Friday, 27 September 2013

What's His Game?

‘The Stud’ may have seemed the perfect suburban adult entertainment in 1978, but today the signifiers of sophistication displayed in the film (furs, cocktails, poppers, loafers, top loading VCR's, Joan Collins) give it a laughably kitsch appeal that just about make up for its shortcomings as a work of art.

Based on a best selling ‘novel’ by Jackie Collins, the film tells the story of an ambitious London nightclub waiter turned greeter turned club manager Tony Blake, played by saturnine Swiss actor Oliver Tobias. Tony wants his own club but, in the meantime, is stuck with ‘Hobo’ (absolutely nothing like ‘Tramp’), a swinging cellar populated by wealthy and unbearable middle aged people making jokes about child molestation, Legs and Co. dancing and a cool black DJ in a great big cowboy hat playing Leo Sayer records.

On top of this (literally) he has to contend with his boss, bored socialite Fontaine Khaled (played by Jackie’s sister Joan) who sees Tony’s frequent and vigorous affections as part of their working relationship, and has no qualms about letting him know this on a regular basis. What unfolds over the course of the next hour and a half is a tacky maelstrom of recrimination, class consciousness, disco, angry parrots, homosexual assault, wrinkly nudity, uncomfortable looking lift sex, uncomfortable looking swing sex and an eight minute filler sequence where Tony simply drives through the countryside in his MG.

Glowering Tobias gives a fairly wooden performance, and Joan Collins, as ever, makes your skin crawl. The film itself is obviously low budget, dimly lit and poorly located, re-using shots over and over and slumping unceremoniously from one scene to another. The result is a slightly crushing experience, detailing as it does the depressing, sleazy lives of idiots in a dingy, miserable world where prostitution and borderline paedophilia are presented as the zenith of jet set glamour.

In its defence, the film is very funny on all sorts of (mainly ironic) levels, and has some memorable dialogue (once you’ve seen it, you won’t be able to check your reflection in the mirror without growling ‘you handsome bastard’). It is also quite clearly and cynically designed to make as much as money possible by cutting costs and appealing to the lowest common denominator at every turn, so we shouldn’t expect a cinematic masterpiece. That said, the climactic scene, where a crushed and humiliated Tony fights his way out of the club as the countdown to the New Year begins, finally bursting out into the (day for) night at the stroke of midnight and taking a massive breath of clean and uncorrupted air actually achieves a level of profundity missing elsewhere in the film and, as he saunters off into the night, you wonder where’s he’s going and what (and who) he’ll get up to next. Sadly, the sequel ‘The Bitch’ is all about Fontaine and is irredeemably awful. But we'll pick that scab tomorrow.

The music for the film was put together by the enigmatic Biddu, a talented writer, arranger and producer who had a few glory years in the UK charts with hit records like Carl Douglas’ ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ and Tina Charles’ ‘I Love To Love’ before returning to his native India. Appropriately for this low rent celluloid opus, the soundtrack LP was released by US infomercial giants Ronco, famous for severely editing tracks to fit more on an album and their immortal range of household must haves like the Veg-o-matic and the Buttoneer.

Anyway, here is a pretty comprehensive American trailer, which will give you a damn good idea of what you’re up against.

If you were wondering, by the way, Oliver Tobias' Wardrobe is by Herbie Frogg.

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