Code Red // 1974 // 81 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis (Retired) // March 11th, 2011
No job is too hard to handle.
Honey (Sarah Kennedy, Sammy Somebody) has just arrived in Los Angeles with a Master's degree in math and no job prospects. That all starts to change when she meets Jill (Lynne Guthrie, The Witch Who Came from the Sea), a painter with an extra room in her apartment. Along with another roommate, Denise (Laurie Rose), these girls have to struggle for whatever they get. Their jobs and the men in their lives make things even worse, but through their combined strength, they'll finally be able to make it.
Written and directed by Stephanie Rothman (Group Marriage), a member of Roger Corman's extended production family, The Working Girls is all promise and no delivery. Like Denise's job dancing on stage, this film is nothing but tease, all talk and no action, with almost nothing to show for it except for annoying characters and a senseless story. The plot takes on three threads, each dealing with one of the girls, which overlap slightly but have little connection to each other. The girls live together and that's about it. Honey gets with a reclusive millionaire; Jill gets with a two-bit fence that Honey found in the park and brought home; Denise gets with the son of a mafia boss. Each so-called romance is the same: each of them have to realize their own internal strengths before they can be free of these dysfunctional men. I appreciate the female-centric viewpoint of this and other of Rothman's films, but The Working Girls is too boring to care about.
In the end, there's not much appeal in The Working Girls except for the brief appearance of Cassandra Peterson, the famed Elvira, in an early role. As if the film wasn't enough of a bait-and-switch, it was re-released under the title Naked Elvira. While that fact is technically true, Peterson accounts for less than three hundred seconds of screen time, leaving horny hopefuls clamoring for more of something they will never find; that first glimpse of Elvira is the last you will ever get. If that's your thing, though, this is your movie. Me, I have better things to watch.
Code Red generally does very good work, but their job on The Working Girls is not so great. It's a screener, so the final product may grade out a little better, but here it's not too hot. The image is dirty and washed out, while colors are faded and black levels are murky. It's not as bad as the old VHS transfers, but definitely not where it should be. The sound fares a little better, if only because there are no outward problems with the mix. The dialog and music are fine, but there isn't much happening inside a single speaker. Aside from the customary trailer bank for other Code Red releases, our only extra feature is a twelve minute interview with Laurie Rose, aka Mesmera, who tells us all about her time in the film while wearing full belly-dancing regalia. She's loopy, but remembers the production pretty well and, while it's not an essential piece of Working Girls trivia, she does have a few interesting things to say.
Unless you're some kind of crazy-obsessive Elvira fan, there is no reason you ever need to watch this. I wish them well in their future endeavors, but the skills of these working girls are no longer required.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Code Red
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 81 Minutes
Release Year: 1974
MPAA Rating: Not Rated