Directors: Ralf Gregan, Ernst Hofbauer
Mars Pictures/BCI

Ernst Hofbauer and Wolf C. Hartwig are undoubtedly the most prolific and well know filmmakers of the faux documentary “Report” films that flooded out of Germany throughout the 1970s. The success and popularity of their SCHOOLGIRL REPORT series (Schulmädchen-Report), the first four of which are currently available from Impulse Pictures, created a boom of copycats, quick to jump on the investigative report bandwagon. Stretching the "Report" film structure thin, exploring any situation that might find a young lady in a compromising situation, films such as THE NURSE REPORT (Krankenschwestern-Report), HOUSEWIVES REPORT (Hausfrauen-Report) KEYHOLE REPORT (Schlüsselloch-Report), and WEDDING NIGHT REPORT (Hochzeitsnacht-Report) also known as THE HONEYMOON REPORT, are but a drop in the barrel of the pictures that would follow the trend, many of which were bought by American distributors, dubbed and retitled. Such is the case with BETWEEN THE COVERS and SWINGING WIVES, who like CAMPUS SWINGERS, SECRETS OF SWEET SIXTEEN and a variety of others, brought fresh faces and carnal situations that had more than just the horns honking at the drive-in.

In BETWEEN THE COVERS the voluptuous Nina (Heidi Kappler) decides to try her hand at a day job, answering a classified ad looking for young and energetic individuals to sell magazine subscriptions. After a memorable entrance, Nina joins the sales meeting of seasoned professionals and fresh newcomers already in progress. Despite the distraction of numerous strippers performing in the adjacent meeting hall, each of the veteran salesman are asked in a roundtable discussion to recount past achievements and to highlight the numerous struggles a fledgling salesmen might encounter. Their stories vary from chance encounters with lonely and neglected housewives to being seduced into a threesome by a girlfriend's mother and her au-pair, Alice (Carmen Van Der Poel, SCHOOL FOR SWINGERS aka Tanzstunden-Report). As each story becomes wilder and more explicit, one key element remains the same, the ability to turn any situation or position into a sale.

Liebe zwischen Tür und Angel (which roughly translates to "Dear between door and hinge"?) mixes a lighthearted tone with erotic situations that both tantalize and entertains. It’s impossible to argue that the situations in which each salesman finds themselves in are in any way conceivable, with each story topping the previous one in cheeky audacity, but therein lies the fun. It’s actually quite clever and well played as each amorous encounter steps up the fantasy to the point where you barely question the ridiculous situation Nina finds herself in while trying to land her first big sale. Used as a Ouija board for prospective clients, Nina lies naked on a large round table, motionless while the ceremony's participants stroke and prod her body with back scratchers. It sounds like a scene out of a bad (or very good) horror film, but it all somehow works, giving rise to both chuckles and libidos. I also found the segment in which a busty brunette spies on her next door neighbor as she tussles with an unsuspected yet highly motivated salesman, particularly “moving”. All of the ladies present are dreadfully beautiful, many of whom found regular work in similar “Report” films throughout the 1970s.

That being said, the transfer is atrocious. A title card before the main menu states that the best available elements where used in this release, which in this case seems to mean that they found an old VHS tape that had been cropped so as to appear widescreen, cutting of heads, credits and nudity from which to transfer. Sadly the same is true for SWINGING WIVES. Let's be honest, anybody going out of their way to either see or buy a “Report” film is looking for a little German T & A. So imagine if after forking over your hard earned money and settling down for 80-something minutes of softcore comedy, some of the "best parts" have been cropped off. It would leave one understandably despondent. I don’t even mind the countless scratches and obvious print damage, such flaws can often add a nostalgic grindhouse aesthetic, but it is aggravating to feel like someone should be yelling at the projectionist to switch the lens. While I don't know how closely the English dub track is to the actual dialog, I do know that the mono track provided sounds like it was recorded underwater. It was as if I was wearing earmuffs the whole time. I had to struggle to understand what was being said, but again this is “Report” film so the dialogue really isn’t all that important.

SWINGING WIVES or Der Neue heiße Sex-Report: Was Männer nicht für möglich halten (which translates to THE NEW HOT SEX REPORT: WHAT MEN DO NOT CONSIDER TO BE POSSIBLE) follows an intrepid reporter as he takes to the streets to examine men and women about their thoughts on female promiscuity, especially housewives. With husbands spending more and more time working to provide a comfortable lifestyle for themselves and their families, an epidemic of cheating spouses is on the rise. A series of vignettes explore the lives of sex starved women, many of whom once greeted their husbands nude and willing at the front door, now engage in extramarital activities as their companions have little energy for such activities after a long work day. Anyone’s a potential mate for women hungry for attention. Mail carriers, gynecologists who make house calls, even the beer delivery man (wait, they’ll deliver to your house?) are at risk of being tempted into adultery from horny housewives on the prowl.

Helmed by Ernst Hofbauer, SWINGING WIVES fits comfortable into his impressive catalog, at least in their sheer numbers, of Report films. In comparison to BETWEEN THE COVERS, the action is much more subdued but the film is certainly fun, especially given the ridiculous situations and silly dialog. While there are a few noticeable beauties present, in particular Astrid Frank (Au Pair Girls), I would suspect that most will find the quality of actresses superior in BETWEEN THE COVERS. It could just be me, but I’ve never been a big fan of the unibrow on a lady. SWINGING WIVES does however have the better soundtrack, with Gert Wilden contributing another groovy “Report” score.

Unfortunately SWINGING WIVES holds up about as good as BETWEEN THE COVERS, which is to say poorly. Both films suffer from a persistent onslaught of lines and debris, but such faults are forgivable given the nature and ago of the material. The forced anamorphic enhancement cuts off the top and bottom of the screen to the point where the opening credits don’t even list the director's name! The mono audio is of better quality than COVERS, with the film's narrator understandable and the Gert Wilden score highly enjoyable despite some minor hissing. I have to say I am really disappointed in that the film' themselves are quite enjoyable; BETWEEN THE COVERS being the standout, but the presentation is so lackluster that I would have preferred Mars Pictures holding back on its release in favor of more suitable source prints. There are no extras present, not even a Chapter Menu, but I do have to give them credit for a clever and simplistic box design which mimics an old double bill ad slick. (Jason McElreath)