It just dawned on me: What am I going to do when I eventually run out of Doris Wishman movies to watch? Ahhh, just the mere thought of watching a film that isn't directed by Doris Wishman is enough to make my skin crawl. Now, some of you might be thinking that I'm currently suffering from a severe case of Stockholm Syndrome, or, in this case, a severe case of Doris Wishman Syndrome. But I can assure you that I'm not. Seriously, though, the prospect of watching a film that isn't obsessed with showing close ups of feet, doesn't linger on inanimate objects for no discernible reason, and has zero frazzled women on the brink of insanity is a frightening thought indeed. Realizing this, I approached My Brother's Wife with a new-found appreciation for Doris Wishman as an artist. Every time we would get a close up of some feet, I would nod approvingly. The same goes for the shots of inanimate objects (ashtrays, table settings, lamps, garbage pails, etc.) and, of course, the scenes where the characters not speaking dialogue would appear onscreen while those speaking dialogue would appear off-screen. You could view this film as a Doris Wishman best of album. Only problem being, the story isn't all that compelling. Sure, all the elements are pretty much in place, but something is missing.
The first thing that struck me was just that, no one gets struck in this film. I don't even think a woman gets slapped once during its spry running time. Not that I want to see women slapped around. It's just that this film is supposed to be a "roughie." I know what you're thinking, the film opens with two guys punching and kicking each other in a pool hall for an extended period of time. Yeah, but, if I wanted to watch two guys beating up one another, I'd watch hockey.
Judging by the way these two guys are going at it, the woman their fighting over must be quite something. What's that? How do I know their fighting over a woman? What else could be? It's true, they could be fighting over a lot of things. But let's get real, it's probably a woman.
Proving that she's still got some storytelling tricks up her sleeve, Doris Wishman shows the film's final scene at the beginning. At first I was like: I don't get it. Why show the end of the movie right off the bat? Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. This was all one big tease to get us interested in knowing how these two men managed to find themselves rolling around with one another in the middle of the afternoon on a dingy pool hall floor. And I have to admit, I was somewhat curious to find out how these two men ended up where they did.
Just as my curiosity was about to go into overdrive, the reason they were fighting finally appears onscreen. Tilting her head inquisitively at the man standing in her apartment doorway, Mary (June Roberts) invites him in when Frankie (Sam Stewart) identifies himself as her husband's brother. That's right, that means to Frankie, Mary is his brother's wife.
Instead of filming Mary and Frankie sitting on the couch in a normal manner, Doris Wishman insists on keeping her camera trained on their feet for the duration of the scene. According to my calculations, we get three separate cutaways to their feet as they talked (the third cutaway lasts twice as long the two previous foot-based cutaways). And just for good measure, we get a shot of Mary's heels as she walks to the kitchen. If that good measure wasn't enough for you, we get another shot of Mary's feet as she fixes her hair in the blender. What I mean is, she uses the reflective surface on the base of her blender to calculate the structural integrity of the hair follicles that sit atop of pretty little head.
When her husband, his brother, Bob (Bob Oran), comes homes, we're all thinking the same thing: How did a major hottie like Mary end up with a middle-aged slob like Bob? Wait a second, "major hottie" doesn't do Mary justice. She's a luminous flower, one that is too beautiful to be defiled by the likes of Bob. And that's just the thing, he doesn't defile her. Oh, sure, he might have defiled in the early days of their marriage, but it's been quite some time since he's defiled anything.
You know what that means, right? Congratulations, Frankie. Your cock is in for a treat. Picking the perfect time to visit his older brother, it would seem that Frankie has stumbled upon not a loveless marriage, but definitely a sexless one.
Oh, and before you start chewing out Bob and his lackluster genitals for not wanting to smear his face all over his wife's stocking-encased legs–and believe me, they're always stocking-encased–let's try to understand his point of view, shall we? Maybe he can't keep up with her, if you know what I mean.
Yes, I realize you don't need an erection to smear one's face all over stocking-encased legs. But he is at least twenty-five years older than her. So, maybe it's a stamina thing. Hell, maybe he just doesn't like sex.
After dinner, Bob tells Frankie that his old flame, Zena (Darlene Bennett) is still town. When Bob mentions Zena's name, Frankie's eyes light up. According to Frankie, "Zena's got everything, and a little bit more."
Hosting a party for her sleazy friends, we meet the well put together Zena as she's overseeing the orgy that is currently taking place in her living room. In-between all the shots of feet in heels, feet in stockings and, my personal favourite, feet in stockings and heels, Frankie and Zena get reacquainted with one another.
Oh, would you look at that, someone does get slapped in the face in this movie. After a close up of Mary's feet standing in the kitchen, Frankie makes a play for her. Put off by Frankie's clumsy attempt to grope her, Mary expresses her displeasure by slapping him across the face.
Giving her husband one last chance to give her the ripe dicking she deserves, Mary slowly undresses in front of Bob.
Removing her white bra first, Mary takes off her tan stockings, then her black garter belt. As she stood there, admiring the shape of her body in the mirror, I couldn't help but notice that Mary is the first character I've seen so far in a Doris Wishman movie to not wear black undergarments. Sure, her garter belt was as a black as the night sky, but her bra and panties were definitely white. I wonder if that was done on purpose?
Anyway, after getting nowhere with Bob, Mary heads straight into the arms of Frankie, who literally sweeps her off her feet. Carrying her into his bedroom, Frankie goes to work on Mary's lingerie. Work that lingerie, Frankie. Work it!
Instead of showing Mary's throbbing pussy reacting positively to Frankie's tender caresses, Doris Wishman substitutes it for Mary's throbbing belly button. The throbbing belly button motif returns in the next scene, when we get a shot of Mary's belly button throbbing underneath the black mesh midriff section of her dress while getting ice for the stiff drink she's making for Frankie.
Even though I can't really comment on June Robert's performance, as we never really get to see her utter any lines of dialogue onscreen. The sight of her getting ice from the freezer is the epitome of sexy.
As you might expect, Frankie is torn between Mary, the bored housewife, and Zena, the wild party girl. Oh, and if you're thinking that Frankie is worried that he'll hurt his brother's feelings. Think again. Frankie doesn't give a fuck.
Up to his chin in brunette pussy, Frankie has got two leggy goddesses gunning for his cock. In other words, things couldn't be better. Or are they?
A wild card named Della (Dawn Bennett from Bad Girls Go to Hell) shows up to put crink in Zena's plans. A staunch lesbian in a leather jacket, one who wouldn't look out of place in the front row at a Bikini Kill concert, Della puts the moves on Zena. This scene is awkward because I think Darlene and Dawn are sisters. But then again, they barely touch one another. Incest averted.
Featuring too many scenes that have Frankie demanding that Mary get 2000 dollars out of Mary and Bob's joint checking account and one's that have Zena demanding that Frankie get 2000 dollars, "No money, no Zena," she tells him, the film, much like this review, starts to overstay its welcome after awhile. That being said, from an aesthetic point of view, you're not going to find a more perfect movie. Close up shots of feet, stockings, inanimate objects, heavy eye-makeup and off-screen dialogue, this film's got everything and a little bit more.