• French Shampoo



    Released by:
    Video-X-Pix
    Released on: January 16, 2007.

    Director: Bill Eagle

    Cast: Bobby Astyr, Marc Stevens, Annie Sprinkle, Darby Lloyd Rains, Kim Pope

    Year: 1978

    Purchase From TLA Video


    The Movie:


    Appearing on the title card as ‘French Shampoo (an homage to W.B.)’, this 1978 film directed by Bill Eagle (Bill Milling) revolves around a young woman named Princess Yolanda (Nikki Hilton) who is the niece of Sheik Waldo Ibn Syaid (Bobby Astyr). Sheik Waldo feels that his niece is more than a little bit on the homely side and figures that if he’s ever going to have her married off to anyone of any social standing whatsoever, that he’d better get her a makeover of sorts. Enter Diana (Kim Pope), the sexy owner/operator of a prestigious salon smack dab in the middle of one of Manhattan’s fanciest areas. Sheik Waldo approaches her and offers her a cool million bucks if she can get Yolanda into the kind of condition where anyone might want to marry her – and with that kind of money on the line, you know Diana is going to do everything that she can to make it happen.


    So with her quest in order, Diana brings together some of the best experts that she knows, not just in the areas of cosmetology and style, but in sex as well. Francesca (Darby Lloyd Rains), Helen (Helen Madigan) and Little Mary (Annie Sprinkle) are all on hand to help her out, and if they happen to get laid, screw one another, or open their mouths just in time for a dick to fall in, so be it! Also on the scene is the one and only Mr. Marco (Marc Stevens – though credits on screen as Marc 10 ½ Stevens, for those who are keeping track of these things), a true professional, perpetually clad in mirrored shades and with the uncanny ability to turn any woman into the hottest of the hot with the use of his mighty dong.


    An exceptionally goofy take on the Warren Beatty movie Shampoo (if the whole ‘an homage to W.B.’ thing didn’t make that clear already), French Shampoo has a lot going for it. First up, well, there are the ladies. Kim Pope and Darby Lloyd Rains both look great here but Annie Sprinkle has rarely looked better. She gets a good amount of screen time here for what is essentially a supporting role and she really gives it her all, especially once it’s time to do the deed. Always a spirited performer, Ms. Sprinkle shows here an obvious and seemingly very genuine passion for her work, making her scenes stand out more so than the others (which are nothing to sneeze at). On the flip side of that coin, we have Bobby Astyr, the clown prince of porn if you will. Bobby always had a talent for comedy and he had those sort of quirky looks to match that talent. Here, decked out in the finest Sheik costume ten bucks could buy, he looks absolutely ridiculous and the fact that he’s so completely not Arabian just adds to the fun of his work. Hammy, bordering on slapstick even, he even keeps the jokes going in the sex scenes where normally you might expect him to tone it down a bit.


    On top of that, the film makes use of some interesting and very recognizable music, from The Ronette’s ‘Baby It’s You’ to Maria Muldaur’s ‘Midnight At The Oasis’ to a pair of hits by The Chiffons – ‘Oh My Lover’ and ‘He’s So Fine’ - which just adds to the insanity of it all. Throw in the soothing sounds of the most controversial duet a certain cigarette loving French crooner ever sang and a Sam And Dave tune and you’ve got yourself one Hell of a soundtrack.


    The movie doesn’t overstay its welcome, the sex is hot but works well in the context of the storyline and as such doesn’t feel too gratuitous, and the comedy? Quite good, thanks primarily to the efforts of Astyr. We don’t get much location footage, something a lot of 70s era NYC porn buffs enjoy, as almost all of the action takes place in the salon but the strength of the cast and their combined efforts more than makes up for that.


    Video/Audio/Extras:


    This fullframe transfer about as good as you’d expect it to given that it’s obviously taken from a tape source. As such, it’s interlaced and soft and not really looking so hot, but it’s watchable – just keep your expectations in check. The movie’s good enough to warrant a re-mastering job, hopefully that’ll happen down the road given VXP’s recent restorations and transfers, but until then this’ll do. The Video-X-Pix bug does appear in the bottom right corner of the screen during the sex scenes.


    The Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack is a little muffled and not of the best quality, but again, it’s taken from a tape source so the limitations of the older technology are going to be there when that’s the case. Dialogue is pretty easy to understand, however, and the background music comes through reasonably clear. There aren’t a lot of sound effects used in the film, mostly just some random moaning and groaning during the action scenes and these are handled just fine, as are the talkier bits of the movie.


    The disc doesn’t come with a whole lot in the way of extra features but there are two trailers tucked away neatly underneath the menu screens. First up is a trailer for Blonde Goddess, followed by a trailer for Gerard Daminao’s People. That four minute video interview with Ron Jeremy in which he plays the piano before telling stories about the golden age of smut is carried over here and there’s also a still gallery and a ‘VXP Demo’ which is basically just a promo reel for other titles available from Video-X-Pix.


    The Final Word:


    A really good bit of dirty movie fun, it’s hard to imagine anyone with an interest in classic porn not getting a kick out of this one. Aside from the limited locations, you’ve got a great cast who are not only shot well but at the top of their game in terms of delivery and spirit. The DVD isn’t so hot in terms of quality, but it’s watchable enough until a better option comes along. Overall this is just a really fun, sexy, goofy movie.