Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Brick Dollhouse (Tony Martinez, 1967)

Do you like boys? Do you like to get high? Do like nude parties? Do you like orgies? If you answered yes to all of these questions, than you'll feel right at home with the sophisticated ladies who populate the hedonistic world of David F. Friedman's The Brick Dollhouse, a movie that was, according to its promising tag line, "filmed in color so you can see it as it is." A fast-paced thrill ride filled with intrigue, lust and more plot twists than a Kafka novel... are words you will never hear bandied about in association with this movie. Oh, and by the way, are Kafka novels known for having plot twists? You know what? Never mind, as I bet this film isn't Kafka-esque in the slightest. No, the words you will probably hear in association with this movie are as followed: Pedestrian, asinine, pathetic and ramshackle. However, there's no way in hell I'm going to use any of those words. You wanna know why? What do you mean, no? Whatever, man, I've come too far to stop now. The reason I'm not going to use any of those words is because this film is aesthetically superior to almost ninety percent of everything that's ever existed. Sure, the film is severely lacking in a few key areas... (A few?) Okay, it's lacking in a shitload of key areas. But you can't look me in the eye and tell me this film doesn't ooze aesthetic perfection.

Not really a film in the classic sense of the term, The Brick Dollhouse is basically a series of scenes cobbled together in order to showcase the unique styles of the late 1960s. Yet, to comply with the rigid standards that state that films should be "about something," David F. Friedman (the brains behind the whole operation) asked screenwriter Joe Delg to concoct some cockamamie story revolving around the murder of a fashion model. But make no mistake, this film is about shooting on the cusp of being chichi women with fierce hair smoking pot at pot parties, cha-cha dancing at pot parties and playing strip spin the bottle... at pot parties.

When the film opens, and we see the principal cast coming home from another one of these wild pot parties. Three women, Sherry West (Peggy Ann), Danielle Dubois (Janice Kelly) and Carmen Espinoza (Tina Vienna), enter the room of Min Lee (Joyana), only to find her lying topless on her bed with an apparent gun shot wound to the thorax.

Judging by the shocked facial expressions each woman displays after seeing Min Lee's dead body, it's obvious that Danielle Dubois is going to be my favourite character.

I mean, the way she puts her finger in her mouth (a clear attempt on her part to stifle the scream that was surely forthcoming) was off the charts in terms of  adorableness.

It was obvious that Danielle Dubois was David F. Friedman's favourite as well, as she gets the bulk of the attention in the early going. Filming her taking a shower, filming her getting dressed, filming her... Well, you get the idea. David F. Friedman and I both love Danielle Dubois and we don't care who knows it.

I want to say Janice Kelly was chosen to do most of the film's heavy lifting, dialogue-wise, because she's the best actress. But I'm afraid I can't do that. It's simply, really, I caught Janice Kelly on several occasions looking directly at the camera. And I'm not talking about the kind of fourth wall breaking Tracey Adams gets up to in Invasion of the Samurai Sluts from Hell, where it's evident she's doing it on purpose. No, every once and a while I would notice Janice Kelly stare right into the lens. Anyway, I'm not going to let the fact that Janice Kelly breaks a number of acting rules in this movie diminish my admiration for her as a human being.

After Min Lee's body is taken away, Lt. Parker (George French) tries to piece together the events that lead up to Min Lee's death by interviewing her housemates.

Starting off with, of course, Danielle Dubois–you know, because she's awesome–Lt. Parker asks her tell him all about Min Lee. Lounging leggily on a chair, Danielle tilts her head slightly and noodles with the question for a few seconds. Instead telling Lt. Parker all about Min Lee, she goes on this long tangent about taking a shower.

Actually, now that I think about it, I don't think the tangent was about Danielle taking shower at all. No, what we're witnessing is a blatant attempt to kill time on behalf of the producers of this film. And, I must say, I have no trouble with this whatsoever. Seriously, I could watch Danielle Dubois take a shower, towel off (yes, slowly pat dry your supple flesh, you sleazy harlot, you), put on makeup, select a pair of panties to wear (she goes with a red pair), select a pair of blue shorts, and pick out a green sleeveless top for hours on end.

While the scene where Danielle Dubois does all these things is no longer than five minutes, it does eat up a lot of time. In fact, I think the movie is already half over.

Attending a pot party, Danielle Dubois lounges topless, smokes from a hookah, and... that's pretty much it. I'm not sure if every scene is going to be like this, but every one so far has been the epitome of pointless.

Take the next scene, for example, after leaving the pot party, Danielle Dubois goes home, gets undressed, and crawls into bed.

The character of Carmen Espinoza has been itching to tell her side of the story to Lt. Parker, but he tells her to wait her turn every time she tries to interrupt him. When he finally does let her speak, he calls her "Miss Chili Pepper." Racist much, Lt. Parker?

My favourite scene in terms of pointlessness is the pool party sequence. Nothing really happens, but the atmosphere is so 1960s, that one might think the whole thing was an elaborate parody of the 1960s.

Featuring great hairstyles, amateur astronomy, hot chicks dancing in bikinis, pool side chess matches, meat being grilled by men with hairy chests, leggy babes doing their nails and pipe smoking, this scene is a real scene, man.

Seemingly going from one pot party to the next, we're quickly whisked to another pot party, this time a modest shindig being held in a garden.

"Is this weed head bothering you?" And with that line, we're introduced to Sandy (Frankie O'Brien), Min Lee's tough-looking lesbian roommate, who rescues her from this so-called "weed head" on several occasions.

At first I was like, "weed head"? That's a bit harsh, don't you think, Sandy? Then we get a good look at this so-called weed head. And, yep, Sandy's right, this guy is definitely a weed head.

At any rate, just when I was ready to declare The Brick Dollhouse to be Janice Kelly's picture, along comes Helena Clayton as Linda Sherman, a gorgeous redhead who speaks with what sounds like a fake English accent.

You see, unlike Janice Kelly, Helena Clayton doesn't look at the camera, and she clearly knows what camp is. Now, I don't know if this was done on purpose or not, but while stripping near a koi pond, Helena throws one of her shoes in the water. Not only was her errant shoe toss campy, it was the funniest, most entertaining thing to happen in the entire movie. And from that moment on, it put me squarely on Team Linda Sherman.

"There's nothing more relaxing than a massage." You said it, Sandy. Now take that unruly-looking massaging device (which I'm sure is available at Obscura Antiques and Oddities for a paltry 1,600 Cdn.) and drag it all over Linda Sherman's pussy.

Who killed Min Lee? Hmm, should I spoil the ending? Nah. If you've got an hour to kill and are not averse to films that boast bright colours and other stuff, you could probably do a lot better than The Brick Dollhouse. On a positive note, I will be seeking out more films that star Helena Clayton, you can count on that. The way she just showed up like that and blew Janice Kelly off the screen was an impressive sight to behold.

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