• Tinseltown (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: February 26th, 2019.
    Director: Carter Stevens
    Cast: Danielle Raye, Ashley Brooks, Tawny Pearl, Eric Edwards, Rhonda Jo Petty, Mike Ranger, William Margold
    Year: 1980
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    Tinseltown – Movie Review:

    The sole film directed by legendary (and self-proclaimed “Dinosaur of the Golden Age of Adult films.”!) Carter Stevens to have been lensed in the wilds of California rather than in and around New York, 1980’s Tinseltown is, like more than a few adult movies made before and after this one, the story of a small-town girl who gets in over her head in the big city.

    In this case, the girl in question is Mary Jo Harmon (Danielle Raye). After an opening scene where we see her getting intimate with her boyfriend we learn, through an opening bookend segment, how she left home to move to Los Angeles in hopes of making it as an actress. Before long, she’s got an agent working for her named Morty Green (William Margold) and, as you’d probably guess, eventually she winds up getting involved in adult movies – look out for Porno Pete (character actor Michael Donovan O'Donnell)! Along the way, she learns that she stories she’s heard about casting couches are true, and as her story plays out, we also learn about two other would-be actresses, Dominique Allwyn (Ashley Brooks) and Tawny Pearl (Pat Norman), one of whom will jump head first into the porno biz and the other of whom is seemingly quite content working as a call girl.

    Tinseltown isn’t the most original picture you’re ever going to see but it is well-made. From the opening animated credits to the film’s humorous finale, the picture is glossy and professional in its appearance and its tone. The cinematography is slick and the music works well in the context of the story being told. The film does a nice job of capturing some interesting locations and, story-wise at least, it makes some rather obvious, well-aimed shots at the film industry, adult and otherwise, along the way.

    Danielle Raye, who doesn’t appear to have any other films to her credit, is a cute and likeable leading lady. She has the wholesome sort of ‘girl next door’ look that a character like Mary Jo needs to work in a movie like this. Support from the rather fetching Ashley Brooks and from Pat Norman is also solid. The acting from the three ladies is just fine. As far as the guys go, Margold is quite funny here as Mary Jo’s manager. He’s clearly playing her and he handles the comedic side of this role quite well. Support from luminaries like Randy West, Mike Ranger and a very poofy haired Eric Edwards rounds things out well. Also look for Ronda Jo Petty cast here as a secretary and one of the more recognizable ‘creepy old guys of porn’ Jack Teague as Dominique’s first client.

    If this falls short of out ‘must see classic’ territory it’s entertaining enough and well-made enough to recommend to fans of the era. Stevens, who appears in the bookend segments sipping some Coors beer, directs the film well and holds our attention throughout.

    Tinseltown – Blu-ray Review:

    Tinseltown arrives on Blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome on a 25GB disc in a 1.85.1 widescreen transfer taken from a new 2K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative and presented in 1080p high definition. This is a really nice transfer, particularly when it comes to color reproduction. Stevens used a lot of warm, bright colorful locations for the film and these locations look really good here on this disc. There’s a tiny bit of print damage here and there but generally speaking the image is pretty damn clean. We get strong fine detail throughout and good depth as well. No complaints – the image is devoid of compression issues and shows no obvious digital tinkering.

    The English language DTS-HD Mono track is solid. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. The dialogue sounds pretty good and there’s decent solid here for an older single channel mix. The sound effects and score have a good amount of power behind them. The track is free of any obvious hiss or distortion. No problems to note with any balance and the music in particular sounds quite good here.

    The main extra on the disc is a brand-new commentary track with director Carter Stevens who walks us through the making of the movie and tells some amusing stories about the people that he worked with on the film. Moderated by Earl Kessler, the track covers how and why Stevens wound up in California where he made this movie, how and why certain actors wound up in the film (including NYC’s Teague), Stevens’ attempts to go legit and get out of the adult movie business around this time, the success of some of his films, working with the different cast members, staging the sequence where the three starlets masturbate, how he landed a bus station to use in the film, how one of the actresses was able to save them ‘a bundle’ in costume expenses by using her own clothes in the film, and more.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc is the film’s original theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release, we also get a DVD version of the movie and Vinegar Syndrome packages this with some nice reversible cover artwork.

    Tinseltown – The Final Word:

    Tinseltown isn’t the best golden age film you’re ever going to see, the story just isn’t all that original, but the performances are enthusiastic and the picture is cast well. It’s an entertaining picture with some colorful characters and effectively amusing set pieces that make it worth checking out. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray release is up to their typically high standards in terms of the presentation quality and the commentary with Stevens is an interesting extra that does a fine job of documenting the film’s history.

    Click on the images below for full sized Tinseltown Blu-ray screen caps!