The Happy Hooker Trilogy

The Happy Hooker Trilogy
Xavier Hollander rose out of the sexual revolution of the’70s to become the world’s most famous madam. With her book and regular Penthouse column, she was the pioneer for today’s sex advice writers, dispensing wisdom on blowjobs and threesomes in shocking detail. A pity that none of this background information is conveyed on this set, which gathers three film adaptations of Hollander’s life. What may have been racy in those days looks kitschy today, and perhaps these films were kitschy back then as well. They are more tease than titillation and at other times, just silly. Accomplished British actress Lynn Redgrave never looks comfortable as the Dutch call girl in the original The Happy Hooker. This film sticks closest to Hollander’s actual life, as she rises from naïve immigrant to hooker before graduating to full-time madam. This is the most solid of the three films, in terms of story, and the least corny. Joey Heatherton is all camp in The Happy Hooker Goes To Washington, which trots out second bananas George Hamilton and Ray Walston, who witness the happy hooker testifying before Congress and working on a mission for the CIA. If that sounds hokey, well, it is. Surprisingly, Martine Beswicke wears the happy hooker role with the most confidence in the final instalment, The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood. This time Xavier hits Tinsel town where she goes up against sleazy Hollywood types like Adam West (the original Batman) and a wheelchair-bound Phil Silvers. Unfortunately, bad acting and a predictable script doom this film to the kitsch shelf (there’s that word again). The Happy Hooker films are not erotic, unlike the Emmanuelle series of the ’70s, which also feature a woman who discovers her sexuality in exotic locales around the world. To attract a mainstream audience, The Happy Hooker series goes for laughs, which often fall flat. What is badly needed here is a featurette to unveil the true Xavier Hollander, to tell her life story. It’s a fascinating one that these three films unfortunately turn into a comic strip. (MGM)