Ginger (1971)

gingerAcross three adventures in the early ’70s, twentysomething tramp Ginger McAllister was the 007 of 42nd Street. Written and directed by Don Schain, the titillating trilogy starred his then-wife, Cheri Caffaro (Savage Sisters), a living Barbie doll without the winning smile or sparkling personality. In the eponymous first flick, Ginger, our rich, pampered heroine is completely unqualified for her dangerous mission, but the authorities hire her anyway to the tune of $50,000 because she’s a statuesque blonde who’s more than happy to show off her tanlines.

Her assignment: At a posh New Jersey resort, she is to infiltrate a snatch-and-smack ring — with the infrequent foray into blackmail — run by seven bored adult children of the jet set. The mealy mouthed mastermind behind it is Rex Halsey (Duane Tucker, Fast Times at Ridgemont High), who might be wearing a dog collar at one point, but definitely looks like the bastard offspring of comedian Andy Kaufman and Rocky Horror Picture Show transvestite Dr. Frank N. Furter.

ginger1The undercover work requires Ginger to get naked a lot, which is not a problem for her or Caffaro; I suspect her disrobing to full-frontal nudity is the movie’s raison d’être. If it’s not to trick a bad guy into castration by piano wire, it’s to have her nipples violently nursed by Rex as foreplay to being raped. Which is more disturbing:
a) that Schain’s framing and Caffaro’s acting via false eyelashes suggest Ginger ultimately enjoys being sexually assaulted, or
b) that Schain later became the producer responsible for Disney’s High School Musical franchise? (The answer is “a,” just to be clear.)

Good side or bad, the characters speak haltingly, less for dramatic effect and more for struggling with words they’ve been tasked to repeat; thus, everyone. Talks. Like. This. Specializing in that delivery — as wooden as the paneling on the walls of a ’70s porn set — is our leading floozy. Caffaro closes the initial chapter that is Ginger by confessing, “Right now, I just feel sorta blah.” Sentiments shared, Ging. —Rod Lott

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