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  Chatterbox! The Vagina Dialogues
Year: 1977
Director: Tom DeSimone
Stars: Candice Rialson, Larry Gelman, Jane Kean, Perry Bullington, Arlene Martel, Michael Taylor, Cynthia Hoppenfeld, Robert Lipton, Rip Taylor, Irwin Corey, Sandra Gould, Trent Dolan, Lois Walden, Gloria Victor, Jessica Stuart, Bob DeSimone, Biff Warren
Genre: Comedy, Sex, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Penelope Pittman (Candice Rialson) is enjoying a night of passion with her boyfriend Ted (Perry Bullington) when something strange occurs: they are just relaxing in their post-coital glow when a voice pipes up and points out that he simply wasn't all that good, which offends him so much that he gets up, puts on his clothes and leaves, telling Penelope that he never wants to see her again. She is understandably upset about this, because she didn't think she had said anything at all, so where was the voice coming from? On entering the bathroom, the awful truth becomes clear...

Chatterbox! is a movie that could only have been made like this in the nineteen-seventies, a sex comedy where the raunch was so idiotic that it actually carried an odd charm. It would not have been made before that decade, and after it any humour, such as it was, would have been too knowing, too studied in its kitsch, to be entertaining. Not that many would have tried the idea after the era this hailed from had played itself out, and its cartoonish quality meant it contained a weird innocence in spite of its subject matter, which had apparently been inspired by a French film of a couple of years previous, the more forthrightly-titled Pussy Talk.

In a reversal of the premise of the porn blockbuster Deep Throat, Penelope finds her vagina is speaking to her, and not only her, as she is intent on holding ribald conversation with anyone around. Candice Rialson was one of the few actresses around who could have handled this role with just the right mix of brightness and embarrassment, a popular fixture in many an exploitation flick in this decade though this would lilkely be her most infamous movie. She would give up acting two years later, fall into obscurity, and just as interest in her work was beginning to pick up again (Bridget Fonda's character in Jackie Brown was a tribute to her) it was discovered she had died in 2006.

So while that's a sad conclusion to a cult career, we still had works such as this to remember her in her prime, even if we couldn't ask her what she really thought of movies like Chatterbox. In the plot, Penelope and her yakking lady garden (renamed Virginia) goes from a hairdresser in a salon owned by the perhaps inevitable Rip Taylor to an overnight success once she visits a psychiatrist (Larry Gelman) about her problem. He puts her on display in front of his peers, then becomes her agent, securing personal appearances across the nation, including a stop at the also perhaps inevitable Professor Irwin Corey's talk show - you're never far away from an ancient oneliner or quip here, be assured.

This wasn't a hardcore feature, so we didn't get to see Virginia conversing in closeup or anything, in fact director Tom DeSimone (whose other job at the time was making gay porn) was pretty coy about going into too much detail, and just as well because any attempt at the genuinely erotic would have killed the humour stone dead. Some of the jokes were quite funny in their groansome manner, nothing that would pass muster as shining wit of the highest level, but stupid enough to prompt a few chuckles, and Rialson's presence went some way to having this be more enjoyable than it really should have been. Compare it to other adult-oriented comedies at the time like Rabbit Test and it was decidedly a triumph, and it was easygoing enough not to make every gag sex-related (or maybe just desperate for material). As it moves towards a climax which suggests all involved really wanted to be making an old time musical (Virginia's singing is her raison d'ĂȘtre in showbiz) a happy ending did arrive after a fashion, and was obvious if you thought about it. Music by Fred Karger.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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