Saturday, May 13, 2017

#2,352. The Working Girls (1974)

Directed By: Stephanie Rothman

Starring: Sarah Kennedy, Laurie Rose, Mark Thomas

Tagline: "They'll do anything for money!"

Trivia: Cassandra Peterson plays a stripper in this film, years before being cast as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

One look at the poster for writer/director Stephanie Rothman’s The Working Girls and you know what you’re getting, right? That’s what I thought, anyway. But the truth of the matter is this 1974 film isn’t jam-packed with nudity and sex, as its promotional material suggests. In fact, aside from a risqué moment or two, it isn’t a sex comedy at all.

So what is it then? Damned if I know. I just finished watching The Working Girls and I’m still trying to figure it out!

The Working Girls follows the exploits of three roommates living in an apartment in Los Angeles. Honey (Sarah Kennedy) recently arrived in town and is desperately looking for a job. Jill (Lynne Guthrie) was lucky enough to find employment working as a waitress at a strip club, a position that will open more doors for her than she ever thought possible. Denise (Laurie Rose), who manages the building where the three of them live, is an artist by trade and paints signs for various customers. Denise’s relationship with Mike (Ken Del Conte), a street guitarist Honey brought home, seems to be going well, but Mike is hiding a dangerous secret, one that could get him and his three new friends in hot water with some very bad people.

At least the tagline for The Working Girls is correct: these ladies will do anything for money! At one point, Honey is contracted by an elderly woman (Mary Beth Hughes) to kill her husband; and later on, she’s hired by Vernon (Solomon Sturges), a millionaire, to be his constant companion (in a non-sexual way). As for Jill, she goes from being a waitress at the strip club to one of its headline performers (Jill’s strip routine makes her the only member of the main cast to appear in the nude). As if this promotion wasn’t enough, Jill is eventually asked to run the place when the club’s owner Sidney (Eugene Elman) decides to take a vacation!

The Working Girls has its share of romance as well; aside from Denise’s and Mike’s relationship, Jill meets, then falls in love with, a mobster named Nick (Mark Thomas).In addition, actress Cassandra Peterson, years away from becoming her alter ego, Elvira Mistress of the Dark, makes an early screen appearance as Katya, the stripper who teaches Jill the ropes. But despite its plethora of characters and a handful of engaging situations, The Working Girls is a movie that, for the most part, just kind of coasts from scene to scene. It’s not particularly funny, and rarely catches our attention long enough to leave an impression.

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