Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cinemasochism: THE FOX AFFAIR (1978)

I had never heard of THE FOX AFFAIR until a few years ago when I got a package full of old Box Office magazines.  The bible for film exhibitors, Box Office was seen by nearly every theater owner so getting your filmed noticed was top priority. And if your little production company had the cash, you could easily get your film on the cover.  This led to some great colorful spreads featuring low budget films like THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION (1975), Earl Owensby’s DARK SUNDAY (1976), X-rated INSIDE JENNIFER WELLES (1977) and nearly every Crown International release.  So seeing the New York lensed indie like THE FOX AFFAIR on the cover wasn’t unusual, but the eye-catching art was certainly intriguing.  Girl in white dress? Check.  Kung-fu fight? Check.  Helicopter? Check.  Guy with gun? Check. Exploding car? Check.  Parking meter?  Uh, check. And, believe it or not, the parking meter is the most central thing to the plot in that collage.

THE FOX AFFAIR centers on two stylin', profilin', limousine riding, helicopter flying, kiss-stealing, wheelin' n' dealin' son of a guns (whoo!) named Rogers (Robert Bosco) and Anders (Yuri Alexis). The film opens with them ripping off a “business” partner in Hong Kong (I kid you not: they use stock footage of HK and then film them outside a shop in Chinatown in NYC to try and create continuity).  Our boys fly back into New York and return to their main vocation, which seems to be procuring nubile young girls for rich old German horndog Wolfgang Van Boren (Steve Lincoln).  They test the goods by looking at the girls undress via a two-way mirror in a boutique the guys might own (it is never clear in the film).  In return for their services, Van Boren will give them a great stock tip and they will make bundles of money. Shit, these guys are living the life.

Trouble enters when a hitman from Hong Kong arrives to settle the score our dodgy duo thought they left 8,000 miles away.  They know he means business because he leaves behind a note that says, “Hong Kong boss man does not be take for fool.” HA!  If they can procure $2,000,000, they should be able to buy their way out of this mess. Making matters worse, Van Boren wants to get his freak on again. Enter Felicity Fox (Kathryn Dodd).  She is a homely parking meter maid who is giving our boys a ticket outside the boutique.  Rogers senses her potential and soon begins wining and dining her in the high life.  She proves to be a keeper because not only is she sexy, this police academy trained parking attendant knows kung fu and fights off the Hong Kong assassin (who screams, “Next time you are dead” when he runs out of the apartment in defeat).  Of course, they have groomed her for Van Boren and that totally bums Rogers out as he starts falling in love with her (after literally two scenes). In the meantime, our two guys hatch a plot to extort Van Boren by telling his younger (and freakier) wife about his affairs.  Not that is matters as she loves playing horsey with the gardener and chef.  Anyway, their price is $2,000,000! Why you clever bastards.  What they don’t count on is Felicity getting wind of their plan (via their two-way mirror) and spoiling it for everyone.

So how could a film feature all the cool stuff I described on the poster earlier and still suck?  Yes, everything on that poster is in the film so it isn’t false advertising. But it is a case of mind manipulation because viewers will no doubt cook up 500 billion better scenarios for the items feature.  Take the helicopter for example.  In the context of the poster, I’m expecting a helicopter chase.  Hell, if I may be so bold, I might even expect a thrown grenade from the helicopter is the reason that car is blowing up.  Nope, we just get one scene of a helicopter landing and these lead guys getting out. Damn it!  I’m always curious how these types of films get made. Producer-director Fereidun G. Jorjani has a name that screams out money laundering and he was one-and-done when it came to feature films.  He would later make the documentary THE STORY OF ISLAM, which I’m sure has more action than this.  He does get one thing right in that he features some nudity in this film (even if Rogers and Felicity’s big love scene is botched by darker-than-dark photography).  That is about the only highlight.  Actually, I take that back.  There is one weird bit in a spa where our guys hang out with a bunch of naked chicks and some bodybuilder.  The muscleman’s dialogue about his workouts while a girl feels his bicep is the film’s highlight

Guy: “Feel it. You have to push tight, you have to push tight. That’s it. You got it, push tight on that muscle.  It’s getting bigger all of the time.  You know how I got this muscle bigger?”
Girl: “Tell me.”
Guy: “Eating a lot of high protein foods.  I ate three chickens last night.”
Girl: “Very impressive.”

Yup, that is the highpoint of the film for me.  The rest is lots and lots of talking with occasional visits to a pumping disco (which looks like the inside of a steak house) every few scenes.  Damn, now I totally want '70s steak with disco music.

THE FOX AFFAIR was originally available on VHS from Saturn Video. I never picked it up, but was still able to see it on VHS. How so? Well because the Code Red DVD release of it (on a double feature with DELIVER US FROM EVIL) is obviously taken off a VHS tape. How do I know?  Because several times throughout the film the image jitters from side to side and I recognize that as a VHS problem.  Ah, good ol’ Code Red. Regardless, I’m actually thankful they put this out as I was able to pick it up cheap and finally confirm that sometimes the things left unknown are better that way.

Box Office review, May 1978: 

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