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Released: Jan 27th, 2009
Running Time: 90 Min.
Director: Allan Silliphant
DVD Extras: Behind the Scenes Featurettes, Bonus Footage, Interviews, Outtakes, Trailer(s)
Cast: Others, William Basil, Michael Garrett, Donna Stanley, Paula Erikson, Janet Waas, Kathy Ferrick, Angelique de Moline, Christina Hart, Andy Roth
Critical Rating: AAA 1/2
Genre: Golden Age
See the lusty stewardesses leap from the screen onto your lap.
The Stewardesses is a bad movie. That's not just our opinion; its star, Christina Hart, deems it "appallingly bad" in an interview that appears as one of the bonus features on this new special edition DVD.
But Deep Throat is a bad movie as well, albeit a much more hardcore one. And like Deep Throat, The Stewardesses reached iconic status in the public eye because it was the first mass-marketed movie of its type to catch fire in the popular culture. This early 3-D porn feature grossed over $4 million in its initial run in 1969-70 — not bad for a movie that cost just $40,000 to make!
Hitting stores today, the new two-disc set contains three versions of the movie: One color 3-D version, one black-and-white 3-D version, and one color 2-D (flat) version. Also in the package are two pairs of anaglyph (red/blue) glasses and a promotional insert written by 3-D historian Dan Symmes, who also takes part in the discussions in the extras.
The nominal plot of the movie concerns one day in the life of several stewardesses, the pilot and passengers who arrive in Los Angeles on a fictional airline flight. Of course, the day includes plenty of softcore sex.
The film stars Hart — she went on to play the role of Manson minion Patricia Krenwinkel in the made-for-TV movie Helter Skelter — as the stew with ambition. She chats up passenger Michael Garrett, an advertising exec, and accompanies him to his hotel in hopes of landing a job in TV commercials. It's a simple trade-off — stardom for sex — so why does she look so zombie-like when she finally beds the dude? Hell, she should be elated: She's apparently the first piece of ass he's had since he was molested by his former (male) boss in the mail room at the advertising agency many years ago — but Christina's so bummed out after their bed bounce that she picks up the nearest sculpture and bashes Garrett's head in, then takes the Big Plunge from his hotel balcony — all caught in glorious three dimensions. (As director Silliman — the adult industry knows him better by his real name, Allan Silliphant — explains in one of the featurettes, this little interplay was supposed to be the "redeeming social value" that would keep the movie from getting busted for obscenity. 1969, remember?)
Along the way, there are several subplots to chew on. There's a cute blonde who drops acid and winds up making love to a bust of Julius Caesar which has been made into a lamp. There's Donna Stanley, who masturbates on her bed after finding out that her guy's too busy to come over. There's Janet Waas, who meets soldier Andy Roth on the flight, and learning that he's going to ship out for Vietnam the next day, decides to make his last night in town memorable. She's also the gal in the first sex scene, though we see mostly her feet coming out of the screen as a guy humps her in the missionary position.
Then there's the obligatory lesbian, Angelique de Moline, who uses her position as head stewardess to seduce one of her underlings, Kathy Ferrick, into the joys of girl-on-girl love. But the big scene has to be Paula Erikson riding pilot William Basil cowgirl style, which turns into a montage of different nude gals performing the same act, eventually getting back to Paula — but of course, this being 1969, no hardcore is shown.
The 3-D is of the red/blue variety, though the film was originally shown using the polarization process, according to the DVD extras. What this means in practical terms is that the film will be viewed best on a computer monitor, since our televisions are based on the NTSC broadcast system — which more than one wag has said stands for "Never Twice the Same Color" — and getting the colors right is what makes the anaglyph 3-D system work.
The color 3-D version of the movie, though, seems more an exercise in pastels as compared with the decently vibrant colors of the flat version, and the cinematographer's stereo camera work wasn't always perfect. Several shots — some close-ups of Hart's head, a bedpost and other objects near the "front" of the screen — won't "fuse" into a 3-D image, and straining to get them to do so will only create headaches. Another flaw is that some objects are cut off by the edge of the screen, destroying the 3-D effect for a few moments at a time. That said, most of the 3-D works pretty well, especially the bouncing and swaying boobs.
If nothing else, the DVD extras are worth the price of the package. They include several "lens tests" for the 3-D system, the original opening titles for the film, and a classic routine from Second City TV from the early '80s, the hilarious "Dr. Tongue's 3-D House of Stewardesses."
Bottom line: The Stewardesses is an important piece of porn history. While it isn't actually, as the package claims, "The first 3D sex film," it's certainly the most famous — and therefore eminently stockable. Just make sure your renters return the glasses with the disc!