Color, 1975, 127m.
Directed by Carlos Tobalina
Starring Nina Fause, William Margold, Heather Leigh, Sharon Thorpe, Bill Kaye, Liz Renay Eroff Lynn
Vinegar Syndrome (DVD) (US R0 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)
A film that could only have been shot in the immediate aftermath of Watergate, Marilyn and the Senator is a political rallying cry against hypocrisy cloaked in the guise of a porn film. On top of that, it runs well over two hours and was partially shot on real locations in Washington, D.C. Sound crazy? You bet, and while the end result is far from the cream of the adult filmmaking crop of the era, you've never seen anything else quite like it.
Dramatically challenged Nina Fause (Come Deadly) stars as Marilyn, a D.C. government agent on the hunt for a baby daddy with no strings attached. She decides her first choice is a high-ranking senator (Margold in one of his first starring roles), whom she knows has a taste for hookers and a few other skeletons in his closet (apart from being married). She crashes his office while his advisor, Queep (Kaye, a.k.a. legit actor William Kirschner from The Corpse Grinders), is reeling from the senator's odorous activities in the bathroom. With that poop comedy out of the way, Marilyn makes her financial offer to give the senator $10,000 for his magical DNA, but when they try to consummate the act later at the Watergate Hotel, he finds himself unable to follow through to completion. That leaves Marilyn high and dry, with potential scandals and personal crises threatening them both as the senator embarks on a sexual odyssey involving both a bevy of Washington hookers (including '70s favorite Sharon Thorpe) and the creme de la creme of high society. Naturally, there's a tragic and ironic double twist ending, too.
Far from your average smut auteur, Carlos Tobalina aspired to a become a sort of experimental sexual pioneer with films like Refinements in Love and Jungle Blue. A lot of his output is impossible to see now (and seriously, could someone please dig up The Last Tango in Acapulco already?), but based on what's out there before he started going by the numbers in the '80s, he was a fascinating character whose reach often exceeded his cinematic grasp. The use of real D.C. locations here is pretty startling (though the sex scenes were wisely shot elsewhere) and gives the film a very different backdrop than usual, though of course the threadbare interiors and amateur hour acting (Marhold excepted) keep this firmly in the cheapie category. The wildly inflated running time means you get an unusually high number of sex scenes, all but one of which involve Margold thrusting at a variety of wooden actresses. That isn't the most erotic spectacle in the world, but you've gotta give 'em credit for trying something different. On top of that, you also get burlesque performer and Desperate Living star Liz Renay in one of her several colorful smut movie cameos, too.
Sporting the onscreen title of Swinging Senators, the Vinegar Syndrome DVD features an HD transfer of the complete, epic-length director's cut of the film, up to their usually exceedingly high standards. The transfer is so clear you can make out every crease on the presidential cut-out portraits stuck on the senator's office wall, and the nonstop flesh tones look healthy and accurate considering the often overlit interiors. The original trailer is included, too, but the real reason to pick up this puppy is the astounding audio commentary featuring Margold and moderators including Vinegar Syndrome's Joe Rubin, Massacre Video's Louis Justin, Distribpix Inc. (a.k.a. Distribpix Man), and writer Matthew Worley. Margold really gets 95% of the air time here as he lets it rip with candid opinions about every single person involved with the film and pretty much every subject that crosses his mind, such as Toblina being a below par director (who would let a bunch of cameras roll and leave the room) and Fause having acting abilities below those of household pets and corpses. In one early jaw dropper he also discusses how turned on he gets watching Luana Anders get axed in Dementia 13, so that should give you some idea of what to expect. File this one next to Cannibal Ferox, Driller Killer, and The Car as one of the most outrageous audio commentaries ever recorded, folks. This one's a keeper.
Reviewed on April 7, 2014.