Judge Daryl Loomis accepts walk-ins.
Just tell him you're selling books.
Christmas at the brothel might sound a dream holiday for Uncle Rick, but it's also the alternate title of one of the strangest Euro-sleaze I've reviewed in some time, Holiday Hookers or, as this DVD would have us believe, Love by Appointment. It's not strange because of some kind of deviant content; this definitely is not Emanuelle in America here, it's strange because it seems, somehow, to want to be looked at as some kind of serious drama. It's not, not by a long shot. What it is, however, is a really boring movie that takes forever to get to the point.
Nira (Françoise Fabian, Belle de Jour) has spent her whole adult life making loads of money running a high-end brothel, hiring bored and lonely housewives to service her rich and powerful clients. It's not good enough for her, though; she has another dream, a dream to retire with her debonair lover to an island paradise. But, as she prepares to do just this, she must sever her relationships with her escorts, which turns her life to chaos.
Love by Appointment plainly never knew what it wanted to be. Director Armando Nannuzzi, despite having been director of photography on Maximum Overdrive, really didn't have much of an idea of how to make either a piece of erotica or a substantial drama. I know that's a shocking revelation, but in trying to do both at the same time, he made a meandering movie with snippets of sexuality and snippets of drama, but nothing that actually appears to be one complete movie.
At least, for fans of good actors slumming for no good reason, we have Ernest Borgnine (The Dirty Dozen) and Robert Alda (Imitation of Life), playing johns who have fallen in love with their respective married and uninterested prostitutes. Why are they in this movie? Paychecks. What do they add to the movie? Nothing. There's nothing to recommend about this movie and, while there's nothing that's abjectly awful about, there's also nothing about it that's remotely entertaining. Code Red has pulled a lot of obscurities out of the vault over the years, but this one may have been better left under wraps.
They do, however, deliver their usual good quality DVD release for Love by Appointment. We received a screener for review, but what I've seen should likely reflect the retail product. The 1.85:1 anamorphic image looks reasonably good for its age, with a minimum of dirt and damage to the print. There is a reasonable amount of detail in the frame and pretty good coloration, but it's nothing outstanding. I'm sure it looks as good here as it ever has on home video, but there's a limit to how good it can be. The mono sound is fine, but nothing very special. Dialog is clear enough, while any background noise or hiss is soft enough to never be distracting. The only extra is a short interview with producer Alfredo Leone.
With neither the sexy perversions of true Euro-sleaze nor the skill or talent for an actual cinematic experience, Love by Appointment really hasn't a place on anyone's shelf, be they a genre fans or a high-brow cineaste. Worse than anything, it's a total bore that doesn't get to its core story until nearly the third act. If you're able to get to that point in the movie without hatred for it, you're a better viewer than I.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Code Red
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