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  French Quarter Quest For LoveBuy this film here.
Year: 1978
Director: Dennis Kane
Stars: Virginia Mayo, Bruce Davison, Alisha Fontaine, Ann Michelle, Lindsay Bloom, Vernel Bagneris, Stocker Fontelieu, Becky Allen, Anna Filamento, William Sims, Laura Misch Owens, Ronald Bolden, Dino Head, Don Hood, Lance LeGault
Genre: Drama, Trash, Fantasy
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Here is Inspector Sordik (Bruce Davison) to tell us all the tale of the sort of woman he was very familiar with, the sort who would come to New Orleans seeking their fortune, or at least some stability and opportunity away from whatever they were fleeing. In this case she was Christine (Alisha Fontaine) who climbed from the bus, suitcase in hand, and tried to find somewhere to live along with a job to get by for the moment, but even after scanning the local newspaper she drew a blank. This eventually led her to a bar in the French Quarter of the city where she spoke to barmaid Ida (Virginia Mayo) who sympathised and told her to speak to her boss: there could be something for her.

That something is taking her clothes off in a nightclub, not everyone's idea of a great occupation but if it managed to get Trudy a foothold in society she was happy, yet if you were settling in for a compassionate yarn about how a waif from the sticks managed to get by in the harsh big city, albeit one with the picturesque architecture of New Orleans, then you would be disappointed when Christine visited a voodoo priestess who gave her a cup of magical tea which had her fall asleep and wake up at the turn of the century instead. Still in the same place, but this ill-explained development was simply an excuse to take advantage of locations that had barely changed since the early 1900s and break out the dressing up box.

Although Christine, now renamed Trudy in her alter ego past life as it all went a bit Shirley MacLaine, was still a stripper back then as well, so spent a fair bit of the movie taking off the carefully chosen wardrobe selected for her. Star Alisha Fontaine enjoyed an "introducing" credit in spite of having made a few appearances in film since the start of the seventies, and ironically this was just about the last thing she ever turned up in, which once again demonstrates the peril of such an addition beside your name in the opening credits of your movie since more often than not it applies to someone hardly anyone has ever heard of, before or after. Anyway, Fontaine had a slight, blonde Faye Dunaway look about her that did not extend to her acting style.

Bruce Davison, who took care of the romantic aspect of Trudy's flashbacks, was a more established performer but evidently still had to make ends meet in low budget enterprises such as this, and Virginia Mayo had made her name as a leading lady to comic stars like Danny Kaye and Bob Hope, though here illustrated she was quite capable of character roles if requested. Everyone played a dual role in the contemporary and vintage sections, though you had to be sharp-eyed to spot the supporting cast who included British actress Ann Michelle, the Virgin Witch herself, appearing as a prostitute more drug addled than clear-headed. She took her clothes off, as did most of the younger actresses as in keeping with the setting director and co-writer Dennis Kane (making his sole film) had chosen.

Yet in spite of the potential for sleaze, there was a precious quality about French Quarter that suggested a nostalgia was the main impetus for creating it. For example, all the yesteryear section was adorned with a gauzy filter around the edges of the frame, which might have been alright for the first couple of minutes of that part, but as it was kept for well over an hour of it became very wearing as it looked as if your eyes had misted over and needed a good rub. Then there was the shapeless form of the plot, which took its Bridey Murphy angle and simply told a wishy-washy account of an olden times romance that had you pondering they could have been just as useful to ditch the modern sequences if that was all they were going to do with the story. Throw in that burlesque cliché of the striptease in an oversized champagne glass and a finale that staged a full on voodoo ceremony, and you had a real mess that has its fans for its attempts to do something different, but that doesn't acknowledge it didn't particularly succeed. Music by Dick Hyman.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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