Color, 1974, 81 mins. 56 secs.
Directed by Tom Scheuer
Starring Colleen Brennan, Daniel Kauffman, Keith McConnell, Vic Caesar, Angela Carnon
THOSE MAD MAD MOVIE MAKERS
Color, 1974, 91 mins. 32 secs.
Directed by Ray Marsh
Starring Frank Calcanini, Michael Pataki, Mike Kellin, Tom Signorelli, Marianna Hill, Jo Anne Meredith, Robyn Hilton
Code Red (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD) / WS (1.78:1 / 1.66:1) (16:9)
A giddy 1974 T&A comedy, Alice Goodbody is one of the strongest vehicles for redheaded softcore goddess Sharon Kelly, a name familiar to many Something Weird devotees thanks to her indelible roles in The Dirty Mind of Young Sally and Sassy Sue before she eventually jumped into hardcore in the early '80s (as Colleen Brennan). Sharon's in fine form here as the title character, a wide-eyed Hollywood diner waitress whose dreams of stardom seem to come true when she hooks up with production manager Myron Mittleman (Daniel Kaufman, a pretty good comedian who apparently never worked after this). Unfortunately her presence as an extra in a rock musical based on the life of Julius Caesar (the mock Andrew Lloyd Weber production numbers are easily the film's highlights) seems jinxed due to her constant string of injuries during the production. However, she always bounces back at Myron's urging by bedding a number of increasingly fat, smarmy men to get a bigger role before realizing all this time on her back might not be worth it.
The Tinseltown gags make this a few cuts above your average softcore comedy, somewhere in the same territory as Hollywood Boulevard but with more blatant skin. Apart from a pretty nauseating scene in which Kelly slurps food off of George "Buck" Flower's rotund body, this is goofy fun for drive-in fans with a zippy pace and much more visual scope than usual. The nudity's stronger than expected given the R rating (Kelly doesn't hold back here at all), but then again, it's all so sweet and silly that no one could really be offended.
Out of circulation for decades after its VHS release from Media, Alice Goodbody made a return on DVD in 2009 from Code Red with a DVD upgrade in 2017, both sourced from the original negative. (That's entirely skipping over the wretched, overpriced bootleg DVD job from the infamous Substance/Televista). Colors looks punchy and bright, while the element is in great shape apart from some bumpy reel changes. Extras on both formats include an audio commentary with director Tom Scheuer and producer Gary Maxwell (moderated by Lee Christian), which humorously covers everything from navigating the nudity pitfalls of the MPAA to secretly snagging shots of Sharon strutting down Hollywood Boulevard for the opening credits, an alternate title sequence as Gosh!, and the original trailer. The DVD tacks on some self-titled "Crappy Code Red Trailers" (which turns out to be true in the case of the nonsensical The Statue, but Group Marriage, Lonely Wives, and Teenage Graffiti are certainly worthy of attention), while the Blu-ray has trailers for The Black Gestapo, Trapped, Dune Warriors, and Wheels of Fire.
Sharing space on the Blu-ray only is a film entitled Mad Movie Makers on the packaging and Mad Mad Moviemakers on the print but with a menu screen bearing its more commonly known name on VHS, The Last Porno Flick. That title's more than a tad misleading as this is really a silly PG-rated comedy designed to cash in on the porno chic craze without actually showing any content that might endanger a family-friendly rating. (To add to the confusion, this was also released as The Cabbies and Those Mad, Mad Moviemakers.) Exactly who this film was made for is something of a mystery, as it's shot like a sitcom with an emphasis on medium shots and sets blasted with as much lighting coverage as possible to keep each scene quick and cheap to shoot. The portrayal of the adult film industry wouldn't even raise an eyebrow on an episode of Love, American Style, and though it plays like a comedy, there's a weird lack of actual funny dialogue or situations apart from an avalanche of instantly dated Italian-American stereotypes. It also doesn't feel like the editor ever finished with the film; it runs at least ten minutes too long with several scenes (including a climactic wedding) holding on shots for an eternity for no good reason.
That's not to say it's a total loss; the gorgeous Robyn Hilton (who had caught a lot of eyes with a brief bit in Blazing Saddles and went on to Doc Savage, Man on Bronze and Malibu Express) is fun to watch and pretty amusing as aspiring actress Linda Loveman, who gets the lead role in a porno movie bankrolled by frustrated cabbies Tony (Calcanini) and Ziggy (Grave of the Vampire's Pataki) when they see a trade headline about the massive financial success of Deep Throat. They decide to raise funds from the devout Catholic women in their family, under the pretense of funding a deeply religious film. Confusion mounts when the black-clad financiers learn about the production entitled The Temptations of Synthia, which prompts the guys to launch into an impromptu, bilingual defense of the story as a saga about a young woman's fight against sinful pressure from the devil. Mike Kellen (Sleepaway Camp) also turns up as the unlikely "greatest acting coach in the country," with Tom Signorelli (Alice, Sweet Alice) and Marianna Hill (Messiah of Evil) mostly thrown away in straight roles that mostly require them to sit around and act a little bit wacky. The '70s soft pop soundtrack is kind of nice, and despite the aforementioned slack editing, the somewhat sweet plot resolution is a little unexpected.
A throwaway film if there ever was one, Mad Movie Makers was produced and released by Bryanston and later released on VHS by Abacus Entertainment as The Last Porno Flick (with a very prominent "Rated PG" on the cover over a scantily clad woman to really send out mixed messages). The film was included as a cheapie entry in BCI/Eclipse's "The Sins of Showbiz" four-film set with Baby Cat, Bottoms Up, and The Swinging Stewardesses, while the Blu-ray sports a new HD scan from... something in the Bryanston vaults; it looks a couple of generations lower than Alice, though still better than the versions we've had out before; the framing and detail levels look satisfactory if you're not expecting demo material. Both films on the Blu-ray sport DTS-HD MA English mono tracks that do about as good a job as possible given the very modest nature of the original sources.
Reviewed on June 3, 2017.