Friday, June 22, 2012

Superchick (1973)

As we all know from popular mythology, stewardesses are like sexual buccaneers, sailing the skies in search of sexual conquests, with a different partner in every port. Whether or not this is true (and, oh lord, do I wish it was!), Superchick has fun with the idea. Granted, it's corny as hell, and in no hurry to get to a plot of any sort either.

The story plays as a sort of picaresque with stewardess Tara B. True (television actress Joyce Jillson), as a sort of harlot-in-disguise. By day, she dresses as a sort of frumpy stewardess. By night, she's got a different man in every city: a rich surgeon who's afraid of germs and barely touches her in New York; a beach bum playboy (Tony Young) in trouble with the mob in Miami; a teen idol pop singer (played by Timothy Wayne Brown) in Los Angeles. These are the main men in her life, but she also has a date with a friend of the pop singer that ends in a drug bust, a fling with a pervy old Hollywood actor (played with real relish by John Carradine), and does her part for America by fucking a marine in the airplane bathroom. Incidentally, she's also skilled in karate and beats up some bikers and the mobsters who want to make her a hooker.

I've noted before that brief period in the early 70s when a good-natured sort of free love was popular in the culture and exploitation filmmakers quickly realized the exploitative potential for stories about hip, swinging, sexually-promiscuous young women. The films have an appeal today, when hardcore porn is freely available, because they have a sex-positive message and actually seem to really like their female main characters. Tara, not surprisingly, gives the obligatory speech at the end extolling the virtues of a young woman living in the moment and making love to whoever she wants to; you can almost imagine the horny filmmakers chomping their cigars and panting, "right on, sister!" in the background.

It's interesting how the virtues of these movies come with time. Superchick is a goofy movie with subpar Borscht belt style jokes and really slow plotting. Nevertheless, it's also got an easy going positivity about female sexuality and a strong female lead, which aren't exactly easy to come by in our supposedly more enlightened age.