LES CHIC (1972)
Director: Nick Phillips
AfterHours Retro

You all should know by now that I am not that big of a Nick Phillips fan. However, LES CHIC is a nice surprise. It’s not half-bad, and ranks with one of the few other decent Phillips films (PLEASURES OF A WOMAN) thanks to the inspired casting of real-life couple Rene Bond and Ric Lutze, who allow the audience to view their bedroom activity, the ultimate voyeur’s delight.

Chic is your typical 1970s swinger, prowling the streets of San Francisco looking for the next hot young thing to take home for a hot sweaty night. He meets Rene, a radiant beauty, in front of a theater showing THE SCAVENGERS (under its re-release title THE REVENGERS), and it’s not long before they’re getting it on, in a lengthy extended sex scene as a female narrator drones on and on in beat poetry about love and sex. They quickly become an item, strolling down the streets of San Francisco in a great typical Phillips travelogue sequence, spotlighting the Red Light district of the city. However, Chic becomes insatiable and drops in on two nymphos who roger him roundly in-between going down on each other.

In just over an hour, LES CHIC has little plot but is filled with perhaps the most erotic hardcore scenes Nick Phillips ever shot. It is a valuable hardcore classic because it is one of the best-preserved Rene Bond-Ric Lutze vehicles. This would make a great disc to put next to your FRANKIE AND JOHNNIE…WERE LOVERS DVD, and is a good companion piece, almost like a hardcore mirror to that film. Rene has never looked more fresh and lovely, and this is maybe her finest hardcore film; Phillips’ hand-held camera loves her, and the fact that her on-screen lover was also her off-screen paramour makes her scenes that much more erotic and stimulating. She gives her all because she loves Ric, and they also have fun as Ric paints her body before coitus. It’s interesting to speculate on why they broke up, but it becomes obvious when you track her film career to the late 1970s and Ric continued into the early 1980s. Rene was loved by all, and it’s a tragedy that she died so young before her renaissance on video began. Ric Lutze is actually kind of likable in this one, parading through the film in an array of garish, colorful outfits, like a white pimp cruising for his prey. It’s still outrageous to think that Rene stayed with him for so many years. Also in the cast, but mentioned nowhere on the packaging or on the disc, are Sandy Carey and Linda York. York flirted with hardcore in THE LOVE GARDEN, an excellent 1971 sexploitation film, but like her contemporary Uschi, still doesn’t go the full monty here; the closest she gets is jerking off Ric Lutze in the shower. You’ve gotta respect her for that. Carey is one of my personal favorites, a blonde nymph who jumped from hardcore to softcore quite often, but could always be counted on to deliver good acting performances and get into her sex scenes beautifully. A highly recommended purchase, LES CHIC is essential for fans of Rene Bond, sexploitation, and San Francisco sleaze.

Culled from Nick Phillips’ personal 8mm print, LES CHIC looks pretty darn gorgeous, with crisp color and little debris or print damage present. The sound is all dubbed narration, and is of course quite muffled thanks to the cheap production values of the time. Once again, the transfer is marred with a large RetroSeduction logo.

The extras on disc 1 include another 42nd Street Pete video interview, and it’s perhaps the most disturbing “historical” perspective I’ve ever seen. Not only doesn’t he identify Ric Lutze or Sandi Carey in the film, he seems completely clueless about Rene Bond, saying her breasts were real and not implants. According to Pete’s accompanying liner notes booklet, no one has any idea what happened to her (she died in 1996, a well-known fact). Two loops featuring the divine Ms. Bond raise the bar considerably; “My Sister’s Boobs” was shot around 1976 or 1977, judging by Rene’s hairdo, and features Rene and another actress giving blowjobs to and getting fucked by a trio of guys in their living room. “Sexy Striptease” is self-explanatory, and finds Rene disrobing in her bedroom for the camera. Both are pretty good, and perfect examples of the raunchy loops that frequented peepshow booths.

The second disc of this 2-disc set contains LES CHIC 2, an in-name only sequel directed by William Hellfire. Hellfire, who made such an impression with last year’s DEVIL’S BLOODY PLAYTHINGS, shot this one before PLAYTHINGS and is on Seduction Cinema autopilot, meaning lots of shot-on-video lesbo lovin’ and little else. The cast includes Darian Caine, Zoe Moonshine, and Isadora Duncan (currently the most talented actress of the Seduction Cinema troupe), but it’s a cold fish outing after watching the original. The accompanying audio commentary is kind of interesting, as it unites SC Pres Michael Raso, director Hellfire, and 42nd Street Pete to discuss the influences behind the company and how they all met. (Casey Scott)