Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tinto's brassy SALON KITTY (1976) brings some awfully naughty Nazis to Blu-ray

What in the world? Trust-Movies had heard about SALON KITTY off and on for more than three decades since its release in 1976. Riding the wave of Radley Metzger soft-core and Gerard Damiano hard-core, Italian impresario/
would-be history buff/sexcapade connoisseur Tinto Brass came up with the marketable notion of combining the sex and decadence of Visconti's The Damned (including two of its stars, Ingrid Thulin and Helmut Berger) with the based-on-fact tale of a brothel catering to important Nazi military men that simultaneously recorded their most debauched activities, while assessing the level of their fidelity to the Führer.

To this end, the brothel must be stocked with the cream of the Aryan crop -- ladies who were both gorgeous and loyal to National Socialism. In what is definitely Signore Brass' (shown at right) finest moment, the recruitment and training of these young ladies are shown to us in the kind of full-bodied (and then some!) attention-to-detail that might be described as eye-opening and shocking -- if it weren't so damned funny. Not simply full of full-frontal (and this goes for both the gals and the guys), the movie's private parts are often played with, decorated and -- in my favorite moment -- used a bulls-eye by a randy Reich marksman.

The young ladies first appear to us in military uniform (above) looking exceedingly daunting. And then, uh, out of uniform, below.

Soon they are introduced to the cream of the SS, who, when called upon to serve their country in an unusual new manner (below) are more than willing to strip --

and, as it were, engage....

Up to this point, what we've seen is simply raunchy, randy, rather silly fun.  But then our young ladies must be trained to service every possible type of desire, and at this point things take a decidedly more unusual turn.

In these short scenes, I think, the movie reaches its pinnacle and nadir simultaneously -- jolting us beyond mere titillation and turn-on into something that touches the profoundly trangressive because it combines things we don't often see, let alone think about, in the same frame.

All this takes place within the first half hour or so of the movie, and once the brothel has been set up -- Mr Berger (above, in Nazi drag) plays as the officer in charge and Ms Thulin the madam -- the film wanders into more typical  territory, with the young whore we get to know best (Teresa Ann Savoy, above, with Berger, and below) falling in love with a military man (Bekim Fehmiu, below, right) who's had second thoughts about Socialism, Nazi-style.

Did I mention that the movie offer a collection of musical numbers, too? Yes, with Ms Thulin (below) singing her heart out in English -- or perhaps she's been dubbed. Here, Brass filches from Fosse's Cabaret, but the numbers at least make for interesting filler.

Overall, Salon Kitty is an original, all right, but this is not necessarily a recommendation. A crazy combo of cunts (natural, shaved and decorated), cocks (mostly flacid, just like the storytelling, but a few at half-mast or higher) and cabaret, the movie moves too soon from stupidly bold and bizarre to simply soap opera.

For Berger fans, however, the film offers a nice surprise: Throughout the actor has been dressed to the teeth (mostly in Nazi-themed black leather) while around him clothes are coming off like crazy and bodies writhing to beat the band. Finally at the finale, the actor gets his moment in the sun (in the steam room, actually), and, yes, he's a sight to behold.

Salon Kitty is available now, for rental or purchase, on DVD and Blu-ray -- and the transfer for the latter is a damned good one: crisp, rich and bright with gorgeous colors and decent enough sound quality.  Oddly, Netflix doesn't stock the Blu-ray edition, only the DVD, so for Blu-ray, you'll have to go to GreenCine for rental, and for sale, to the film's distributor Blue Underground. (Blockbuster appears to stock the movie, and in Blu-ray, too, but when you click "Get It", you discover that you can't -- a typically annoying Blockbuster move.)

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