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This month brings viewers a real oddity: a borschty “romantic comedy” set in the world of hardcore, directed by Henri Pachard and produced and written by…Dave Friedman?!?

John Leslie is famed stunt…er, privates…Lance Hardy.  Hard bitten, scary old Jesie St. James is his equally famed filmic partner Linda Hand.  The two are much renowned, with crusty old time producers Dave Friedman (!) and Elmo Lavino having pre-sold an entire run of costarring features, not to mention name branded Doc Johnson products off their reputation.

Too bad they hate each other, with St. James going so far as to give a good hard bite to Leslie’s moneymaker, as goofy Uncle Floyd music plays and the opening credits roll on a freeze frame of this.  BWA-HA-HA! Friedman and Pachard expect us to say…as we cringe in sympathetic distaste.

From here, we follow the two in their “private lives”, with flat chested, loose skinned St. James getting serviced by the pool boy (Herschel Savage) and Leslie giving favors to production assistant Kay Parker before cameras roll on a scene with him and gawkily cute airhead “first timer” Angel.

St. James invites over still-smokin’ vintage softcore starlet Sharon Kelly…er, “Colleen Brennan” to do a Cynthia Plaster Caster on Savage (geez, only a decade and a half behind the times, there, guys…), where they keep him in casting form by letting him dip his toes in forbidden waters (an amusingly kinky act yours truly always got a kick out of) before putting on an up close and personal hen show.  Of course, circumstances dictate his getting a proper scene in with Kelly as well (which is good, as her scenes are easily the highlight of the entire film).

St. James brings the pool boy into an adult film career (meaning he also gets a scene with Angel), Leslie gets schmoozed into a book deal by Henri Pachard (!) by the latter pimping off his “wife” Laurie Smith (who breaks out the silliest damn faux-domme outfit you ever did see), and in the end, Friedman and Lavino convince their big star couple that all that mutual distaste is really masking some serious affection…they even go so far as a proposal, if you can believe that

The visuals are as sumptuously restored as ever (kind of a given with Vinegar Syndrome), and the sole extra here is a feature-length phone interview with Friedman that runs as a commentary track for those so inclined.

Pachard, later mainly known for his penchant towards bathroom scenes where the unfortunate girl always has to stick her head in the toilet (while the male partner flushes!) seems a highly unlikely source for all this borscht belt humor and weird faux-romance, so it’s most likely entirely down to exploitation legend Dave Friedman.

Friedman, who started off as partner to Herschell Gordon Lewis throughout his nudie cutie, roughie and “blood trilogy” periods, would go on to produce a few of his own “roughies” like A Taste of Honey, A Swallow of Brine, Love Camp 7, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS and the Big Snatch plus a few oddities like She Freak and Space Thing throughout the 60’s and 70’s, before turning to a handful of adult features during the post-theatrical indie decline of the 1980’s and early ’90’s. This film was his second and last collaboration with Pachard (after 1980’s The Budding of Brie).

Even beyond scripting, producing and starring in his own feature, Friedman further saves a few bucks by using his own office (adorned with posters for such epics as Trader Hornee and Thar She Blows).

There’s really nothing much else to say about this one – unless you have a thing for Angel or really love old Catskills humor, beyond being cast with several notable names of the field, there’s just nothing “special” about Matinee Idol.

Kelly/Brennan looks damn good and comes off as likeably vivacious as ever, but she only gets about 10 or 15 minutes of screentime…so think of this one as more of a curiosity piece. “You know the one where Dave Friedman was in a hardcore picture with Henri Pachard?”

 

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