ONCE UPON A BODY
Sam S. Catah
Release : 1969-01-01
With film specialization (and blogs) run rampant, it is refreshing to discover an undiscovered auteur. Somehow the thousands of revisionist “film historians” have failed to latch onto Sam S. Catah, but this presumably debut film of his is quality softcore. To borrow the most overused adjective of the era (today it would be “visionary”), this one is “different”.
With plenty of Manhattan location photography it is part of the porn school familiar to the legions of fans of Wishman, Sarno, the Findlays, etc., but manages to avoid their well-worn ruts.
Theme is the familiar one, combining female treachery with male brutishness. Sue Evans as Grace, Linda Boyce as Joyce and a still-unidentified actress as Ann are a nasty group of gal pals, two of them affecting heavy German accents (the on-screen credits give Jewish acting monikers: Sabra Isreal and Sally Cohn) and wearing horrible wigs.
They conspire to rob a homosexual street hustler of $700 he’s stashed in a drawer, including $25 recently paid him for a b.j. by Gotham porn icon Alex Mann. The fact that the film’s first simulated sex scene is gay porn certainly sets this baby apart from the usual format.
Larry Hunter plays Joyce’s mean main squeeze Cochran, who can dish out punishment with the best of them. This melodramatic subplot is executed by director Catah with relish, and manages to mix pathos with sleaze in novel fashion.
There’s many a twist and turn en route to a somewhat slapdash downbeat finish, in a film bookended by buxom Grace in bed with her man Steve, telling the tale to him.
It is the unexpected quality to many scenes of ONCE UPON A BODY that sets it apart. I’ll be watching for Catah’s later credits (GIGI GOES TO POT sounds promising) to see if a genius lurks near the bottom of the Big Apple porn barrel.
A Times Square sequence in the opening reel memorably covers the gamut of movies being shown, a mix of new releases, revivals and porn, with marquees displaying: PLAY DIRTY, PVT. NAVY OF SGT. O’FARRELL, THE WRECKING CREW, WALK DON’T RUN, THE LAST ADVENTURE (starring Alain Delon), NIGHT OF THE FOLLOWING DAY, BULLITT, GOLDFINGER, DR. NO, QUEEN OF BLOOD, TIGHT SKIRTS LOOSE PLEASURES, THE VIXENS, and THE BED AND THE BEAUTIFUL.
black & white, mono, fullscreen, 60 minutes. DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic!