Saturday, August 15, 2009

Review: The Agony of Love

Synopsis: A neglected housewife searches for love, by pimping herself out as a high-priced call girl. She rents an apartment where she indulges in all of her sexual fantasies, but gets an unexpected surprise while on the job.

Review: Made in the time when the drive-ins ruled entertainment, during the golden age of sexploitation smut, "The Agony of Love" is a real standout among many of its competitors of the era, not the least of which is due to that luscious 60's silicone siren, Pat Barrington.

The basics of the plot are pretty much typical of what you can expect to get from a film of this kind and from this period. But while lacking in anything resembling originality, it still manages to give you the goods. Pat Barrington plays a neglected housewife, who hooks on the side, not for the money or the thrills, but to feel loved and desired. While the subject matter might have been consider almost taboo in the 60's, by today's standards it's not really all that shocking. Still, this is certainly no film meant for children.

Pat's obvious physical "talents" are one of the things that separates her from many women in this genre. More than ample, she has probably some of the the nicest body curves of the times. Unlike her physical form, though, her acting abilities are negligible, at best, since her emoting and delivery of dialogue is very flat. Yet, in this film, which is one of the few times she ever got a starring role, that seems to work to her (and the film's) benefit. Her monotoned vocal range, when she speaks, as well as the vacant look behind her eyes, is very befitting to the tormented "damaged goods" kind of character she is playing here. Whether more by accident than design, or the director simply playing to her weaknesses and making them a strength, this is most likely the best performance of her career, bar none.

This is William Rotsler's first time out as both writer and director of a film, as well as the first of several times he'd work with Pat Barrington over the course of the decade, but it is easily his best work. The use of some nice camera shots, puts this a step up from other like films of the era. And one scene, where Pat's character discusses a dream with a psychiatrist, is shot with an almost psychedelic flair. It was very much in keeping with the "trippy" 60's vibe, but gave this film something a little extra against its compatriots. Also, the twist ending is one you might not see coming. Rotsler does drag a bit on some of the sexual scenes (which showcase several kinds of fetishes), even though Pat's form is very nice to look at, which feels more like a directorial excess than anything else, but over all it is certainly one of the best shot sexploitation films I've ever seen (and I've watch quite a few).

This would be the last starring role of Pat's career (in which she only had two or three in total). And when the 60's came to a close, she disappeared from the world of film and never returned. Still, she certainly made her mark as one of the most voluptuous vixen of the decade and shown that even a drive-in "skin-flick" could actually be entertaining, for more than just the obvious reasons. It is actually difficult to rate films of this kind, as the standards of them are usually extremely low, but this one has a little something special to it, beyond what you might come to expect of this brand of film. It is on DVD and can be obtained from the Something Weird Video catalog. If you are a fan of this film genre, you'd do well to check it out.

Rating: 2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

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