Amanda by Night’s Veronica Hart stars as the titular Wanda Brandt, who while sadly eschewing the leather and ponytail the film’s title would lead modern audiences to expect, does turn in a likeably assured performance in this amusing offering from the twilight years of adult cinema’s heyday.
The film kicks off with our morally ambiguous Reaganite heroine as she abandons the Altoona business she runs for a go at the bigtime: power players Tyler Securities in the heart of New York City. Unfortunately, her business is less corporate gladhanding and schmoozing than outright industrial espionage and blackmail…
After a few evenings working late in the office and rifling through her compatriots’ file cabinets, Wanda is joined by longtime coworker Janie (Tish Ambrose), who shows nigh zero concern over the high stakes game her former boss is playing (and which she thoughtfully invites Ambrose to join in on). Unfortunately, the homelier Ambrose is less lucky, with her intended blackmail victim (Peter Johns) turning out to be a dedicated swinger in an open marriage…
Hart, on the other hand, seems to live a charmed life, blackmailing Ashley Moore and suckering the delusional Mr. Margolis at his deathbed into signing away their respective shares, faux-seducing a nebbish named Maury out of his stock exchange floor pass and causing a several million dollar hit to Tyler alongside appreciative floorwalker Samantha Fox. But the board of Tyler has an ace in the hole, “the finest cracker in the business”, securities investigator Lou Perrini (Jamie Gillis)…
In the meantime, good ol’ gal Fox throws a huge party where she gets herself fingered, some refugee from gay porn gets blown by Richard Kernan lookalike Steve Milner’s jilted girlfriend, and Sharon Mitchell shows up for a quickie with Ambrose and Milner. Then things go all Irma Vep when Wanda and Janie don catsuits and domino masks to break into Scarsdale home of stockholder Al Anderson (Boomer Tibbs) and rifle through his record collection cum safe to (rather ineptly) steal his stock as CAM cues from Italian poloziotteschi play.
When Gillis finally starts closing in on her, Wanda spirits the lackadaisickal corporate sleuth away for a dirty weekend, while his partner Ron Jeremy gets stuck with Ambrose. But even the luckiest of sharpsters eventually rolls craps, and all Wanda’s hard work may be for nothing in the end…
One of the classier adult film stars, Hart, alongside Annette Haven, Rebecca “Mary Mendum” Brooke and arguably Leslie Bovee tends to carry herself with sufficient airs of respectability and haute couteure to rise above earthier and perhaps more self loathing peers to nearly fool the audience into believing they’re observing a slumming proper film star rather than a leading light in the more ghettoized world of porn.
Both unconventionally pretty and poised, the lady’s sheer self-possession carries over well enough that she was in fact able, however briefly, to enter into the mainstream worlds of both low budget cinema (Wimps, Slammer Girls, Deranged, If Looks Could Kill) and television (Simon and Simon, Airwolf) under the “Jane Hamilton” alias (as opposed to and oft confused with Jane Hamil, of the Rick Sloane Vice Academy series).
Aside from Hart, the only real points of visual interest are the two unnamed ladies who dally with Jeremy and Gillis in the film’s most breathtaking sequence, boatside in the New York Harbor (one Chantel Duclos and a Lisa Be, the latter of whom provides the most enthusiastic and appealing performance of the film in tandem with partner Ron “the humpster” Jeremy) and the aforementioned cameo from the similarly unnamed Sharon Mitchell.
Samantha Fox (of Doris Wishman’s A Night to Dismember and Hart vehicle Amanda by Night) was approximately midway through her career at this point, and while not altogether unappealing, seems a bit less lustrous here than I recalled her being from dalliances with her work in earlier years. Tish Ambrose (of Babylon Blue) is all chubby cheeked, kinky haired comic sidekick, with a pretty damn terrifying pair of overly distended pudenda. I’m sure there are fans out there somewhere, but to judge by her Janie Richmond herein, she’s so horribly unappealing to the aesthetic eye, the mind boggles…
Director Larry Revene did some mainstream work as a cinematographer, most notably on Code Red’s Doom Asylum and Joe D’Amato’s Contamination.7 (aka Creepers) but also working with such B-movie scream queen types as Jewel Shepard (Hollywood Hot Tubs) and Julie Strain (Night Visions) before, like so many industry standbys on both sides of the camera, returning to more familiar ground in shot on video hardcore around the early millenium.
While the film itself was likely shot in a softer focus, with less crispness to the image per se than Blu-ray inclined HD addicts may perhaps expect, Distribpix has done an admirable job of bringing this classic of porno chic kicking and screaming into the modern era.
In point of fact, boasting vibrant colors and warmer flesh tones, this is very likely the best this film has ever looked. If you walk in expecting more of a Jesus Franco aesthetic, you should find yourself quite pleased, moreover with some outdoor scenes (in particular the horny booze cruise) proving absolutely stunning in their clarity.
In terms of extras, there’s a commentary track for those interested in that sort of viewing experience and a short restoration comparison showing just how much of an improvement the current version actually is.
That noted, by far the most noteworthy of the bonus features is a half hour chat with Hart and Revene where she discusses her entree into the world of live sex shows and eventual hardcore film stardom and their respective work alongside Chuck Vincent, before Hart departs and we delve into Larry’s time with the Amero brothers (one of my favorite Third Eye guests, Roberta Findlay briefly enters the discussion here as well) shooting gay film during the time of the first Pride parade and the cruising scene at the West Side Highway piers (complete with a minute or two of footage showing pickups in the South Bronx-style bombed out squat-like conditions…seriously, these guys were crazy!)
While the film bears an oddly over-edited feel, with multiple character names and scene transitions either abandoned or never filmed, Wanda Whips Wall Street is still a divertingly amusing hour and change, with a classy lead actress who’s easy on the eyes and boasting the presence of four additional “name” stars (Mitchell, Jeremy, Gillis and Fox).
If you can get past all the Ambrose sequences (seriously, it feels like she gets the lion’s share of the prurient bits, though that may just be subjective horror speaking), for those who appreciate this era of adult cinema, it’s well worth your time.