• Take It Out In Trade (AGFA/Something Weird Video) Blu-ray Review

    Take It Out In Trade (AGFA/Something Weird Video) Blu-ray Review
    Released by: AGFA/Something Weird Video
    Released on: November 13th, 2018.
    Director: Edward D. Wood Jr.
    Cast: Michael Donovan O'Donnell, Duke Moore, Donna Stanley, Edward D. Wood Jr., Donna Young, Monica Gayle
    Year: 1970
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    Take It Out In Trade – Movie Review:

    This previously most or less unreleased film directed by Ed Wood in 1970 features some great narration from Wood himself, introducing us to tough guy detective Mac McGregor (Michael Donovan O'Donnell, who had bit parts in classics like Satan’s Cheerleaders and Vixen). He operates out of what looks like the back of a used furniture store where he smokes cigarettes and drinks Miller High Life, the Champagne of Beers. One day he’s on the receiving end of a strangely stilted phone call from a woman named Mrs. Riley who got his contact information from the classifieds. She wants him to find out what happened to her daughter. Before you know it (and before she can give him the address), Mac has shown up at the affluent Riley home where she and her husband Frank (Duke Moore of Plan 9 From Outer Space, Night Of The Ghoul) agree to pay him a handsome fee and cover his expenses in hopes that he’ll be able to find out what happened to their beloved daughter Shirley (Donna Stanley of Swamp Girl and Fire In Her Bed).

    Soon enough, Mac is travelling the world on the Riley’s dime, making stops in Canada, Greece and plenty of other exotic locales. Here he spies in on pretty girls as they strut about in the buff and shower, while periodically sending the Riley’s postcards lying about his activities and giving them supposed updates on his case. Eventually, Mac realizes he’d better get to work, at which point he visits a junkie named Sleazy Maisy Rumpledink (Nona Carver, who popped up in Revenge Of The Virgins, written by Wood and released in 1959). He roughs her up for a clue and is told to go visit a drag queen called Felicia (Wood himself again, in a dapper angora sweater and swilling cheap whiskey). It’s here, after some gleefully catty back and forth, that McGregor is told that Shirley may be in the employ of a local brothel. He heads on over there to check out the scene, but the girls that work there get a ‘heads up’ and as such, lay a trap for him…

    The cast here is pretty great. Michael Donovan O'Donnell isn’t your typically handsome leading man, instead he’s a bit of a schlub, but he’s fun to see here. He’s got very expressive, almost cartoonish eyes and facial expressions and you can’t help but laugh at the silliness of it all when his face lights up anytime he sees a naked lady. Wood is also a kick to see here as Felicia. He shows an ability to be remarkably catty here, looking pretty haggard in drag but still giving his all to the part. Nona Carver as the illustrious Ms. Rumpledink… you can’t help but think of Edith Massey when you see her and hear her talk. Read into that what you will but if nothing else she’s a memorable character actress. And then there’s sultry Donna Stanley as Shirley, her innocence clearly lost even if her parents are in obvious denial about it. She’s a stone-cold fox but also does a nice job playing up her character’s cocky attitude.

    It's also fun to see Ed Wood stock player Duke Moore show up in the film as Shirley’s father, Frank. And if that weren’t enough? A consistently topless Monica Gayle of Switchblade Sisters fame pops in a few times to show off her breast exercise routine while Phyllis Stengel of Miss Nymphet's Zap-In also shows up to strut her stuff.

    As to the pacing? Well, that’s a different story. As a fan of naked ladies it’s almost painful to write that there’s a prolonged scene here showing all of the girls at play in the brothel that just goes on too long. Oh sure, they’re all goofing around in the buff, which is awesome, but it brings the story to a grinding halt for what feels like a good fifteen-minutes. There’s plenty of eye candy in this sequence but it adds nothing to the plot. Still, the rest of the film is pretty great if you can appreciate Wood’s unique take on ‘erotic.’ The girls admittedly are all very nice looking but outside of that we get weird Woodian touches like the inclusion of a gay couple, Wood himself in drag, a heroin user and some occasional instances of light kink. It’s all strictly softcore but that just adds to the film’s playful charm (and it is very much a playful picture, everyone on camera seems to be having a blast).

    Like most of Wood’s movies, especially his adult material, this one looks like it was made for about the cost of a good lunch but it’s got that charm that makes his films so appealing to a certain segment of cult film fandom. Not only does it serve as a fantastic showcase for early seventies boudoir fashion but it shows off a few recognizable Los Angeles locations (“Hey look, The Brown Derby!”) and a genuinely awesome score. The script is also pretty funny sometimes, playing up a lot of goofy sex jokes but really giving Wood a lot to work with in terms of the narration. There’s an attempt here to craft something akin to a softcore take on a classic film noir. It never really works out, things never did for poor Ed, but you’ve got to admire the guy for trying.

    Oh, and at one point a woman colors her nipples with lipstick, draws a flower on her lower stomach above her crotch and then makes polka-dots all over her ass cheeks.

    Take It Out In Trade – Blu-ray Review:

    AGFA brings this long-lost oddity to Blu-ray framed at 1.33.1 taken from a ‘new 2K preservation from the only 16mm theatrical print in existence!’ The AVC encoded 1080p presentation looks surprisingly good for what it is. Yeah, there’s print damage noticeable throughout but the image is stable and colorful. There aren’t any noticeable issues with compression nor is there any noise reduction evident here – this looks quite filmic. It’s grain, as you’d expect it to be, but naturally so. Colors are nicely reproduced and if black levels aren’t reference quality they’re still pretty solid. The near constant parade of flesh on display also looks as it should, never too pink and never waxy. All in all, given the film’s completely scattershot history, it’s actually surprising to see it look as good as it does here.

    The DTS-HD Mono track is fine despite some occasional hiss and one or two instances where the dialogue is a little echoey. Levels are properly balanced and the track is clean enough that you’ll have no trouble following it. The score sounds pretty solid here too. Unfortunately, there are no subtitle options provided.

    Extras start off with an all-new commentary track with filmmaker Frank Henenlotter, Ed Wood biographer Rudolph Grey (the author of Nightmare of Ecstasy- The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr.), and AGFA's Joseph A. Ziemba. It’s a good track with a lot of information given here about the history of the film, what happened to it after it was made and how it wound up where it is now. They talk about Wood’s career at the time, that this was his first directorial feature since 1960’s The Sinister Urge, and about the state of his life away from the camera as well. There’s lots of talk about the different players that appear on screen, where some of them have appeared in other films and their respective connections to Wood where applicable. It’s detailed and informative and a good listen – these three have a good vibe going, with Henenlotter and Ziemba doing a nice job of keeping the pace going when Grey occasionally quiets down.

    From there, dive on in to just under seventy-minutes of outtakes from the feature, all presented in high definition from a 2k scan. Going back to the nineties, Something Weird Video had made this material available before the film itself was found, so hardcore Wood devotees may have seen it before, but the picture quality here is vastly improved over that older SWV release. This material doesn’t have any live sound for it, so music from the feature is used overtop of it. Most of this material is really just more of the same – lots of naked gals rolling around, Mac McGregor skulking about, the gay couple being the gay couple and Wood in drag. Still, it’s great to have this material properly preserved the way that it is here and this is a great complement to the feature attraction.

    AGFA has also provided a second feature on the disc in the form if 1969’s The Love Feast, directed by Joseph F. Robertson, an old war buddy of Wood’s! Also known as Pretty Models All In A Row, the film stars Wood as a photographer named Mr. Murphy, though he tells people to just call him Murph. He’s got a pretty good thing going in that he’s got a knack for talking good looking women into coming over to his place under the guise of using them for a photoshoot, only to then proceed to basically fondle them. It’s pretty unethical, actually, but he seems to really enjoy it. Eventually he’s got a veritable harem in his house, and so he invites a cab driver and then some plumbers to come on in and help him out with the gals. All is going swimmingly until a trio of tough gals show up and force him to cross dress after putting him on a dog chain and making him lick a woman’s boots!

    Joseph F. Robertson would go on to make a lot of porno movies in the eighties under the alias of Adele Robbins (including Snow Honeys) but before all of that he produced a few B-horror pictures like The Slime People and The Crawling Hand. His directing in this picture is… pretty rough. He clearly subscribed to the ‘point and shoot’ school of filmmaking as this one is pretty rudimentary on almost every level. It’s pretty dire softcore nonsense but Wood aficionados will appreciate seeing old Ed get a lot of screen time here. Yeah, he’s looking like he just came off a three-day bender here, and he may well have done just that, but there’s that wacky glean in his eye that lets you know it doesn’t matter, because he’s clearly having a blast. Half of his lines are slurred and there are a few spots where it is clear that the guy needed to dry out, but if this is far from Wood in his prime it’s still a genuinely interesting and bizarre artifact from a filmography filled to the brim with the interesting and the bizarre.

    The Love Feast, for this released, was also scanned in 2K from an original 35mm theatrical print and it looks quite solid. The old DVD release from Rhino had digitally fucked with credits listing Wood as director and producer. Thankfully AGFA’s version omits that silliness in favor of the real deal. Gotta love those weird body painting opening credits!

    This Blu-ray/DVD combo pack also comes packaged with some nice reversible cover sleeve art and an insert booklet that contains exclusive liner notes from Grey that talk up the craziness of some of the dialogue and offer a quick history of the film. The booklet also contains some information on the technical presentation as well as some background information on AGFA and what they’re all about.

    Take It Out In Trade – The Final Word:

    Take It Out In Trade is a mess the way that a lot of Wood’s films were a mess but, like so many of his other efforts, it has that inexplicable charm and that weird passion for filmmaking on display and that keeps it interesting and entertaining despite some pacing issues. The inclusion of the second feature, the massive trove of outtakes and the commentary gives the disc plenty of additional worth for fans of the director, and the presentation is a strong one making this release an essential one for Ed Wood fans.

    Click on the images below for full sized Take It Out In Trade Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Maureen Champ's Avatar
      Maureen Champ -
      Are these last two screenshots from 1995's release of outtakes compilation?
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      Yep! Those are carried over to this disc and presented in HD as noted in the review.