Wednesday, June 24, 2009

PENTHOUSE PLAYGIRLS (1975)


Misleadingly advertised by Hemisphere Pictures as another of the company's harmless Euro softcore imports, PENTHOUSE PLAYGIRLS is actually DIE MÄDCHENHÄNDLER / WHITE SLAVERS (1972), a vile and aggressively anti female slab of sleaze from producer Erwin C. Dietrich. Pic debuted in U.S. theaters sans an MPAA rating in December 1975, then received a swift and fraudulent makeover the following July to become CONGRESSIONAL PLAYGIRLS after Representatives Joe Waggoner (D-Louisiana) and Allan Howe (D-Utah), in two separate incidents, were arrested for soliciting undercover police officers posing as prostitutes (the co-feature, CAPITOL HILL SECRETARIES, was a re-titling of Hemisphere's still-unidentified HUMDINGER). Slapped with a well-deserved X rating when submitted to the MPAA in 1977, film accompanied ex-Hemisphere v.p. Roger Cahn to his SRC Films a year later to finish its theatrical days filling out triple bills and dusk-to-dawn shows under who knows how many other alternate titles. Print released to home video formats in 1985 (on the Private Screenings label, natch) runs 78 minutes.


Opening scene has a young lovely chloroformed in an elevator and carried off by two kidnappers (one of them is Dietrich in a cameo) working for an international white slavery ring; when we see her again she’s pulling a train in a filthy back room somewhere in Turkey. The masterminds behind this international crime organization are three hairy, paunchy, middle-aged thugs that hang out together butt-naked in a steam room, scratching their sweaty balls and hatching new plans to find “beautiful but dumb” women to peddle overseas. Their latest scheme is a Miss Bosoms Contest, which enables them to hand-pick ten knockouts from the hundreds of shapely young entrants reeled in by the promise of a trip around the world and a Hollywood screen test for the first place prizewinner. After the contest (ten topless Dietrich stock starlets on a grade-school stage, with a smarmy emcee and lots of canned applause) we follow the bad guys for the rest of the movie as they snatch "Soledad from Sweden," "Claudine from France," "Marie the cigarette girl" and others and prepare them to be shipped out to bordellos around the world. The following (badly-dubbed) exchange between two kidnappers about to fix one of the bound and nude captives with a heroin shot pretty much sums up this movie's foul attitude toward women.

First kidnapper: “Take off your belt.
Second kidnapper: “Want me to put it around her arm?”
First kidnapper: “What do you think you’re supposed to do, beat her with it?”
Second kidnapper: “Well, I wouldn’t mind…”

Adding insult to injury is the overwhelming evidence that Dietrich may actually identify with these scumbag criminals; they not only escape justice at the end, but are en route to Mexico to fill another order when "The End" appears onscreen (superimposed over a shot of an airplane taking off, probably pulled from THE SWINGIN' STEWARDESSES). Scenes of the ten giggling Miss Bosoms contestants bouncing around the brothel they're now forced to work in are either wacky outtakes from BLUTJUNGE MASSEUSEN/PIN-UP PLAYMATES (same year, same locations, most of the same cast) or Dietrich is more deranged than I ever imagined. Evidently the "beautiful but dumb" ones never seem to mind being kidnapped, dragged halfway around the globe and forced into prostitution. Wellllll, at least this place is clean! And the guys are all kooky old mama's boys and nervous closet cases! Tee-hee-hee! It could've been a lot worse for us! CUT TO: Another kidnapped young woman getting her legs pried open again and again and again by a neverending line of leering, lip-smacking Turks. Blecch!

I should've known this thing was poison when Ingrid Steeger failed to show by the 15-minute mark.


Below: Masked wrestler "Jack the Raper" in a scene from PENTHOUSE PLAYGIRLS




While we're at it, does anyone know the true identity of HUMDINGER (a.k.a. CAPITOL HILL SECRETARIES)?

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