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  • Though extremely tedious, ACQUAINTANCES proved interesting to watch 43 years after it was made, since it points up the pitfalls of incompetent pornographers. While a current generation through video has become accustomed to wall-to-wall sex, both soft and hard versions, looking back circa 1973 there still existed real-live theater owners, chains and bookers, and this level of material had no place.

    ACQUAINTANCES, which on the Vinegar Syndrome DVD also displays the titles THE FLYING ACQUAINTANCES and THE SENSUOUS STEWARDESSES (both clearly afterthought monikers), is crudely slapped together scenes, many of them MOS with dumb voice-over dubbing, merely a XXX sex film without penetration or money shots, hence soft-core by default.

    Presence of Nicole Vadim, a very lovely starlet of the period, points up its deficiencies. She starred in 18 CARAT VIRGIN, a hit that played for years at drive-ins, where I saw it originally. That had a story, action and of course simulated sex, while ACQUAINTANCES is all sex.

    Picture opens mid-scene with Max Dizzy (Jamie Gillis billed as John Howard) humping blonde Sylvie (billed as Susan Curtis in the phony credits) doggy-style, with both actors crudely dubbed. Gimmick, oft-repeated, is that Gillis is a bank teller (never shown, as film takes place in bedrooms) moonlighting as a cab driver, and his female customers tend to pay him with sex, money apparently gone out of circulation already in 1972/73 when the film is set, and Bitcoins yet to be invented. He has stamina in his 100% pretend sex scenes, wearing the women out.

    There is grainy stock footage of planes and an airport to set up a trivial subplot of stewardess Darby Lloyd Rains picked up at the airport by Jamie. They bicker en route to Manhattan in his cab with all their lines crudely dubbed in to the reaction or reverse shots so no lip movements need be made or matched. Film buffs at this point must realize we're in for a bumpy ride.

    Since Jamie won't take a check, Darby pays him in sex, and again the fake sex is wearying, given that both actors were on the verge of icon status when this film was completed and "ready for release" (I don't know whether it was actually booked anywhere at arm's length) in 1973.

    Dumbest subplot involves a talkative wife who keeps changing her wigs and outfits to try (in vain) to grab the attention of her old hardhat hubby who's glued to the TV (soundtrack of gunshots and whinnying indicates he's watching a Western). Her introductory scene of hearing the neighbor stewardess at it again loudly humping is inserted way too early in the sloppy editing, before Darby arrives with Jamie, but an alternate take of same is shown later after the porn superstars have commenced faking it.

    Her tedious burlesque sketch haranguing of her husband, who only wants to be left alone and eat some chicken is unfunny in the extreme and eats up plenty of running time.

    Most of the film's exposition and transitions are literally phoned in, with the ringing telephone being the constant factor throughout. A trio of women, including Sylvie are posited as friends but are not stewardesses, giving weight to the obvious fact that the "stewardesses" tie-in was likely some lame attempt to cash in on a soft-core craze dating back to the 3-D hit of that name (and drive-in imitations).

    Buxom blonde (with lousy wig) Joy Campbell as Patricia gets perhaps the most prominent position in two lengthy sex scenes, as Gillis's wife, who thinks he's "faithful". She is sitting on the lap of a dull businessman recounting in flashback how he deflowered her (very cheap footage of them humping on a carpet on an undecorated claustrophobic studio set) while he denies everything. At one point she claims they have a common-law marriage he needs to honor, and a few seconds later is talking about her loyal husband Max (Gillis) in a completely nonsensical scene.

    Her next scene is back home with Max who appears too tired to hump her, but does anyway - after all in this assignment as a seasoned sex performer Gillis doesn't have to get it up or even show his package. Arbitrary ending of the movie ("THE END" suddenly superimposed on screen as Gillis looks quizzically at his telephone receiver) occurs after the duo is interrupted by a series of phone calls from her lovers, Jamie answering, who essentially fink on her. Pretty funny.

    Along the way there are two additional and tiresome vignettes -one of a young boy serviced by soft-core vet Rita Bennett, who enlists Vadim for help with the green kid, and Vadim's big scene humping a young French director (casting has a similar but younger type to Gillis in the role) for whom she would like to get hired for a movie alongside her friends Sylvie and Barbara.

    This sludge has "Douglas Randall" credited as director, with one Robert Steiner taking a lot of credit as producer and presenter (also listed in IMDb as director erroneously -I'm fixing that). Nostalgia for me was an opening of travelogue footage at night in Times Square/42nd St. area showing endless movie marquees hawking movies, nearly all of which (except for "Come Back Charleston Blue") I saw theatrically during the 1971 and 1972 period.

    These were real theaters, not grind-houses, none of which would conceivably have booked ACQUAINTANCES. Roster of some of the films, both double bills and first-run, include Isabel Sarli in hubby Armando Bo's "intimacies of a Prostitute", "The Godfather", "Prime Cut", "The Legend of Ni**er Charley", "Let's Scare Jessica to Death", "The Possession of Joel Delaney", Richard Franklin's "Eroticon", "The Sex Clinic", "The Coming Thing", Argento's "Cat o' Nine Tails", "Dead Alive", "The Kremlin Letter" and Johnny Cash in "A Gunfight". Those were the days.