Sunday, May 29, 2011

Far Out Films from the Seventies: Jack + Jill (1979)

An extremely sexy and witty take on Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969) from auteur Chuck Vincent, Jack + Jill (1979) is one of the savviest adult films of the seventies. Featuring an extraordinary cast including the awesome Samantha Fox (who won a Best Actress award for her fetching and funny portrayal of Jill), handsome Jack Wrangler, Eric Edwards, Merle Michaels, Vanessa Del Rio and Annie Sprinkle, Jack + Jill is a steamy satirical joyride that is as entertaining as it is smart.

Jack and Jill are a happily married couple who enjoy role-playing and who are always open to new experiences to spice up their already enjoyable sex-lives. The deeply in love pair find that ‘swinging’ is the next logical next and they begin to hook up with a variety of partners without ever losing focus on each other.

Guided by Vincent’s sure-handed direction, Billy Schaeffer’s amusing script and Larry Revene’s vivid color photography, Jack + Jill is a wonderful mixture of snappy dialogue, funny situations and hot sex. Breezy at just over seventy minutes, Vincent’s film manages to be both a satirical look at the swinging scene of the late seventies as well as a tribute to a couple very much in love with each other. Jack + Jill is also a wonderful tribute to New York with one particularly stunning extended shot of a sunrise being a particularly sweet valentine to the city.

Michigan native Vincent had already been working steadily through the better part of the seventies and by 1979 had well established himself as one of adult cinema’s great directors. He had hit a major winning streak in 1978 with the releases of the great Misbehavin, Bad Penny and That Lucky Stiff. Working sometimes under the pseudonym of Mark Ubell, Vincent was an extremely intelligent filmmaker who managed to make what could have been run of the mill sex films compelling and engaging. Jack + Jill is one of his greatest works and it would help mark his cinematic partnership with smokin' Samantha Fox as one of the most important of the period.

Born Stasia Therese Angela Micula in New York City in 1951, petite Samantha Fox came of age as a classical trained dancer and theater-based actress in her teenage years before she ended up hosting a popular local television show in the early seventies. Fox began appearing in adult features by the mid seventies but she didn’t really hit gold until Chuck Vincent cast her Bad Penny (1978). A charming and lovely woman who had serious acting chops, Fox was a perfect Lombard to Vincent’s Lubitsch and their work together is quite remarkable and would continue well into the eighties.

While Jack + Jill is ultimately a celebration of the Fox-Vincent team, Jack Wrangler makes a perfect Jack in the film and is both charismatic and funny. Edwards is of course always strong and Del Rio makes the most of her one (Shakespeare inspired) sequence. The best supporting players though are the delightful Annie Sprinkle and Rikki O’Neal (an often underused stunner who would only appear in a handful of films after Jack + Jill) who play a pair of beautiful prank callers whose place in the film doesn’t become apparent until a delightful twist at the end.

Jack + Jill was a big hit on the adult circuit when it hit theaters in 1979 and got a lot of justified acclaim. It is since become known as one of the great adult films of the era and it is available uncut through Distribpix’s great Video X Pix’s DVD label. While the disc doesn’t have any film specific extras, it is uncut and contains a fairly nice looking print of the film and is highly recommended.

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