Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Trash Classic of the Week: Double Agent 73 (1973)

I work at Ottawa's oldest single screen movie theatre, the Mayfair. Inside it's historic and regal auditorium I had the rare opportunity to see a 35mm print I purchased in an ebay auction of a 1970s sexploitation film entitled Double Agent 73. The film builds, or at least attempts to build, it's gimmick out of the fact that it's star, a buxom Polish blond named Chesty Morgan, has the measurements
73FF-32-36. Yes, this is a fact and it of course would give the sales clerk in the bra and panties department at Sears a stroke.

But I digress. Double Agent 73 is the cinematic handiwork of Doris Wishman (1912-2002) a feisty and tough talking filmmaker who pioneered the now defunct nudie cutie sub genre that flourished in the late 1950s to mid 1960s. Working within this sub genre was verboten in the eyes of puritanical censors and the moral majority at the time. But it brought in boffo box office and in the days before Deep Throat and the porno-chic craze that occurred in the early 70s, nudie cuties were all the cinematic rage. Films starring talent with pale and wrinkly boobs and bums (pubic hair was off limits) who basically had nothing much to do but play volleyball, these films were basically the pages of Playboy in motion picture form. But when hardcore porno moved in, the nudie cuties became obsolete. However, Wishman attempted to continue in the genre and alter it in her idiosyncratic and Ed Woodian fashion. Double Agent being an example.

A down and dirty, seemingly no-budget spy movie, DA73' tells the "story" of secret agent Jane Tennay (Morgan) whose vacation is interrupted James Bond style by her boss, who orders her to investigate and bring down heroin kingpin Ivan Toplar (referred to in short hand by his henchmen as Mr. T. Chuckle, chuckle.) Her boss instructs her to take pictures of vague files that contain info on the bad guys and to also shoot pics of each man she "eliminates". To achieve this objective, a camera is surgically implanted in one of her big boobs, which of course is curious since her boss could have just given her a camera that she could have used in the traditional manner, but then the film wouldn't have an inexplicably funny way of showcasing Morgan's dirty pillows.

Speaking of her titular (pun intended) mammaries, you would think that this plot device would be quite sexy and arousing, but alas, it's the opposite. Morgan's breasts conjure unwanted images of a busty elderly woman whose chest has become the cruel victim of gravity. Her tits (which get more close-ups in this film than Norma Desmond could have ever hoped for) also grossly resemble cow udders.

Highlights of this masterpiece include a car chase where the film speed is rapidly increased to try and hide the fact that the drivers aren't even close to exceeding the speed limit. A scene where Morgan's superiors run slides off of what is clearly a motion picture projector. And the (spoiler alert!) last shot where her breasts are superimposed over stock footage of a plane taking off to signify that Morgan has a new assignment just as she was about to return to her well deserved vacation. Poor Chesty.

I sincerely hope that my description of this film doesn't dissuade you from seeking it out. It's available on DVD from Something Weird Video (www.somethingweird.com) It's outright tackiness, inept direction, vacant performances, bad blocking, and editing that would give you an idea of how well Helen Keller would do cutting together film, make Double Agent 73 quite a laughably bad treat. The print that I saw on the big screen actually looked quite great. I expected a pinkish looking faded print, but instead saw something that my friend, filmmaker and Mayfair programmer Lee Gordon Demarbre remarked could be the source print for a Blu-ray release. I wonder...droopy boobs containing a spy camera in full 1080p HD glory...

The best part of the film is the wonderful opening title sequence containing great theme music that will remain etched in your brain for a long time after watching the movie. The opening credits seem to build towards a better film that what actually follows, Ala In Like Flint or The Pink Panther for that matter. But the result is something that must be seen to be believed, a truly amateurish and horrid piece of cinema. Did I mention that in the realm of cheesy 70s exploitation, it's truly something great?

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