Monday, March 11, 2024

Easy Alice (1976)

You'd be forgiven for assuming, as I did, that Linda Wong's character was named Alice. Despite the poster heavily implying that's the case (Easy Alice starring "Hustler" cover girl Linda Wong) and the opening credits outright saying so (Linda Wong as "Easy Alice"), the only time she's addressed by name - twice by her boyfriend Joey (Joey Silvera) and once by friend Bob (Turk Lyon) - she's called "Carol."

The name "Easy Alice" is used once and may refer to Carol, but it's not explicitly evident. More on that in a bit.

First, a brief overview of the plot (such as it is) of the film.

Joey is an easygoing, happy-go-lucky guy who makes his living as a adult film actor. He refers to himself multiple times as a "model," but when asked to elaborate, says he's a "porno model." He may shoot stills, I guess, but the insight into his profession the viewer is offered is in regard to performing on film. His career doesn't sit well with his girlfriend, Carol, but despite assuring her that he's leaving the industry behind, he isn't making any strides to bring those promises to fruition.

Joey gets called in to save a film after the male lead, Paul (Paul Scharf) gets too rough with his female costar, Pamela (Vicky Lindsay), and is ejected from the set. After the shoot, Joey is coerced by Paul into hanging out, first at Paul's apartment where the two engage in some clumsily improvised locker room talk and do cocaine, then at a bar where they're given the bums' rush for being drunken louts, then at a laundromat where they sexually harass a young woman (Candida Royalle). Paul (of course) takes things too far and, rather than intervene, Joey simply tells Paul to knock it off or he'll get in trouble and then leaves. And then Paul (of course, again) rapes the young woman. And Joey goes off and gets a donut and some coffee.

When Paul is pestering Joey into getting into his convertible at the start of their afternoon-to-evening escapade, he asks, "Hey, what's the matter? Ain't 'Easy Alice' gonna pick you up tonight?" which either refers directly to Carol or is Paul's term for a woman a man has some sort of romantic/sexual relationship to. The latter wouldn't surprise me considering Paul's obvious disdain for women, but my headcanon is going with the former, giving Carol a backstory as an adult performer that went by "Easy Alice" in films. I believe the reason she's so keen on Joey leaving the industry is that she left the industry herself and wants a relationship where both partners are working "straight" jobs. Like a married man telling his mistress that he's planning to leave his wife with no actual intention to, so, too, does Joey sell Carol a bill of goods about his leaving porno behind. But I digress.

While the men are out carousing, Bob calls Carol, inviting her over to his and Annette's (Annette Haven) place since they hadn't seen her in some time. Carol's wishy washy on the idea, but ultimately decides waiting around the apartment for Joey to come home from wherever the hell he is isn't worth it, so she might as well go out.

In some more awkwardly improvised dialog, Bob mentions that they haven't seen Carol in six months about a hundred times and then suggests they smoke some weed to loosen up.

He tries to get a menage a trois going, but when Carol doesn't play along, he takes it pretty well and opts to retire to the bedroom. Annette tells Carol that since men aren't women, they can't really know what a woman desires, and the two get down to some sapphic delights. An orgasm courtesy of Annette's oral skills was, apparently, all it took for Carol to be open to a three-way after all, and she agreed immediately to Annette's suggestion of taking things to the bedroom.

Bob got to play in the end, so like Heinz says, good things come to those who wait.

From the donut shop, Joey used the payphone to presumably check in with Carol, but was left hanging (or ringing, I guess) since no one was home. Over donuts, Joey gets picked up by Leslie (Lesllie Bovee; I'm making the editorial decision to spell the character's name in the more common fashion rather than the most-credited spelling of Bovee's screenname - sue me!).

Back at her house, the two start making out when her husband, John (John Leslie), "unexpectedly" comes home. John assures Joey that they're "very liberal people. Joey is convinced to join Leslie upstairs in the bedroom and after allowing the couple to get things underway, John ventures up the stairs to watch the show and get off.

As Joey leaves the couple's house, day has broken and he makes his trek back to his and Carol's apartment in a pretty melancholy scene: long shots of Joey walking, head down, with only the sounds of the early morning city.

Back home, Joey takes a seat in the kitchen and is soon joined by Carol. The two have a weary conversation where neither is truthful about their previous night: Carol says she went to Bob and Annette's, but says they just hung out; Joey claims to have gotten smashed with Paul and passed out on his floor. It's obvious that early-morning conversations like this aren't out of the ordinary for these two.

Regardless of the issues in their relationship, the two return to what is functional and start having sex on the kitchen table. The camera pans away from the outside of the kitchen window, up to the rooftop, and over the neighborhood from a distance as the closing music fades up and then the screen cuts to black.

As is often the case, I appreciated "Easy Alice" more while considering it after the fact and revisiting parts while writing up the recap. It can be difficult to get past the acting, cinematography, structure, and pacing of adult films to consider themes, symbolism, allusions, etc. and whether those elements are intentional or coincidental.

Ultimately, despite Joey appearing on screen over twice as much as Carol, not counting the scenes they have together, the movie really is about her. Or at least their relationship. The film is begins and ends with them fucking. At the start, their tryst is briefly interrupted by the phone call luring Joey to the porn set, and we learn Carol wishes Joey would quit the industry. At the end, they start after Joey admits he has no idea when he'll leave porn and Carol seemingly resigns herself to kicking the conversational can down the road.

You can't help but feel for Carol. Joey has undeniable charm, but he's also plainly a self-centered man-child. He doesn't take Carol's feelings about his job to heart at all. He doesn't have the scruples to actually stop Paul from raping the woman in the laundromat but probably still considers himself a good guy for telling Paul to cool it and not participating in the assault. There is a hint at growth in the way he looks at himself in the mirror when he gets back to the apartment the morning after his night out, which definitely reads less like, "boy am I tired" than "what am I doing and how long can I keep this up?"

But after a bit of a somber and serious exchange with Carol, he's back to his light-hearted ways when he tells Carol that the only thing on his agenda for the day is trying to get laid. In fairness, Carol matches the lighter tone when she laughs at the fact that at least he's willing to try to get laid with her.

I'm truly fascinated to see Robert Rimmer's reasoning behind deeming "Easy Alice" a Collector's Choice:

[T]he story of one day in the life of Joey Silvera has a slice-of-life reality that captures one's interest.

Who Easy Alice is is a mystery that I never solved.
Pal Joey  would be a better title for this one.

Fair enough. Rimmer's right that everything playing out within 24 hours is to the film's benefit. I still contend that, while Joey's escapades are the focus, Joey and Carol's relationship is the central point of the movie and that Carol is (or was) Easy Alice. It's been awhile since I've had to consider which CC tier to assign to a Golden Era flick, so I took a quick spin through my other designations to compare/contrast. All things considered, I'll rate Easy Alice a CC100.


° I'm going to take the IMDB and IAFD attributions at face value and assume Joey Silvera did, in fact, direct the film. I wonder how much of "Easy Alice" is semi-autobiographical?

° Many of the characters share the (screen) names of their actors excepting Pamela (Vicky) and Carol (Linda). Bob (Turk) gets a pass since he's credited in "Easy Alice" as "Bob Migliette" and has multiple AKAs as Bob/Robert.

° Speaking of which, only Linda Wong is credited with the name she's most commonly associated with. Some are close (Joey Silvera v. Joseph Savera, for instance), others less so (Annette Haven v. Annette Funnette). Rimmer takes this as proof that the film was made before 1976 (" given his or her ususal screen name"), but that's a wild assertion considering how loose crediting in porn is generally, but particularly before, say, the mid '80s.

° Annette Haven is one of adult cinema's great beauties, but in Easy Alice she is shockingly skinny and straight up looks like a vampire.

° I guess I have to give the film credit in that the woman being sexually assaulted didn't start getting into it halfway through, which was a not-uncommon occurrence in adult films (and may still be, since I very rarely see any contemporary porn). It would have been nice for Paul to get some just desserts, though. Like maybe getting hit by a firetruck while leaving the laundromat.

° Easily the most fun moment in the movie is after Joey's climax in the first scene. Joey pulls out while fucking Carol from behind and launches multiple shots past her head and shoulders. Wong and Silvera break character and erupt in genuine laughter.


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