Now here's a Golden Age adult movie I really wanted to like a whole lot more than I did. It was made by Roberta Findlay who, along with Ann Perry (SWEET SAVAGE) and Joanne Williams (LITTLE GIRLS BLUE), made up the triumvirate of female porno filmmakers of note of that era. With a solid background in sexploitation (the notorious FLESH trilogy she instigated with her late husband Michael) and cheesy horror (BLOOD SISTERS), she proved the most prolific of the lot, also frequently on hand to shoot other people's stuff such as Chuck Vincent's artsy VISIONS under the "Anna Riva" pseudonym. A couple of her flicks have become carnal classics over time, like the darkly ironic ANGEL NUMBER 9 with Darby Lloyd Rains as the female incarnation/punishment of vile womanizer Alan Marlow and the naughty noir THE TIFFANY MINX with underrated Crystal Sync in a career performance as the imperiled heiress. Those films combined cleverly thought-out story lines with the kind of sex scenes that put up a pup tent in your pants while still revealing that much-ballyhooed "feminine touch", meaning mostly that the characters interacted like proper human beings during intercourse with complicit communication and even occasional bouts of laughter. Even Findlay's lesser works, to which category THE PLAYGIRL unfortunately belongs, tend to have their moments. Back in the early '80s, when this flick initially hit theaters, it was heavily pushed towards the female contingent of the adult viewing audience as being "their kind of film", i.e. porn made by a woman about a strong and assertive woman. Several publications at the time praised it through the roof (Screw selected it as the best movie of 1982), cementing its reputation until Candida Royalle – who has a tiny bit part here – showed the industry how to do this whole chick f*ck flick thing right.
Luscious Laura (legendary Veronica Hart in an uncharacteristically hesitant performance), pampered spouse to publishing tycoon Carl Bond (stalwart Ashley Moore), has more time and money on her hands than she knows what to do with. A self-proclaimed patron to the arts, her MO consists of "discovering" fresh, new talent in whatever artistic field as long as the possessor of said talent is male, young and in desperate need of the type of nurturing Laura's checkbook and genitalia can provide. Long-suffering Paula (a scene-stealing turn from the always watchable Samantha Fox), a lowly secretary at Bond's editing firm, sums it up best when she describes her as being "a rich bitch with a Pygmalion complex". These words of wisdom are spoken to her smitten co-worker David Fuller (character actor supreme Robert Bolla), a proof reader with dreams of penning the Great American Novel as a means of making it to Laura's bedroom. Naturally, he doesn't listen. As Laura's breaking hearts left, right and center, Dave slips her the manuscript. Assuming she has stumbled upon the next Hemingway, the lady makes her move, preparing him for her special brand of "love with all the trimmings" (thanks to Babs Streisand for this obscure ON A CLEAR DAY reference) by offering his services to fellow sex-starved society sirens such as Merle Michaels and Tiffany Clark. With all this exhausting game-playing going on, true love would surely come as a major inconvenience, but that is just what happens when Laura realizes she feels more for Dave than she thought herself capable of, leading to a showdown over after dinner drinks (how sophisticated !) with cuckolded Carl.
As far as I'm concerned, this movie shoots itself in the foot right away by placing its focus on such an unlikable, self-centered character as Laura. Findlay probably believed she was presenting us with an independent woman who made her own choices without apologizing to anyone. Instead, we get a spoiled brat sponging of her wealthy husband and making a mockery out of the feelings of men foolish enough to fall for her. Even the usually dependable Hart, though an actress of innate warmth (just check out Gary Graver's AMANDA BY NIGHT or Chuck Vincent's ROOMMATES if you want to catch her at her best), can inject little sympathy into this shallow, inconsistently written part. Ironically then, for such a female-oriented project, that the best moments all belong to the David Fuller character as portrayed by the brilliant Bolla, right up to the sly comeuppance provided by the film's final line. Sexually, he was always a good match for Hart – with many pairings proving the point – so their ultimate coupling here actually supplies something of a climax. A good thing too, since the rest of the sex remains disparagingly lukewarm, a really hot number with Bolla and the frequently underestimated Merle Michaels (Linda Vale's hilariously dim daughter in Ron Sullivan's first-rate A GIRL'S BEST FRIEND) notwithstanding. For the sake of identification, the late Bobby Astyr is seriously miscast as ridiculous rock star Nick Ray, crossover gay porn superstar George Payne (Francis Ellie's KISS TODAY GOODBYE) plays painter Victor and an overly made-up Sharon Kane is his alcohol-fueled one night stand. The latter scene throws up the kind of corner-cutting detail that drives me up the wall, especially in a movie that otherwise wears its budget on its sleeve in terms of lighting, photography, etc. Prior to getting down with Sharon, George takes the picture he made of Laura (a poorly painted by numbers replica of Hart's publicity shot for AMANDA by the way) down from the wall, revealing it to be stuck to a piece of cardboard, and re-attach-es it face down by putting a pin right through it ! What kind of cheap-jack gallery is this anyway ?