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Anthony Spinelli – Hotline (1980)

 

 

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hotline

A distinctly minor work from late genre giant Sam Weston (a/k/a “Anthony Spinelli”), HOT LINE fits right in with other second-string efforts like SKIN ON SKIN, AUNT PEG and BETWEEN THE SHEETS that are lighter on narrative than his more acclaimed classics, leaving more time to get down to business, not necessarily a bad thing. Sam had been so impressed with leading lady Jessie St. James on his marvelous EASY, he whipped up this frothy star vehicle for her to show off both her carnal and thespian abilities. She’s Jessie, a cocktail waitress trying to reach out and touch someone on her 35th birthday. As everyone she calls struggles for excuses not to spend time together, she gets progressively drunk and drifts off into a series of overheated fantasies.

Fearing her harridan employer (the inimitable Pat Manning) might fire her in favor of a younger and more pliable alternative (creamy Phaedra Grant, the bound girl in the closet from Sam’s fine CHINA SISTERS), she dreams of comeuppance courtesy of doormat bartender Justin, an unbelievably young and fresh-looking Jon Martin, who gets to have his merry way with this May/December match-up. Best friend Anne (gorgeous Cody Nicole, fresh off Svetlana’s SEX BOAT) is in the midst of entertaining what Jessie assumes is her secret lover (Herschel Savage, who’s a total hunk here) with an amusing punchline.

Little sister Cathy (then still new to the fold Nicole Noir, with a few extra – and most becoming – pounds) proves too preoccupied with tennis pro Eric Stein to recall anything as mundane as her sibling’s birthday. Stein, who chalked up more blue movie appearances than I realized (some two dozen), played the same part – trivia alert ! – in Chris Warfield’s delightful PURELY PHYSICAL and bears a passing resemblance to current mainstream actor Peter Sarsgaard. His passionate poking of naughty Nicole, who had the rare ability to switch from sweet to nasty in the blink of an eye, may very well be the heated highlight of this unassuming little flick. Not wanting to be left out, Jessie imagines herself at the center of a schizophrenically edited threesome involving Mike Horner and Ken Scudder in a vain attempt to conceal the latter’s troubles achieving and subsequently sustaining “wood”.

But then, as the song goes, they go and spoil it all, not by saying “I love you” but by shifting the mood 180° from light comedy (Justin’s short-lived menace notwithstanding) to psycho drama as Jessie dreams of seducing her estranged father, rather illogically played by John Leslie the same year the two of them soared in Weston’s über-classic TALK DIRTY TO ME. Their tremendous chemistry, convincingly displayed over a number of collaborations further including Sam’s unfairly discarded VISTA VALLEY P.T.A. and the late Ron Sullivan’s effervescent Matinée IDOL, scarcely makes up for the sheer morbidity of this lengthy section, culminating with Jessie flipping off her black wig, discordantly chanting “Happy birthday, you have just f*cked your daughter !” Even the final twist, revealing that all of Jessie’s loved ones blew her off because they were throwing her a surprise party that night, can’t eradicate the bitter taste this segment leaves in your mouth.

Screenplay duties are attributed to Jill of all trades Jean Gibson (a/k/a “Valdesta”), a minor soft porn actress who was in Stu Segall’s sorta mainstream bid DRIVE-IN MASSACRE and designed lavish sets and costumes for a number of high end hardcore projects, mostly Gary Graver’s, including THE ECSTASY GIRLS, AMANDA BY NIGHT and INDECENT EXPOSURE. Let’s just say the written word’s not her true calling. Veteran cinematographer Jack Remy, who was to evolve into a dependable directing force in his own right over the upcoming decade with such enjoyable lightweight fare as GIRLS ON FIRE, L’AMOUR and LOOKING FOR MR. GOODSEX, contributes candy-colored imagery that leaves the lovely ladies glowing with health.

Director:
Anthony Spinelli
Writer:
Jacqueline Giroux (screenplay)
Stars:
Jesie St. James, John Leslie, Pat Manning.

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