I always wonder what might happen if a talented pornographer were given the opportunity to make a mainstream film -I enjoyed Russ Meyer's THE SEVEN MINUTES (though no one agrees with me on that one), and Joe Sarno never got the chance in his long career.
French sex film pioneer Jose Benazeraf did go mainstream with COVER GIRLS, which despite its title is a glamorous drama with no sex or nudity whatsoever. It looks and plays like an A picture, but unfortunately like a deadly dull A picture.
Shooting in widescreen Techniscope, Benazeraf delivers a visually stunning opus, capturing lovely Italian architecture as backdrop for his attractive cast, and giving a pop art look to the interiors. But nothing of even the remotest interest happens in this uneventful look at the jet set.
Georgia Moll, who had a solid role in Godard's CONTEMPT, stars as a beautiful model in love with a young photographer, played by Fred Williams. He is a lookalike for Richard Beymer, which makes sense since Beymer was an iconic standard for handsomeness in the early '60s after starring in WEST SIDE STORY.
Williams is appealing, best remembered now for co-starring in several Jesus Franco movies. Oddly enough, when COVER GIRLS was made his career was headed on an A trajectory, featured back to back in movies by Visconti and Fellini.
Their romantic ups and downs are boring, with other lovely models vying for attention. My favorite in the supporting cast is Laila Andersson (fresh from her international success starring in SUDDENLY A WOMAN back in Denmark), a feisty scene-stealer here.
Also of interest is the striking beauty Maria Grazia Buccella, cast in a very odd role of narcissist, always shown riveted at close range to her own image in the mirror. Given that by googling you're just one click away from a full-frontal-nude still of Buccella on the internet it is bewildering why Benazeraf kept her fully clothed in the film.
Apart from some G-rated brief teasing shots of the leading ladies, there is zero nudity or even toplessness in COVER GIRLS. In fact, the beauties are not erotic but presented as glamorous, in lovely costumes. Where's Jose the eroticist when we need him? Also peculiar is hiring the French doyen of sex movies to direct an Italian movie - if his name were not in the credits one would never associate him with the finished product. Jose returned to Italy a decade later to direct his strangest movie ADOLESCENCE PERVERTIE, a sexy and poles apart picture compared to COVER GIRLS.
The most interesting segment of COVER GIRLS is a lengthy one about a fancy dress ball, with a big-budget look that proves this was a decently budgeted picture. The leading ladies put on a brief fashion show for the finale, but most viewers will leave the screening declaring "that's all there is to it?".
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