Monday, 14 March 2011

Queen of the Blues

Even by the low standards of the 1970s British sex film this is a bottom of the barrel production. Bankrolled by porn magnate David Sullivan as a star vehicle for Mary Millington, who plays the title role, it was produced and directed by Willy Roe.

It's a sixty-minute piece that’s too long to work as a short, yet is too short to be a feature.

Rather than presenting a narrative punctuated with strip and comedy routines, it's more strip and comedy routines punctuated by a narrative, one that doesn’t really develop before abruptly ending with a deus ex machina.

Basically gangster Roscoe sends two of his heavies (one played by the inimitable Milton Reid, the other by future Hi-De-Hi fixture Felix Bowness) to extort protection money from the Blues club, not realising that it is owned by another gangster (Fawlty Towers' Ballard Berkeley) who duly makes this known.

Reid and Bowness

Another subplot, invoking a ghost haunting the place, is even less developed.

We get eight or so minutes of backstage chatter and strip routines before the first couple of minutes of plot. Then we get another couple of minutes of stripping, followed by John M. East doing a Max Miller impersonation as the club’s compere, followed by Millington doing her first number, admittedly intercut with the first proper exchange between the compere and the would-be extortionists, followed by some more routines.

Can't act, can't dance, can't sing about sums it up

25 minutes have elapsed by this point and the total story content is probably about four minutes tops.

There are some points of interest nonetheless: The strip routines make the connection to the cinema of attractions clear, as do the constant cutaways to the diegetic audience (curiously the same despite the action supposedly taking place on different nights) and the Music Hall nature of East's routines (see also Come Play with Me).

East does Max Miller

The strippers' remarks backstage are also oddly at odds with the illusion of glamour: “What’s the fascination? Surely when you’ve seen one set of tits you’ve seen them all?!”

Argento fans may also care to note that Geraldine Hooper, who plays Massimo Ricci in Deep Red, is credited as the club’s receptionist.

The pressbook for the film, distributed by Tigon, describes scenes that are not actually present and, one suspects, were never filmed either.

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