Saturday, March 12, 2011

Salon Kitty (1976)

Director: Tinto Brass

Starring: Helmut Berger, Ingrid Thulin, Teresa Ann Savoy, John Steiner, Sara Sperati, John Ireland

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Playground for the wildest fantasies of the SS.

Plot: Kitty runs a brothel in Nazi Germany where the soldiers come to "relax". Recording devices have been installed in each room by a power hungry army official who plans to use the information to blackmail Hitler and gain power himself. A girl named Margherita discovers the little ploy and with Kitty's help plans to take on the dangerous task of exposing the conspiracy.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Boy, some of that plot sure sounds familiar. But really, what else is left to do with the Nazisploitation genre at this point? 1977 was the banner year with 11 films (that I'm aware of). SALON KITTY is only the 10th since 1969 and we're only a third through what the genre has to offer. Oh, this is going to be a long road to the end.

SALON KITTY was one of the few I was actually looking forward to as it's directed by a guy who has an eye for beauty and cinema (give me some leeway, will ya?) and it's got art direction by Ken "I did nearly all of the Bond films in the 60s & 70s" Adam! Sadly, it ended up being something like ILSA-lite meets CABARET (1972).

This is a great looking film and there is A SHIT TON OF NUDITY, which is all fine & dandy but it's also two and a quarter hours long. That's much too much for an exploitation flick. There's plenty of sploitation to go around, the story is good, the acting is pretty good, the music mostly works, the camerawork is gorgeous, and so on and so on.

This could almost be classified as an example of style over substance but it's got a good story and everyone seems to be giving it a good go. It's just a case of too much. There really is a good movie in here somewhere but while it's trying to be a sleazy exploitation picture, it's also trying to be a good piece of artistic cinema. By bringing those two worlds together, and in such a long movie, each part detracts from the other. There's an overload of nakedness and debauchery for a drama yet there's too much drama and music interludes that interrupt the sleaze.

And when it comes to sleaze, SALON KITTY doesn't offer much more than loads of nudity, male and female. And it's all done somewhat tastefully which makes it more...I don't know...easy sleaze. There's a world of difference between this picture and ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE SS (1974). Both have an uncanny amount of nudity but ILSA knows what it wants to be - KITTY hasn't quite made up its mind.

Chop this sum bitch down to a respectable run time like 95 minutes or so and you'd have yourself a nice piece of fun and quickly paced exploitation. Oh, how I wanted to like this one. I thought it could've been the genre's masterpiece. Nope. ILSA, SHE WOLF OF THE SS (1974) still wears that crown. Maybe the next one...SS GIRLS (1977).

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