Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pat Barrington Week: The Girl with the Hungry Eyes (1967)

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch wrote in his best known work, Venus in Furs, that in any relationship there must be a hammer and an anvil (attributed to Goethe). Rostler's The Girl with the Hungry Eyes is a similar story. It is the tale of two women, Tigercat as hammer (Cathy Crowfoot, Mondo Keyhole) and Kitty as anvil (Adele Rein, Common-Law Cabin).

Tigercat is a on the butch side, and finds Kitty after she has been abused by various men. In the beginning, Kitty begins making out with a male hitchhiker, whom Tigercat kills out of jealousy. Kitty is not so convinced that she belongs with Tigercat. She says it was fun at first, but is obviously inclined toward men. Eventually Kitty returns to her boyfriend Brian.

This movie is quite the pre-hardcore porn movie. It is very Cinemax friendly. Kitty has a lengthy shower fantasy scene, first with her showering, then with her remembering her time with Brian and the staples of 1960s sex, stomach rubbing and belly kissing. Pat Barrington is featured as one of the lesbian friends at Kitty's birthday party.

The most difficult part of this film is the message. The moral of the story is that sex is good, but only hetero-sexual sex. Obviously they had to make something morally objectionable to make such a morally objectionable film... but it is hard to tell if Rostler believes this or not. A surprising number of people in the skin trade are quite conservative. Russ Meyer certainly had his hang-ups, did Rostler as well? Both Tigercat and Brian are guilty of taking advantage of the weak-willed Kitty. Tigercat is a sexual predator, whom it is hinted, looks for women like Kitty to lure into her lifestyle, but Brian is no better. When Kitty returns to him and describes how terrible it was to be with Tigercat it takes him no time to get her clothes off. Brian also has no qualms with beating up Tigercat, whom he does not consider a woman.

There is likely a great deal that could be said about this film, if one dug into the subtext and Rostler's life and inclinations. The cinematography is great at times, and awful at others. One element that could defend an anti-lesbian motive of the film is Kitty's fantasy with Brian. It takes part in a park, and has the best shots of the film, despite the low-budget Vaseline lens for the dream effect. There are shots of the happy couple interspersed with bucolic landscapes, rivers and sunshine. They finally make love in a pagoda of some sort, then in a swimming pool. It cries out "this is wholesome!" There is no sex scene with Tigercat, and in fact the two never appear nude together. The one scene where they are in bed, contextually just after sex, they merely lounge together. The interior shots indicating that their love must be hidden, and the lack of nature indicating it is considered less natural.

I am on the fence with this film. I would edit it down to thirty minutes, as much of the time is filled with Kitty's fantasy, or Tigercat driving around Hollywood looking for Kitty. It gets to be quite tedious. If I knew Rostler's intentions it might be more interesting. This one is for serious exploitation fans, or for those who want the far superior The Agony of Love with which it shares a disc.

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