, best remembered as Gloria Leonard's hick cousin from Radley Metzger's Maraschino Cherry) has been unwittingly set up on a blind date with her college professor Victor Ashton (Eric Edwards, smooth to the point of mellifluous) by wellmeaning best friends Sally and Clint.  Since they apparently already informed him of her precarious sexual track record, Virginia figures she might as well tell the whole story, especially since the snow-strewn scapes of Brooklyn Heights (when she comments on its loveliness, Victor quips "it even covers up the garbage") precludes their going out anyway.  A montage of male inadequacy fills in the blanks as Virginia takes to the sheets with early spurt David (Jeff Hurst), self-possessed Lothario Peter (an almost unrecognizably youthful John Leslie) and acid-dropping Randall (David Savage sans trademark handlebar mustache), the latter most interesting from a cinematic point of view with distorting wide angle lenses and surreptitious slow motion giving a slightly drawn out feel to the characters' movements.  So far, so breezy.

One of those annoyingly happy couples, right down to completing each other's sentences while laughing at private jokes, Sally and Clint are pitch-perfectly portrayed by a pair of porn's most underrated thesps.  Diminutive diva with less than a dozen appearances to her name, frequently found doing decorative duty (on Milling's Temptations and Shaun Costello's That Lady from Rio), Hope Stockton left an indelible impression as the mentally unbalanced Kate in Sarno's superlative Slippery When Wet and projects much of that just below the surface inner turmoil here as well, often conveyed through a single telltale glance.  Roger Caine fortunately leaves behind most of the grandstanding macho bluster he intermittently employed to steal scenes from more timidly tongue-tied screen partners, effectively papering over the cracks in many a single sentence scenario with irresistible high camp bravado.  Taking it down a notch, he allows Hope to blossom which only benefits their carnal chemistry in a beautifully shot boudoir tussle, hauntingly scored with The Mamas and the Papas' Dream a Little Dream of Me !  Surely no one could disrupt this perfect union ? 

Enter Sally's "baby sister" (or "sister who's a babe" as she corrects Clint) Marilyn, played with groin-grabbing gusto by Jean Jennings in-between career performances in Armand Weston's awesome The Defiance of Good and the Mitchell Brothers' lavish Autobiography of a Flea.  Casting lookalikes Stockton and Jennings, the latter about a foot taller (making her tower over her emotionally insecure sibling), as sisters proved a stroke of genius, their subtle acting bringing out the textbook rivalry their relation requires.  A lengthy intricate sequence, taking place amidst much excellent ski footage (some of which even supplied by the performers themselves), shows Sally sneaking up on her adulterous mate and snake of a sister as they make out in the snow, with an absolutely shattering close-up of Stockton's expressive face registering betrayal, superbly set to a track from Maurice Jarre's legendary soundtrack for David Lean's epic Doctor Zhivago whose schmaltzy theme (alternately known as Somewhere My Love or Lara's Theme) serves to accompany Sally's preceding precarious ski lift blow job on hapless Henry, the lovable klutz who imagines himself a cocksmith, played with befuddled bemusement by Bob Bolla once again displaying expert comic timing.  His trip to the emergency ward at the mercy of Vanessa Del Rio's voracious Nurse Ratched (Milos Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was still rakin' 'em in across the nation) takes the film back to fever pitch zaniness with double-teaming doctors David Innis and Robert T. Fish (both from Blonde Velvet) and a nympho roommate who can't help touching herself (one shot Honey Springfield with a thick New Yawk accent), Henry's intended ravishment of which is rudely interrupted by her jealous boyfriend, played by creepy bearded Rod Dumont, cast to perfection as Satan in Zebedy Colt's mindblowing The Devil Inside Her !

Rounding out the roundelay is easy-going security officer Ben who hails from Texas, effectively excusing Sonny Landham's Southern drawl.  More meat for the orgy that - surprisingly - still doesn't ring Virginia's bells (her tearful soliloquy at scene's end providing another haunting touch), he rises above such utilitarian casting with an effortlessly charming turn.  Bearing in mind the film's framing device, it makes sense that the experienced Edwards would hold the key to unleash Baxter's backed-up sexuality, their tender tryst a pleasing capper to an itinerary far more compelling than initially appeared.  Cruel irony perhaps then that, given a rare starring role in a comfortably budgetted A list adult film away from one or two day wonders like Costello's The Travails of June or Sarno's The Honey Cup, Jenny's still upstaged by the supporting characters, all of whom more realistically drawn and plausibly motivated. 

Movie's tonal shifts from soul-searching drama to frantic farce and back again might make for strange viewing, average adult audiences perpetually kept on their toes, unsure how to respond.  Script's credited to the director and one "Kang T. Kruel" who also wrote Robert Michaels' Twilight Pink movies as well as Milling's pulp parody Blonde Goddess and can thus safely be considered responsible for the funny stuff.  His double duty as the film's composer makes one wonder just how much credence should be attached to adult film credits anyway.  Apart from the aforementioned borrowed bits, there are a number of pretty good original songs by a band called Messiah, mixing funky dance grooves with country and folk influences.  Title tune's a particular humdinger, performed live during the Silver Dollar Saloon sequence (Landham's idea of "bringing the South to the slopes") with Jennings taking to the stage and ostensibly warbling away - if she's lipsynched, you can't tell - with the band providing smooth close harmony backing vocals.

Directed by Bill Milling (as Dexter Eagle). Written by Milling and Kang T. Kruel. Produced by Milling for Snow Ball Productions. Cinematography by John Abbot. Music by Kruel and Wayne Hamberg, performed by Messiah. Edited by Morgana Robins. Starring Jenny Baxter (as Laura Hunt) (Virginia), Hope Stockton (Sally), Jean Jennings (Marilyn), Roger Caine (Clint), Eric Edwards (Victor Ashton), Robert Bolla (as Trevor Manmak) (Henry), Vanessa Del Rio (Nurse Ratched), Sonny Landham (as Bill Ashley) (Ben), Jeffrey Hurst (David), John Leslie (Peter), David Savage (Randall), Honey Springfield (Angela), David Innis (as David Burroughs) (Doctor), Robert T. Fish (Second Opinion Doctor), Rod Dumont (Angela's Boyfriend) & Messiah (Themselves). Running time : 75 minutes.

Jenny Baxter taking matters in hand in her search for pleasure