A Girl’s Best Friend (1981)

A Girl's Best Friend

A Girl’s Best Friend (1981)

Like some of Chuck Vincent’s best movies (Misbehavin’ and Games Women Play in particular) and his own Devil in Miss Jones Part 2, this delightful Ron Sullivan (a/k/a “Henri Pachard”) comedy classic represents a reasonable approximation of the sophisticated wit Radley Metzger brought to his legendary The Opening of Misty Beethoven. A knowledgeable fan of vintage Hollywood cinema, Sullivan has always sprinkled sly cinematic references throughout his adult work, referencing both the champagne-doused universe of Ernst Lubitsch and the more laid-back efforts of Alfred Hitchcock (To Catch a Thief and Family Plot) on this particularly joyous occasion. But of course, the director would have been the first to admit that this is just icing, or an excuse for a self-styled “critic” (as in “those who can’t…”) like myself to flex his cultural baggage for the masses. The real meat – so to speak – of any adult film lies in its sexual content and this aspect definitely does not disappoint, presented by Sullivan with his customary style and a good oldfashioned dirty mind. The latter is what truly differentiates this movie from other elaborately plotted and lavishly produced porno flicks like Tim McDonald’s big but bland Lust on the Orient X-Press where routine sex was overwhelmed by all the trimmings (unnecessarily convoluted storyline, impeccable period sets and costumes, etc.) that are ultimately of little value to the genre at hand if the sex ain’t up to snuff.

With a cast list that reads like a virtual Who’s Who of early ’80s bonkbusters, Sullivan relates the trials and tribulations of international jewel thieves Mrs. Lautrec (Juliet Anderson, Swedish Erotica’s indelible Aunt Peg, who has never looked more elegantly exquisite, courtesy of Larry Revene’s fabulous cinematography) and her son Paul, played by an amazingly svelte and honestly goodlooking Ron Jeremy. Their singleminded quest for the elusive Fairchild diamond takes them from Paris and the pleasantly perverted Count (the ever reliable Robert Kerman a/k/a “R. Bolla” in grand form) to New York millionaire Irving Greenfield (late lamented funny man Bobby Astyr in a scintillating career highlight). Pompous Lady Loretta Coldgate (Linda Vale, Lysa Thatcher’s mom from “Cecil” Howard Winters’s Neon Nights) and her deliciously dimwitted daughter Melissa (a seriously sidesplitting turn from the magnificent Merle Michaels) are thrown into the mix as a delightful detour, their perfectly paced threesome with the prodigiously membered Jeremy among the movie’s most memorable moments.

The plot reaches its apex at Greenfield’s annual masked ball slash orgy with all of the Lautrec’s disgruntled victims congregating for an evening of drinks and debauchery, their identities cleverly concealed from each other but obvious to viewers thanks to the beautiful masks designed by adult film character actor and Chuck Vincent mainstay Adam De Haven. Bug-eyed blonde beauty Christie Ford (“Misty Winters” in Jim “Clark” Buckley’s quintessential girlie show Debbie Does Dallas and a real surprise essaying a rare dramatic role in Gerard Damiano’s People) relents to the Count’s carnal overtures as mother and son eagerly try to make their way to the safe housing the coveted Fairchild gem, beaten to the punch at the eleventh hour by bumbling maid cum cat burglar Charlotte, none other than the adult industry’s single most radiant female presence on both sides of the camera Veronica Hart née Jane Hamilton.  To keep up the charade, mother and son have to indulge in a spot of incest so as not to blow their cover !

Other performers along the way the occasional fuck flick viewer may need a little help identifying. Jody Maxwell plays Jeremy’s self-appointed “whore” in the early and really erotic hotel room sequence. Her gimmick as the “humming fellatrix” in Buckley’s grab bag S.O.S. (Screw On Screen) effectively overshadowed her considerable thespian prowess for many years. She did some of her best work for Damiano, appearing at both the beginning (Portrait, an awesome achievement awaiting rediscovery) and tail end (The Satisfiers of Alpha Blue) of her career. Veri Knotty’s main claim proved an even more salacious party trick, directly related to her chosen moniker : she was able to tie her labia into a knot ! Thankfully, she does nothing of the sort here – she did in Vincent’s otherwise tasteful This Lady is a Tramp of you really must bear witness – playing Greenfield’s casually servile secretary. Her finest hour may have come as the Prohibition-flaunting moonshiner Maxine in Larry Revene’s excellent Sizzle. Dave Ruby’s the guy Juliet picks up in the disco and I always felt he would’ve made a great Al Bundy in a porn version of TV’s Married With Children. He was genuinely heartbreaking as the barhopping pump jockey in Sullivan’s underrated Nasty Girls. Superstar Samantha Fox of course appears as the elegant lady in red, exchanging white-gloved manual favors for illgotten jewelry.

With smart use of exotic location stock shots and a relentlessly groovy disco soundtrack, this is pure undiluted Golden Age porno as it exists in most people’s memories. Sullivan has concocted a really wellmade movie as well, intricately intercutting various sex scenes with breezy plot exposition in a way that’s sure to freak out the raincoaters. For novices, this also makes it a perfect place to start. Delving into personal memory, this was the first adult film I ever rented on VHS after several years of sneaking into adult theaters, way back when I was 17 and trust me, it was a very good year. I actually watched it with my mom, which is kind of appropriate in a really strange way considering the flick’s central relationship !  Thank God, we were never as close as the Lautrecs ! She would go on to enjoy the occasional dirty movie with her beloved deviate of a son over time, teaching me to pay attention to a myriad of telltale touches attesting to female enjoyment rather than staged fakery in the presented sexual performances. Regrettably, she passed away from cancer at age 75 on an unseasonably sunny February day in 2003. So in parting, I hope you’ll indulge me and allow me to dedicate this review to the woman without whom there would’ve been no Dirty Movie Devotee.  She is sadly missed to this day.

Directed by Ron Sullivan (as Henri Pachard). Written by Joel Bender. Produced by Robert Sumner for Mature Pictures Corporation. Photographed by Larry Revene. Edited by James MacReading. Starring Juliet Anderson (Mrs. Lautrec), Ron Jeremy (Paul Lautrec), Veronica Hart (Charlotte), Robert Bolla (the Count), Bobby Astyr (Irving Greenfield), Merle Michaels (Melinda Coldgate), Linda Vale (Lady Loretta Coldgate), Jody Maxwell (Paul’s Tart), Veri Knotty (Greenfield’s Secretary), Samantha Fox (Lady in Red), Dave Ruby (Man at Bar), Christie Ford (Party Girl), Kurt Mann (Bartender), Patricia Dale (Receptionist), Adam DeHaven (Party Extra), Erica Eaton & Ron Hudd (Disco Extras). Running time : 84 minutes.

By Dries Vermeulen

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