Carlos Tobalina lampoons government corruption and makes his feelings known about Nixon and vice cops in the epic (in length only) MARILYN AND THE SENATOR, out on DVD from Vinegar Syndrome.
Female CIA special agent Marilyn Susan Right (Nina Fause, JUNGLE BLUE) decides that she wants to have a baby, and she determines that the right man for the job is Senator Wolf (William Margold, FANTASM COMES AGAIN) through intelligence gleaned from his favorite prostitute Nancy (Sharon Thorpe, BABY ROSEMARY). Although Susan wants to pay him $10,000 for his services and sign a contract to relieve him of any obligations, Wolf wants to leave him his family's millions in the event of his death. They arrange to meet at the Watergate Hotel – apparently a hotbed of corruption including bed-hopping arrangements since the Nixon scandal – to fulfill the contract but Wolf is unable to rise to the occasion, and is unable to do so until Marilyn leaves (at which point he calls Nancy to get him off). Unbeknownst to Wolf, his secretary Queep (Bill Kaye, THE CORPSE GRINDERS) has rigged his usual hotel room with video cameras because he likes to watch his boss' dalliances.
When Wolf's wife Mildred (Heather Leigh, BLACK SHAMPOO) discovers his infidelity via Queep's video cameras, she – unaware of their arrangement – realizes that she has not been satisfying him in the bedroom ("those damn headaches") and bones up on more adventurous sexual positions. Mildred wears Wolf out, and is at first satisfied when she sees – watching with Queep on his surveillance cameras – that Wolf can't get it up for Marilyn again until she calls Nancy over to get him aroused with a blow job (although a skilled agent who uses sex to extract information from important parties, Marilyn has apparently never been trained in oral sex, nor has anyone seemingly asked for it from her). Nancy unfortunately gets too enthusiastic and Wolf rolls over and goes to sleep. Marilyn sets up another appointment during her next cycle, but Mildred has brought S&M and swingers into the equation in a misguided effort to keep her husband satisfied at home.
Running two hours and eight minutes, MARILYN AND THE SENATOR is an interminable viewing experience that too often sacrifices political satire for sometimes literal toilet humor (Tobalina also sometimes undercranks the camera in an attempt to make things "zany"). Margold is serviceable as an actor, but Fause – while stunning to behold – is a terrible actress who has been given a lot of dialogue. It doesn't help that the sex scenes, while explicit, are blandly shot and rather ugly in general thanks in part to a lot of skin tones that look more pasty than creamy (on the commentary track, Margold points out some hardcore shots in which Tobalina and his "monkey balls" doubled). Purported to be shot in Washington D.C. under the very nose of the FBI and CIA, the film's location footage (not second unit or stock footage) is attractive but gets tiresome at a certain point since no viewer will ever believe that the interiors were shot in D.C. (or if they were, they were nowhere near the locations they purport to be). The surprise ending seems rather WTF not because it's illogical but because it's only slightly less slapdash than he plot it supports. Liz Renay (DEEP ROOTS) makes a special appearance as a madame (what else) of an exclusive brothel who provides frustrated Marilyn with male prostitute Gino Valentino – the descendent of a famous pimp – but she insists he wear a condom (surely a first in a seventies porn film and rare enough in porn these days) since she doesn't want to get pregnant. Seventies porn starlet Serena (DRACULA SUCKS) and A SCREAM IN THE STREET's transvestite killer Con Covert appear as swingers.
Vinegar Syndrome's dual-layer, progressive, anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) transfer bears the reissue title SWINGING SENATORS, and the HD scan from the original 35mm camera negatives is crisp and colorful with little damage. The Dolby Digital 1.0 mono track is clean, but the dialogue has sort of a disembodied quality (not unlike the dubbed and sync sound parts of Tobalina's JUNGLE BLUE). I'm not sure if the film played theatrically at its full length, and I can't imagine a porn company releasing the film on tape without chopping it down for tape length concerns (or in favor of a barrage of trailers and phone sex ads).
Besides a typically overlong trailer (6:07) – which features the MARILYN AND THE SENATOR title, looks grainier than the feature, and suggests that the two hour plus film is going to be non stop sex – the disc also includes a full-length audio commentary by actor William Margold, who is of course not only in the film itself but has become a historian of this era of adult film since. The track is moderated by Joel Rudin and guest-moderated by Massacre Video's Louis Justin, someone from Distribpix Inc., and journalist Matthew Worley. He states that the film was made in 1974 as MARILYN AND THE SENATOR and re-released as SWINGING SENATORS in 1976 (he has press books for both and notes that MARILYN AND THE SENATOR's poster was in Paul Schrader's HARDCORE), and that he banged out the script from Tobalina's concept. He discusses Tobalina's loathing of the government's puritanical ways as well as sub-par directing – Margold directed his own scenes – and his grandiose personality (he even named his production company Hollywood International Film Corporation of America).
He also notes Fause's (nicknamed "The Polar Bear" because of her furs) lack of acting talent – Margold had to hold cue cards that he wrote for her in reverse angles which is why there are so few two shots with them ("I wanted to strangle her!") – and Kaye being bullied into testifying by vice cops. Margold – the adopted son of Nathan Margold, Solicitor General of the Department of the Interior under President Harry S. Truman – is a fairly uproarious character with no internal filter and has the moderators cracking up in the background throughout as he dishes on his co-stars here and in other films, colorful friends, and just about anything that comes to mind. It's not the most focused commentary, but it is informative and far more entertaining that the film itself (you might even want to forget watching it with the original track to get the "plot" and just watch it this way). MARILYN AND THE SENATOR is another rare title unearthed by Vinegar Syndrome that might have been better off staying forgotten if not for the commentary track. (Eric Cotenas)
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