Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Chatterbox! (1977)



          Some movie premises are so outrageous that it’s not just remarkable they were made into films—it’s remarkable anyone had the nerve to share the original idea with other people. So it is with Chatterbox!, a lighthearted showbiz comedy about a woman whose talking vagina becomes an international celebrity. Yes, you read that right. Presented in the breezy style of an old “Hey, kids, let’s put on a show!” movie, Chatterbox! Is unquestionably juvenile, raunchy, and vulgar. Yet it’s also endearingly goofy, periodically amusing, and surprisingly sweet, largely because of leading lady Candice Rialson’s sincere performance. To be clear, most sensible viewers will steer clear of the movie simply because of the storyline, and they’ll be right to do so—every frame of Chatterbox! is inherently filthy, even though there’s nothing remotely pornographic about the presentation. Yet for those willing to accept the movie as a bizarre artifact of an adventurous time, Chatterbox! is far more palatable than most American low-budget sex comedies from the ’70s.
          Directed by prolific B-movie helmer Tom DeSimone, who also came up with the story, Chatterbox! introduces viewers to Penelope (Rialson), a nice hair-salon assistant with an average boyfriend—until the night her vagina verbally criticizes the boyfriend’s sexual performance. Convinced she’s going crazy, Penelope visits Dr. Pearl (Larry Gelman), who confirms that she indeed has a talking sex organ. Dr. Pearl presents Penelope and “Virginia the Talking Vagina” to a medical conference, then becomes Penelope’s manager for a lucrative tour of live appearances and TV specials, culminating in a movie deal. All of these appearances showcase Virginia’s lovely singing voice; sometimes Virginia performs light ditties, and sometimes she croons numbers filled with crass innuendoes. (Penelope wears discreet patches over her privates during performances.) By way of explanation, Dr. Pearl suggests that Virginia is a manifestation of Penelope’s repressed sex drive.
          The jokes in Chatterbox! are broad and silly, as exemplified by newspaper headlines about Virginia’s ascent: Variety screams “Virginia Boffo Box” and the Boston Globe reports that “Police Close Virginia’s Opening.” It’s worth noting that the biggest name in the cast is flamboyant comedian Rip Taylor, who plays a hairdresser. Chatterbox! should be unwatchable, and it received brutal reviews during its original release. However, Rialson is as likable as she is lovely, and DeSimone’s chipper storytelling helps ensure that Chatterbox! is 73 minutes of sexualized silliness.

Chatterbox!: FUNKY

2 comments:

Steven Thompson said...

Hard to believe but there was actually a mini-trend of talking vagina movies around that same time with the French PUSSY TALK and the American ANGEL ABOVE, DEVIL BELOW, both of which were hardcore. Not sure which of the three films was first.

William Blake Hall said...

Should someone sue Eve Ensler?