ANGEL NUMBER 9 [a.k.a. Angel On Fire] (1974).
After her nudie-roughie career with then-hubbie Michael, Roberta Findlay became one of the few women in the early porno field, getting a chance to direct (and use her real name) on pics like TEENAGE MILKMAIDS and THE CLAMDIGGER'S DAUGHTER. These flicks probably turned out as well as they did because Findlay didn't actually like X-rated movies, so instead of wasting all her energy on the hardcore sex scenes, she also did her best to make a halfway decent film. In this case, she created a jism-house take on the hoary, gender-switching yarn GOODBYE CHARLIE (later incarnated as Blake Edwards' SWITCH and Chuck Vincent's CLEO AND LEO), and this shot-in-NYC 35mm raunch was undeniably Roberta's baby, since she directed, produced, photographed, scripted, and even editing it (the last one, under her old "Anna Riva" pseudonym)... Steven, a cruel casa-nova, enjoys using, abusing, and tossing women aside. And after dumping his latest girlfriend when she announces she's pregnant, he's hit by a mini-van (the driver couldn't see, because he was getting a blowjob). Steven ends up in a diaphanous vision of Heaven, and meets Jennifer Jordan as the scantily-clad Angel No.9 (an angel with tan lines? Why not!), who informs him that his punishment for screwing over so many women is to be returned to earth as a hot li'l blonde in order to "learn how a broken heart feels." "I'd rather be dead than be woman," he exclaims. Of course, Steven and our Angel also find the time for a quick schtupp. Steven's new incarnation, Stephanie, is played by Darby Lloyd Rains (who also starred in the Amero Brothers' EVERY INCH A LADY), and she's so anxious to test out her new body that she screws the mini-van guy who ran her down. She then masturbates in the shower, gets it on with one of Steven's old girlfriends, and soon discovers what a bastard he/she once was. That fact is driven home when Steph falls for the cheap tricks of lout photographer Jamie Gillis, who gets to rips into the newly-pregnant Stephanie with "raise the bastard child yourself, or get a fucking abortion." As Findlay put it in a '70s TAKE ONE interview, "I hire actors who will screw as opposed to screwers who I try to make act, which is impossible." It definitely shows. You can also tell this was made by a woman since the female characters are halfway-intelligent, loving, caring folks, while all of the men heartless shitheels. More importantly, when was the last time pregnancy or abortion was mentioned in a porno movie? Miles above the usual dreck and containing a smidgen of emotional honesty, this is a surprisingly subversive twist on the usual 42nd Street swill.
© 1997 by Steven Puchalski.