Written by: Carroll Jenkins on April 10th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1972
Director: Paul Bartel
Writers: Philip Kearney, Les Rendelstein
Cast: Lucille Brown, Ayn Ruymen, John Ventantonio
DVD released: October 4th, 2005
Approximate running time: 86 minutes
DVD Release: Warner Brothers
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.97
Synopsis: A wayward teen girl shares a flat with her girlfriend in LA. Things sour when Cheryl is caught spying on her roommate in action so she shows up unannounced on her aunt’s doorstep. Make that lobby, as Aunt Martha owns the King Edward Hotel downtown, and is hesitant at first to welcome her since she has the last decent hotel in the area and she must be selective in her clientele. Actually, it’s more than a little seedy and some of the occupants are extraordinarily strange.
Paul Bartel is best remembered as a character actor (Piranha, Rock ‘N’ Roll High School), but was also (perhaps especially) a talented director. He did direct an action film for Roger Corman, but his specialty and obviously his delight was perverse comedy. This is especially evident with Death Race 2000 and Eating Raoul. Private Parts is a giallo just as Death Race 2000 is road race film. Which means that it basically follows the format but goes way overboard with humor, sex, violence, perversity, and other outlandish embellishments.
Here the situations and characters are complex, the plot takes quirky twists, and the subversive details are best left for the viewer to discover. The black humor here is so dark it’s not funny [pun intended], and the old hotel has great ambience.
The lead is played by Ayn Ruymen, best known as the ‘bad’ babysitter in the TV movie Go Ask Alice. She is fine in this part, but unfortunately followed this film lead with TV guest appearances for the rest of the decade. Stanley Livingston from My Three Sons (he played a nice wholesome boy-next-door) here plays the nice wholesome boy-next-door who takes Cheryl out on a bad date. Seems she prefers the wild side. The other supporting players present their characters well. Especially Aunt Martha. Look for Paul Bartel in a cameo as a wino taking relief in the park at night. “No privacy!”
The DVD is widescreen anamorphic progressive presentation that is very nice with minimal grain. Occasional repaired damage is visible, so it has obviously undergone moderate restoration.
The anamorphic widescreen trailer (!) was in much worse shape, but has also had seen restoration. It’s actually a very exciting and captivating trailer but is a little misleading and, as often the case, contains MAJOR spoilers.
This is an American giallo with perverse black humor and a rogues gallery of demented characters. It was an obscure theatrical release and very scarce as a VHS. My advice is don’t let it get away again.