I have heard varying stories, the most common was that the theater was having trouble keeping up with the multiplexes (which wouldn't have been the case for the initial 1970 run of "The Stewardesses,") and booked the film in order to keep afloat financially. After watching the documentary on the DVD, they were probably blown away at the business this film was doing. This little $40,000 film was paying off to the tunes of millions at the box office. America was obviously ripe for a major sex romp, look at the success of the pornographic "Deep Throat" only three years later.
It should be noted that "The Stewardesses" was a roadshow film, that came with special lettering and panels for the marquee, like the major films of the 1960s and early 1970s.
I bought the DVD because everyone I know in my age group (I was born in 1961) was a horny teenager when it played, but none of us ever got to see the film - yet we were tortured by that movie poster, the drawing of the group of beautiful women standing around in sexy poses.
As for the film, we had a screening last week and it was hilarious, not only where it's supposed to be funny, but in a few serious parts too. If I remember correctly, Susan Sontag, in her "Notes on Camp," listed watching erotica for non-erotic reasons is "camp." When you watch this movie you are in the heart of the camp beast!
The film is breezy, like Radley (aka Henry Paris) Metzger's early porn chic titles ("The Opening of Misty Beethoven," "Barbara Broadcast," and "Naked Came The Stranger,") fun for fun's sake, until the last reel. The plot is that a crew of stewardesses get off work, go out on the town and have sex with various people. The most interesting is one woman who drops acid and makes out with a lamp made out of a Grecian sculpted head - with the light bulb, harp, and cord still attached. The film is sloppy with gratuitous nudity, but there is no penetration or male nudity, which keeps it completely in the soft-core realm. Of course, keep in mind that these women aren't built like Jessie Jane; we are definitely dealing with natural, girl-next-door bodies.
We watched the black & white 3-D version, which seemed to show off the 3-D better. Highpoints are a woman's legs scissored around a man, dangling in the air and out of the television set, the famous pool game, where the pool cue comes out of the television, and a lot of mundane shots, like the pilot sitting in the cockpit, which has amazing depth.
The last reel is bothersome not only story wise, but philosophically. In order to make sure the film wouldn't be prosecuted for only appealing to prurient interests, one woman's date bums her out so much that she kills him and throws herself out the window IN 3D! This is an attempt to show that it is a serious film. It's a weird dark ending to such a "lite" affair, but realistically, it's hard not to spew your soda across the room with laughter when you see the mannequin falling toward you.
I'm reminded of a video released by Secret Key called
Trash Collection," where all three of the pointless soft-core movies
(from this same period) in the collection ended in death or even worse, death
by rape. I suppose the directors thought that made them socially redeemable,
as they had a moral; sex = death. Philosophically it bothers me that drama
is seen as something of value, while a simple sex comedy would be devoid
of value. In actuality, it take more artistic skill to write a good joke
than it does to create something dramatic.
In the documentary that comes on the disc a film professor puts it best, people either love this film or hate it. I have to side on the "love" people. My only complaint it that it's a little long, so around the 90 minute mark my eyes were so tired that the 3-D stopped working. A good chunk of my video collection was put together due to my morbid curiosity.
The 2-Disc set comes with three pairs of red/blue glasses. It features both the black & white and color 3-D versions of the film, and the black & white and color 2-D versions, plus a documentary, a short history of 3-D, a short on how the film was shot, test footage, the trailer, and deleted scenes. It's a must have for 3-D aficionados and fans of soft-core comedies.
© 2009 Wilhelm Murg