Hot Legs (1979) (Film and DVD Review)

Directed by Bob Chinn
Starring Richard Pacheco, Jesie St. James, Paul Thomas
73 Minutes/Color


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Ah, HOT LEGS! Now this is what the Golden Age of Adult Films is all about! Bob Chinn, by this point a veteran of adult cinema whose name just screams quality, directs a first-rate cast performing a first-rate script, shot by a first-rate crew of professionals. Not only does the film look terrific, full of clever camera work and sizzling sex scenes, it’s just plain FUN!

A harried nylon stocking executive struggles to launch a successful ad campaign in spite of iffy investors, temperamental models and fussy photographers, all of whom seem to be more interested in shagging each other than with meeting their important deadline.

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As the 70’s drew to a close and Porno Chic began to show signs of being more fad than cultural revolution, adult filmmakers had to try harder to fill the seats. As the culturally-curious lost interest and the raincoat crowd began spending their evenings with that new-fangled VCR instead of treading the sticky floors of the local grindhouse, many pornographers relied on heavy plot and elaborate setups that wobbled a bit under the weight of a meager budget. HOT LEGS tries for something different – no pretensions of telling a deep and meaningful tale of sexual liberation – instead we are treated to a light and genuinely amusing story, scorching lovemaking and a talented, enthusiastic cast.

The cast is headed by the always enjoyable and handsome Richard Pacheco (credited here as Dewey Alexander). Pacheco would go on to show great emotional depth in Anthony Spinelli’s undisputed classic NOTHING TO HIDE two years later and shows an equal flare for comedy here. He can pull a face like nobody’s business and is the perfect audience identification figure. Jesie St. James takes top female billing and really shines, despite vanishing from the scenario by the mid-point. St. James is the ultimate late-70’s adult film actress: she’s gorgeous but real. She’s not plucked, pierced and inked within an inch of her life like today’s performers. Her body is natural. Gorgeous, but natural. Her acting is believable and effortless. She has an easy charm in front of the cameras that is irresistible.

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The supporting cast doesn’t let us down either. Many of your familiar favorites are here, including the late Laurien Dominique, Jon Martin (who has a particularly hot scene with Delania Raffino) and Lisa Sue Corey. Fresh-faced charmer Barbara Allen appears in her one and only adult film. She keeps herself covered but has an amazing screen presence and a sweetly delicate beauty.

Co-star Sharon Kane would soon after become adult film’s ultimate 80’s working girl-type, tough and brassy and full of charm and vinegar. Here, earlier in her career, she plays the innocent-faced photographer’s assistant exceedingly well. Her waist-length blond hair and expressive eyes make her fantasy sequence with Paul Thomas quite magical and erotic.

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Speaking of erotic, Bob Chinn doesn’t hold back in the sex scenes. Promotional ads at the time called HOT LEGS “the most erotic film Gail Palmer ever produced.” They weren’t kidding. The sex scenes all come across as real people having real sex. Nothing particularly off-the-wall goes on but the sex is served straight-up with style and lots of heat! The cinematography shines as much in these scenes as it does in the rest of the film, with plenty of close ups while still staying on the classy side of the eroticism vs. gynecology scale. Ken Gibb, veteran of hundreds of films both adult and mainstream, knows how to use his camera to bring us into the film rather than just to show it to us.

While the storyline functions mainly as rack to drape the sexual nylons on, it is still a joy to watch. The script is genuinely funny and it’s not hard to like these characters in both their comic and carnal modes. The script, by Jeffrey Fairbanks, is full of wit and keeps the story galloping along.

My only niggle is a very minor one. The synchronized roller disco-ing between Penelope Jones and straight-for-pay superstud R.J. Reynolds goes on a bit too long, but that almost amps up the comedy and period fun of the scene. When they finally do get down to it, the moment is volcanic.

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The comedic goings-on and sexual shenanigans are accompanied by a fun and pulsating score by Jay Phillips. Speaking of the music, the film kicks off with a rollicking (and presumably unlicensed) cover of Rod Stewart’s “Hot Legs!”

HOT LEGS is exactly what a vintage adult film should be…it’s simply a lot of fun to watch! It doesn’t plod, doesn’t pose, doesn’t preach. It simply delivers the goods in one witty, sexy package. Highly recommended!

Long available only through muddy prints on VHS and DVD, HOT LEGS has been brought back to life by the rock stars at Vinegar Syndrome. Their new widescreen DVD (a double feature with the John Holmes vehicle CALIFORNIA GIGOLO) looks fantastic. The disc also includes the trailers for both films.

-Johnny Stanwyck

 

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by Johnny Stanwyck

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