03rd Aug2017

‘Matinee Idol’ Blu-ray Review (Vinegar Syndrome)

by Mondo Squallido

Stars: David F. Friedman, Elmo Lavino, Kay Parker, Colleen Brennan, Herschel Savage, Angel, Jesie St. James, John Leslie, Laurie Smith, Tigr | Written by David F. Friedman | Directed by Henri Pachard


There have been plenty of volatile co-star rivalries in the world of cinema; Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, Sophia Loren and Jayne Mansfield, Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds… The list goes on. None are more notorious however than Linda Hand (Jesie St. James) and Lance Hardy (John Leslie). The pair are the hottest thing in the world of dirty pictures, but their egos are getting the better of them.

It comes to the boiling point when after a little spat before shooting a scene, Linda literally shows that her bite is much worse than her bark. The pair both storm off set vowing never to work with each other again! Understandably annoyed, legendary producers Bernard Kuntz (David F. Friedman) and Harvey Cox (Elmo Lavino) have had enough and get to work casting their replacements leading them to discover the beautiful Daisy (Angel). As this is going on, Linda “discovers” the potential “talent” in Bud (Herschel Savage), her new pool guy and concocts a plan to have him replace her former co-star. Speaking of which, after Lance has had some fun of his own with Dorothy (Kay Parker) – the secretary of Mr. Cox – he has a screen test with Daisy and finds a potential replacement of his own. Naturally, this leads the pair to try to outdo each other in a battle of crust coated wits. Will one of them come out on top or will they eventually put their differences aside? This is Hollywood! Who the hell knows what will happen!?

Well. I do. I watched the film. DUH!

Speaking of which, it’s OK. 

Think of your run of the mill romantic comedy, but shot in the mid-80’s as a porno. It’s that classic concept of pair drift apart and then go their separate ways only to potentially come back together at the end. Wether they do or not, that’s for you to discover. Stylistically, this film shines. It’s very much a product of it’s time. Unabashed bold colours, big hair both up and downstairs, amazingly cheesy synth and sax soundtrack (even with a nod to Jaws I might add!) and of course amazing fashion (what I would do for John Leslie’s Screw Magazine jacket! Someone needs to release reproduction apparel from the rags at the time.). As you can tell from the cast, it’s filled with notable performers of the time and as well as being masters at what they under the sheets and everywhere else you can imagine, they all put in solid performances.

Naturally, our main stars are John Leslie and Jesie St. James, both are great in their roles and their chemistry makes for great banter, but the stars of the show for me are David F. Friedman and Harvey Cox. For me, they provide the best comedy and they are very believable in their roles which is not surprising if you actually know anything about David F. Friedman and his amazing career. The action itself is of the quality you’d expect with the talents on show and there’s a few pieces of kink that help change it up a bit (even including an odd little threesome involving plaster and feet!).

All in all, Matinee Idol is solid enough, but doesn’t really have anything that’s too memorable. The comedy is there, but it’s not exactly a split your sides affair. If I was to recommend this film, it would be for a couple of things. First of all, the novelty of David F. Friedman’s involvement in front of the camera. Seeing him almost play himself and watching his showman banter with his partner and talent will bring a smile to lovers of trash cinema, but you’ll get your trash film geek boner moment when you see the posters lining his office wall! The second aspect is the way the film is shot in an almost meta-style. It’s almost a film about the porn business more than anything and although fictional, gives you a small insight in to the workings of the industry and how scenes are shot. It’s an intriguing piece of 80’s smut for sure. Definitely worth a watch for casual porn lovers, but a must for fans of David D. Friedman!

As you would expect, Vinegar Syndrome have once again delivered the goods with the transfer. There really are minimal amounts of print damage and you only really see them when you look for them. Unfortunately, extras are a little light, but remember, this is the first time in a very long time the film has been available uncut. What we do have is a Casey Scott moderated telephone conversation with the late great David F. Friedman himself and a trailer. The disc boasts cool artwork and a nice poster like piece for the reversible side. 

All in all a nice job. Worth a try for sure!

I still want that bloody jacket by the way!


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