They’re Housewives. They’re bored. They’re…”Moonlighting Wives.” Now Available at Amazon.com!
Unsatisfied with her distressed husband’s meager wage as a third shift switchboard operator, Joan Rand strikes up a new Stenography business to bring in a little extra cash for the household. When her new boss makes salacious advances toward her, she explores the opportunity of making more money than just on a stenographer’s wage. Roping in her only contracted typist, Joan begins to bring in beautiful, bored housewives seeking to earn dough no matter how sexually scandalous and instead of perfecting their short hand skills or their ability to read back letters aloud without error, the determined entrepreneur revamps her stenographic business as a front for perfecting prostitution. Infiltrating her way into every bar, hotel, and country club, even partnering with the country club’s golf pro, Joan’s call girl ring rides a profitable high and expands into new men-oriented territories but how long can the lucrative venture last when two vice cops are inching to bring down the elusive ring and one of her girls become scorned by the affectional eyes of love.
Sexploitation has come a long way since 1966 when director Joe Sarno helmed the scene-efficient and bored housewife subversion “Moonlighting Wives.” Before embarking full-fledged into the adult industry, Sarno blazed the trail for the economically friendly dicey skin flicks of the 1960s through the 1970s, retrospectively finding a cult base amongst observers and academics of subversive cinema and underground exploitation. “Bad Girls for Boys” producer Robert M. Moscow serves as associate producer on the Morgan Picture Corporation production, founded by George J. Morgan, producer of “The Thrill Killers” and “The Lemon Grove Kids Meet the Monster.”
Credited as Diane Vivienne, Tammy Latour (“The Naked Fog”) plays the business savvy Mrs. Joan Rand turning her dictation craft as a storefront for a more provocative and promiscuous profession to keep men happy and her pockets plush. Latour’s a cool and calculating in her performance that makes Mrs. Rand a pragmatic kingpin of her quick-to-success prostitution ring but in doing so with her performance, that is much like everyone else’s in the film denoting a sign of the time period in which the story is constructed, Latour comes off extremely monotone like her large 60’s hairdo houses a little green man at the control of her cerebral center, calling out commands flatly, coldly, and without a slink of emotion behind her absent inflections or thousand yard stares. Instead, much of the emotion, if any, is produced by her ashamed-driven to alcohol abusing husband and emotionally exploited bored housewife (Gretchen Rudolph, “The Dicktator”) brought to shambles after cheating on her husband and losing her paramour at the same time due to Rand’s scheming into the operational fold to rake in more rakes and cash. We’re treated to Mr. Rand’s bottoming out as he’s no longer the bread winner and he’s suspicions overwhelm him to drink himself into a stupor. The emotional pull that the Rand swindled housewife goes through is callously cut deep when her country club lover, Al Jordan (John Aristedes, “My Body Hungers”), becomes in cahoots with Mrs. Rand, taking her own as not only a business partner but a side-by-side lover, and coaxes his former mistress’s desire for him into doing naughty things with other men to keep him out of a deceived lie of debt. A rollercoaster of fear, doubt, acceptance, and emotional evolution goes to full arc spectrum with the one cog in the machine that ends up breaking down the whole organization into a crumbling heap. Aforesaid, the other performances don’t stray too far from Tammy Latour’s matter of fact and is more just a sign of the times in which “Moonlighting Wives” is produced, especially on a microbudget as early sexploitation couldn’t break into mainstream or even with welcoming arms in a more accepting niche public as a more right-wing, puritanical society was starting to be on the brink of uninhibited free love model. “Moonlighting Wives” has a sexploitation friendly cast with June Roberts (“The Pink Pussy: Where Sin Lives”), Marla Ellis (“Sin in the Suburbs”), Joe Santos (“Flesh and Lace”), and George Winship (“Teenage Gang Debs”).
How does a racy U.S. cinematic story beat the odds of staying out from the sleazy cinemas, like the sheltered exterior and tacky carpeted 42nd Street of the 1980s, and from being blackballed from the blue balled public looking for a little titillating release? Innuendo in film became a thing of the past once the film boards ruled film nudity was no longer to be considered obscene a few years before 1960 and this opened up an opportunity for filmmakers to tap into the salacious half of the American population, experimenting with primal carnalities depictions that burrowed into the deepest of desires. Since financing was scarce as the newly appointed sexploitation genre was too much of a risk for return, movies like “Moonlighting Wives” were made for next to nothing and director Joe Sarno quickly became quickly an expert in churning out licentious cinema commodities on a dime at the turn of the decade. Having completed moderately successful films of this nature with “Warm Nights and Hot Pleasures” and “Pandora and the Magic Box,” Sarno built a rapport with actors and actresses who would return film-after-film. John Aristedes, Joe Santos, June Roberts, and Tammy Latour, to name drop a few, regularly frequented Sarno’s casting call – and, hopefully, not his casting couch. Much like the rest of the lot, “Moonlighting Wives” serves as a lesson learned, a steep cost if you will, when morals mingle with perversity and blur the lines of right and wrong. However, these types of films didn’t come tense action either, or rather much of any type of action because of it’s hand-to-mouth (or in related terms – any orifice to mouth) leanness in funds. Sarno masters the exposition scene with what I like to label as high school sexual education discourse in where talking heads explain in detail every single action and do it in a tone that’s somewhere between mundane and deadpan. Objectively, “Moonlighting Wives” is a cold-hard look at cause-and-effect with the loosening of standards jeopardizing what’s most dear to you after the deed is done.
As a 2k restoration from the uncensored 35mm original negative, “Moonlighting Waves” has been paradoxically upgraded by adding back in original content that initially hit by censors with the lost nude scenes, a summation of 5 minutes’ worth of film, has be reclaimed for the Dark Force Entertainment Blu-ray release. Yet, Dark Force’s release also competes with a Sarno double feature in “The Naked Fog” from Film Movement that was coincides with a similar market date. Unfortunately, we’ve yet to land our hands on the Film Movement version to compare. The Dark Force Blu-ray is AVC encoded with high definition 1080p resolution and presented in the letterboxed 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Back cover lists the ratio at 1.33:1 but also list an anamorphic widescreen and while I concur with the anamorphic lens, the presentation is firmly in a square box of 1.33:1. Prefaced with a black title card warning regarding the additional image quality, more than just the additional footage has weathered under the test time to sometimes appearing more yellowish and with vertical scratch lines and speckled dust. For the most part, the overall image presentation makes the grade with an unimposing, yet steady color grading and most of the frames free from visual blights. If there were any digital enhancements done during the restoration, DNR appears to be the present culprit as facial features often appear too smooth for 35mm stock that should be developed with a fine layer of grain. The English 1.0 audio mix furnishes the appropriate single channel output for an exposition heavy feature. Distinct sound relativity is shot and the Stan Free score is lounge music 101 with rhythmic snare and hi-hat raps but the dialogue fairs rather strongly with forefront, clean, and clear conversing. Film historian Michael Bowen bookends a pair of included special features with an audio commentary track and an on-webcam interview discussing Sarno’s life coursing the newfound sexploitation genre pre his adult industry tenure. Also included is a deleted nude scene that involves no familiar actors from the trunk narrative in a seemingly out of place couple swap of the topless kind. I’m a little taken aback by the loss of some of the special features that were a part of the Alternative Cinema DVD release that are not present here on the Blu-ray, such as the Joe Sarno interview before his death. What’s neat about the physical features of the Dark Force release, aside from the clear Blu-ray snapper, is the retrograded, stark yellow and black, low-key cover art that builds up the hype with exclamational points about how obscene “Moonlighting Wives” is and not recommended it for the modestly shy and most prude moviegoers. The bold marketing attempt really perks up interesting in checking out the title that ultimately finishes with antiquated impressions, but the idea is neat, and the word heavy front cover is very representational of the exposition drenched dialogue in the narrative. Disc art is pressed with a wanted ad for young attractive women, which is also a nice touch. the region free release comes not rated and has a runtime of 86 minutes. Without a doubt scandalous in any decade, “Moonlighting Wives” encapsulates the seedlings of sexploitation with Joe Sarno at the helm of cultivating ripe, round melons out of barely any dirt and succeeding with a lust-heavy pursuit under a profession that now, ironically enough, only exists mainly in law-abiding courtrooms.